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Quark Publishing System: A Review

Part 3 of 3 parts


You use QuarkXPress to create layouts that contain articles created by QuarkCopyDesk users. The system maintains a link between the layouts and the articles. -- QPS user manuals

QXP is integrated into QPS by the QuarkDispatch XTension for QuarkXPress. Like QuarkCopyDesk, QXP gets a QuarkDispatch menu for checking layouts in and out. QXP users also work with articles and pictures through this menu. The first example is the QuarkDispatch menu when a layout is open but no articles are selected.

Figure 22 - QuarkXPress QuarkDispatch Menu, Example 1

The first four menu items are the same as in QCD QuarkDispatch menu, with the exception that they refer to layouts instead of articles. The next two are unique to QXP. Because pictures and articles might be edited on another computer, updating either of them will force QXP to get updated articles or pictures through the QuarkDispatch Server. The remainder of the options are similar to their QCD equivalents.

When you click on an article in a layout, you see the cursor turn into a locked cursor, as in Figure 23. Articles cannot be edited within QXP unless they are checked out. When an article is selected, the QuarkDispatch menu changes so it can be used to check out the article, as in Figure 24. The user must check in all open articles in a layout before checking in a layout. As with QCD, if an article is checked out by someone else, the article cannot be edited by the QXP user. However, he or she can still edit the layout and move and/or resize the article.

Figure 23 - Locked Article in QuarkXPress.

Figure 24 - QuarkXPress QuarkDispatch Menu, Example 2

If an article is created in QXP, it is optional to check it in separately from the layout and create a QCD file. Text elements such as page headers and page numbering are not edited in QuarkCopyDesk. Picture captions, on the other hand, are often created in QXP but later edited by editors in QCD. After creating an article in QXP, the user has the option of assigning the article to another user. Once that is done, it can be edited in QCD.

An important feature of article check in from QXP is inclusion of pictures in the QCD file. During article check in -- as shown in Figure 25 -- the layout artist sets whether or not preview images are inserted in the QCD file. If so, the QCD user will see the graphics only in WYSIWYG mode, and the pictures will not print.

Figure 25 - Check In Article Dialog

Picture files are treated like articles. They can be check in separately into QPS, or they can be inserted into a layout in the traditional manner.

The only increase in complexity we have experienced over QuarkXPress running independently of QPS is the creation of style sheets. Normally in QXP, the user can change style sheets without any concern. In QPS, style sheets implementation becomes more complex. Because the style sheets must be available to QCD users, they must be imported into the QuarkDispatch Server.

QPS automates style sheet sharing. QXP global style sheets are stored in the QuarkXPress preferences file. In order for these style sheets to be part of QPS, the prefs file must be imported into QPS by the administrator. These style sheets are now available to all QCD users. But you still need to manually import these style sheets into QXP templates.


Incorporating Other Applications

QuarkConnect is a system extension from Quark that enables a number of third-party applications to be connected to a Quark Publishing System (QPS). The QuarkConnect software package includes a set of "compatibility modules" that enable you to link several illustation, word processing, and picture database applications to QPS. When the QuarkConnect extensions is running, you can use a QuarkConnect-compatible application to check in and check out files, to view and edit file headers, and to query the QuarkDispatch database for information about files in your system. -- QPS Manuals

Fortunately, non-Quark products can play with QPS. QuarkConnect is a system extension that provides a QuarkDispatch menu to select third party applications. So PhotoShop and Illustrator users get the same benefits of QPS as QuarkXPress users. Integrating other products with QPS makes it easier for publication managers to track all files and not just QXP and QCD files. The QuarkDispatch menu can be added to a variety of applications. This version of the QuarkDispatch menu is more versatile than it first appears.

Figure 26 - QuarckConnect's QuarkDispatch Menu

By selecting Check in Other File... any type of file can be checked into QPS. When our color separation house sends us a scanned image, we use TeachText to check the file into QPS. Checking out a file still requires that the check out program can use the file itself, but check in is not limited.

QuarkXPress can access graphic files checked into QPS. Using a graphic now becomes a matter of drag and drop, from the query palette to the picture box.

The good new is that QPS supports major publication applications such as PhotoShop, Freehand and Microsoft WORD. The bad news is that there are so many applications that a publisher might want to use. Plus Quark must write a QuarkConnect filter for every version of each supported application. When Photoshop goes from version 4.01 to 4.02, QPS users will need a new QuarkDispatch filter.

Applications supported include: Photoshop, Illustrator, Freehand, Cachet, Cumulus, Multi-Ad Creator, SimpleText & TeachText, and Word 5.1.

QPS 1.12 does not support any applications used outside of publication construction. Quark is promising that version 2 will support more applications including those used in the business end of publishing, such as spreadsheets.


Publication Management

The QuarkDispatch Planner application is used by managers to make assignments to users of QuarkDispatch-aware applications, as well as to track files and print reports. -- QPS Manuals

QuarkDispatch Planner (QDP) is used for assigning work and creating reports. Any file can be assigned to any QPS user from QDP. In addition, QDP can create new QCD article files. We do not use this feature because it does not work with The Washingtonian workflow and management.

Much of the information that can be gleaned from QDP can also be gotten from the query capability built into all of the QuarkDispatch menus. Because we do not use QDP for setting due dates and assignments, we rarely have a need for it.

Figure 27 - QuarkDispatch Planner Report Window

You can create workspace documents in QDP. A workspace is made up of one or more report windows. A workspace is used to view queries. Workspace contents can be printed and exported. An exported workspace is a tab-delimited text file that can be imported into a spreadsheet or database.

As a reporting tool, QDP does duplicate the Query windows found in QXP, QCD, and QuarkConnect. The main difference is the ability to save window configures, to print window contents and to export data. We rarely use QDP because we can gather the same information from querying within the other applications.



You use the FileManager to delete and archive QuarkDispatch files. -- QPS Manuals

QuarkDispatch FileManager is limited to file archiving, deletion, and header editing. It is a vital piece of QPS because it is the only way to delete files. At The Washingtonian any files someone wants to delete are routed to a user named "*Trash." Once a week the systems manager reviews these files and deletes them with FileManager.

Figure 28 - QuarkDispatch FileManager

FileManager provides the same file search capabilities of the other QPS applications. The columns are user definable.

When deleting files, the user has the option not to delete any files linked to a layout. This helps prevent accidents.

Archived files are not tracked by QPS. You can archive either the last version of each selected file or all versions. The archived files will take the names assigned to them in QPS. Files can be automatically deleted from QPS as they are deleted.


Buying QPS

QPS can be purchased only from an authorized QPS VAR or from Quark itself. If you buy directly from Quark, at least one systems administrator must go through QPS training in Colorado. After factoring in tuition, airfare, and a week's hotel bill. I've been told to budget $6,000 for training. All QPS resellers are required to have at least two QPS certified employees. Quark's website at www.quark.com has a list of authorized QPS resellers.

Pricing for QPS is based on individual copies of software and number of users. For software you will need QuarkDispatch -- which includes the QuarkDispatch Server, QuarkDispatch Administrator, QuarkDispatch XTension for QuarkXPress, and QuarkDispatch FileManager -- for $14,850. You will also want QuarkCopyDesk for writers and editors at $765 per copy. To allow third party applications to be part of QPS you will need to buy a copy of QuarkConnect for $2,195, fortunately only one copy per server. QuarkDispatch Planner is $1,925 per copy for your managers. And you will need to buy copies of QuarkXPress if you don't already own them.

In addition to software you will need to buy connections for the QuarkDispatch Server. Each connection allows a single computer to connect to the server with a single application. If you have staff who use both QCD and QXP at the same time you will need to budget for two connections. Each concurrent connection license costs $655.

In addition to buying the above Quark products, an office will also need a file server if it does not already have one. Also plan on either paying a consultant to up QPS or sending staff to Colorado for QPS training. All of the cost listed are for version 1.12. I do not have any cost information for buying version 2 or for upgrading from version 1 to 2.

QPS is an expensive proposition. Publications with staffs will probably decide to do without QPS and manually manage their production process. But larger publications which have been the traditional customers of much more expensive dedicated publishing systems will find QPS to be a bargain.



QPS is an valuable tool for publications. It can be used to automate publications production methods. Whereas a small publication might find the price too high to justify, an office with combined editorial, art, and production staff of 10 or more might find its tools crucial for meeting deadlines.

QuarkCopyDesk, despite its shortcomings, addresses many publication issues. Hyphenation & Justification, line count, viewing in context, and editing after insertion into a layout are vital features. Unfortunately, version 2 might not be a stronger writing tool nor take advantage of Macintosh technologies.

Version 2 will address many of QPS' shortcomings. The biggest change will be the integration of Windows workstations, currently limited to Microsoft WORD and QuarkCopyDesk, into the QPS system. QPS 2 can be a threat to the Macintosh publishing office in that it will eventually allow for QPS to be an entirely Windows-based operation. But the new Windows components will be trailing their Macintosh counterparts by three to six months and I recommend waiting even longer for the bugs to be removed from the proposed Windows products.

QPS is an example of well done group ware. It is deceptively simple and does not require any programming experience, unlike Lotus NOTES and Exchange. It builds on the abilities of the Macintosh, making it easier for people to work together. It is built on a product already familiar to the publishing industry, QuarkXPress. I do recommend to any publication with over 15 staff.


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Revised March 15, 1998 pjc/lic
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