QuarkXPress 2018 is coming, and it's bringing emojis

Quark wants to tempt you back from InDesign with support for colour fonts - including emojis - and creating Android apps.

When I first starting doing page layouts - back in the days when the web was just Myspace and Napster - QuarkXPress was the only tool of choice. But its reign was ended by then-plucky-upstart InDesign and 'Quark' (as we called it) now seems to be used mainly by a core group of long-term fans who favour how it works - or at least not having to pay a subscription to use it.

New versions of QuarkXPress appear yearly, and the next version that's due in May wants to win you back over by doing one of main things that got us to move over to InDesign in the first place - innovating ahead of the competition.

InDesign CC 2018 was released at the end of 2017 and added a few minor updates to endnotes, Styles, borders, font finding and Libraries. QuarkXPress 2018 kicks off its new feature list off with support for colour fonts - which Photoshop and Illustrator support but, oddly, not InDesign. 

Colour fonts are - as their suggests - typefaces that include multi-coloured and textured elements, but which kern like traditional fonts. This can be as simple having multi-coloured stokes like the Rainbow-flag inspired Gilbert to coloured pictorial icons like emoji - and it's possible for them to include incredible levels of detail and pattern.

QuarkXPress supports Colour Fonts in SVG, SBIX and COLR formats, and they can be used in print, PDF, and digital outputs. However, there aren't that many Colour Fonts available - most of the one's we've seen have been in Adobe's TypeKit library, so only Creative Cloud subscribers can get access to them. You can access Apple's system-level emoji though.

Other typographic improvements include quicker access to OpenType options (below), five hyphenation strictness settings, and splitting the font selection drop-downs into two - one for typeface and one for weight. This makes selection quicker (and has been borrowed from InDesign and lots of other apps).

If you're currently using InDesign, you can import your layouts as IDML files, with conversion straight into QuarkXPress files. There's the Callas PDF Print Engine for higher-quality PDFs, with support for accessibility-compliant PDFs.

Away from print design, you can now create standalone Android apps using QuarkXPress 2018 - iOS app creation was added in QXP 2017. 'Single issue' apps are free to create, as long as you have a Google Play Store developer account (which costs from $25).

You can export HTML5 Publications and ePubs with more native HTML5 elements, including Outline and Shadow type styles, Tables as HTML tables, anchored text boxes, grouped boxes and Tables, non-solid rules and more. Interactivity can be added to multiple elements at once by applying an interaction to a group.

Oddly, there's still some disparity between the Mac and Windows versions. The Windows version now has the same Measurement Palette for accessing relevant properties for an object (at the bottom of the above screenshot) that was added to the Mac version in the previous version), but the Mac version can now show this vertically, which the Windows version cannot.

QuarkXPress 2018 will ship on May 16 and costs £709, or £159 as an upgrade from the 2017 release. If you upgrade in March you get 15% off the upgrade price, 10% in April and 5% in May.

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