InDesign vs Quark, yet again

Posted:
in Mac Software edited January 2014
I've read a lot of articles on this subject, and it seems like most of them come from people who have been annoyed by one of the many eccentricities in Quark. It's true, there are many.



I have been working with Quark, in one version or another, for, gee, about 6 years. It's a lot shorter of a span than for some, but it's still a lot of time. It started with student periodicals, and continues with creating technical and marketing documents for my own engineering projects. I have also used PageMaker, which, to its credit, is quite fine for most tasks, but it so much more cumbersome than Quark for doing less.



I could post a feature per feature comparison, but that has been done before, and usually InDesign wins. That's one thing I can certainly say in its favor: InDesigns feature support is excellent, and Adobe provides a great deal of control for manipulating the gamut of graphical and typographical elements in a document.



After a couple of months with InDesign, though, on the whole I still prefer Quark. I think it's a much more elegant app, and since I end up having to use vector and raster graphics programs anyway (FormZ, Illustrator, Photoshop), the ingrained graphic functionality in InDesign doesn't help much at all, but rather only serves to provide more clutter in dialog boxes and floating palettes.



Have I mentioned before how much FormZ rocks? Yes, I think I have.



Quark is an elegant app, and I much prefer its unified workflow to the more segmented InDesign process. That is, I really like the Modify-Item dialog box, and that 95% of what you need to do is organized in two senisibly named menu items.



With all this said, InDesign is a bargain, and I don't think I could have convinced the guys in finance to spring for another $850 of software. As it is, I have racked up a software bill exceeding $20,000 (Matlab + PADS almost does it alone), and the fact that InDesign comes bundled with Photoshop, lllustrator, and some other crap for $1100 is it's biggest advantage. But Quark is the better tool.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    i'll go ahead and disagree with you here. i've was a quark user since '91 and i switched to indesign when my whole agency moved over in '02. while there are some functions that are missing from indesign that are present in quark, many of the other benefits outweigh the disadvantages. i think though that it is largely dependant on what kind of files you're working on.



    i would use indesign over quark for ONLY the ability to place .psd files in layouts and high rez vector art placement. those two things alone make id a better product than quark for my uses. perhaps quark can now use .psd files. i haven't used it since version 4.4 (which was at that version for something like 3 years). when i knew the agency would move over to indesign eventually, i was the first art director to make the switch. in that time i've probably started quark, or even thought about it, maybe 4 times.



    i personally will NEVER go back to quark. in fact, i bear ill will towards them as a company. they basically thumbed their nose at all of their users and now they're paying the price. i consider quark to be the syquest of this decade. dominant at one point but soon to be obsolete.
  • Reply 2 of 23
    placeboplacebo Posts: 5,767member
    I like Indesign a whole lot better; I think the rendering of graphics and text, particularly transparency, looks better, and the integration with Illustrator is indispensable for me.
  • Reply 3 of 23
    frank777frank777 Posts: 5,773member
    I switched to ID from Pagemaker 6.5, but to be honest Adobe has been slacking off in their quest to eliminate Quark.



    I saw no reason to move to InDesign CS, so I didn't.

    If Adobe wants to join the annual update club like Apple, they'll have to step up in the features department.



    I also have no idea why an InDesign Elements package hasn't been introduced for the novice and mid-range market. It's like they want to me to keep having to deal with Microsoft Publisher files from clueless clients.



    They're obviously banking on the cost incentive with the Creative Suite to get InDesign to number one in the market. If Quark or Macromedia (or someone else) brings a Photoshop competitor to market using the Core technologies in Tiger, they may live to regret not pushing the envelope while the Creative Suite was at the top of the heap.



    Hopefully, the next upgrade will also use some kind of central database system to keep track of stories to be used in an InDesign publication, and allow GoLive to generate pages based on that database.
  • Reply 4 of 23
    Quark 6 is a very nice package. It is very true, though, that V4 was around for a lot longer than it should have been.



    Moving on, Quark seems to have a better alpha masking ability, which is a big deal to me.



    Beyond that, it's mostly about workflow and UI. Quark is much less cluttered. I have two big monitors. (2x 20" LCD). With InDesign I have to fill one entire monitor with little palettes that all look alike, and are all really slow to load.



    I've never liked keyboard shortcuts. Sue me.



    Quark also is much better about placing boxes. With Quark, 99% of the time I could make a box, right where I wanted it, at the right size. Just a click and a hold. With InDesign, I always have to punch the dimensions in manually. As with all Adobe apps, they can't figure out how to get rulers to work in InDesign.



    Those are just a few. InDesign has the ability to apply box transparencies and is much more capable at stroking paths, but that's the general idea. Better features, no attention to detail.
  • Reply 5 of 23
    hobbeshobbes Posts: 1,252member
    Wow, I couldn't disagree with you more. Esp. on the attention to detail part.



    I used Quark for 6+ years, began to get increasingly tired with problems w/ both the company and the product, jumped with glee to InDesign about 2 years ago, and have been forced to return to Quark for the past 6 months (started designing in a sadly Quark-bound Art Dept).



    I am not a happy camper.



    Quark 6 works all right (when it works); that's the best I can say about it. It is anything but elegant. It is one clunky mofo, a poor OS X citizen, crashes all too often, and has tons of rendering issues (esp. typographic). For the record, I'm still using QX 6.1; the IT dept. is still testing QX 6.5 (and putting off deployment as they keep finding problems).



    This has posted many times before, but it's such a good and thorough review I'll post again: http://arstechnica.com/reviews/apps/indesign.ars/1



    [/rant]
  • Reply 6 of 23
    Yeah, I've read all the reviews, too, but Quark 6 has been fine on OS X for me, as far as stability, etc. I'm actually using InDesign on a PC, which is what I was given for the job. It's a 3.2GHz P4 with 2Gigs of RAM, and a fairly nice GeForce 5000 series something-or-another. InDesign runs like a old dog. I can't imagine it's any better on the mac.



    But the real point is that no one yet has been able to give me any sort of reason why the workflow in InDesign is better. All I see are comments on nice features in InDesign, and the same rehashed stuff about Quark being an inconsiderate company. I agree with the fact that InDesign has nice features, and the only time I ever interacted with Quark was when I bought a few licenses of XPress. That was easy enough, and I've had no need to contact them since.
  • Reply 7 of 23
    dobbydobby Posts: 794member
    Although we are now an indesign house (since Indesign 2.0), our mac ops can knock up a document (or whatever) in quark faster than in Indesign. Some prefer indesign and some quark.

    I prefer Textedit. There should only be one font for them all!



    Dobby.
  • Reply 8 of 23
    Quote:

    Originally posted by dobby

    There should only be one font for them all!



    Heretic!!!



  • Reply 9 of 23
    i just got Xpress for OS X, i hadn't used a layout program for years. i don't like the way Zprwess renders images, it should be crystal clear imo, and you shouldn't have to download a Xtension, but i got agreat deal on a copy when i upgrade from v4.0.



    does iD render artwork better? ii would be nice to have a better idea of what the layout will look like once printed, before sending off to the printer and waiting for a proof
  • Reply 10 of 23
    you asked about workflow?



    how about being able to import psd files into layouts without having to constantly have one layered photoshop file and one flattened photoshop file for placement in the layout? plus, you have to keep the flattened file updated to the most current unflattened file. that ALONE saved me a LOT of time since i had to make changes to my images often and didn't want to destructively flatten my files.



    who remembers this dance: print out a rough layout. decide to make a change to an image. go to quark to find the image. open, not that image, but the layered version of that image in photoshop. work on image for a while. save image. flatten image. save-as "file_flat.tif". make sure NOT to save the flattened image over the layered image when closing the file window. re-import flattened image into quark. rinse. repeat.



    how about high-rez screen rendering of vector art. when i started at my last job we used to have to print files out to see where the logo was sitting. then move the logo 3 bumps and print it out again. so on and so forth. with indesign we line up the logo to a rule and it's where it's supposed to be.



    how about something simple like having a paste-into-same-location function in indesign? i had a very good system for pasting into same location in quark that the whole studio replicated. of course indesign made that obsolete.



    also, text handling for word spacing and hyphenation rules is better in id than quark.



    there were a few issues that i disliked about id over quark, but since we were a beta site for a major studio switching to indesign, i gave my feedback directly to the engineers.



    Quote:

    Originally posted by Splinemodel

    Moving on, Quark seems to have a better alpha masking ability, which is a big deal to me.



    why does this matter when you can leave a background transparent in a .psd file and import that into indesign with transparency (and 16-bit alpha transparency at that) intact? i like that better than saving a clipping path.
  • Reply 11 of 23
    costiquecostique Posts: 1,084member
    admactanium is right. I've been living with QXP's deficiencies since 1994 and if circustances allow I prefer ID. It's true that every app has its faithful users and is more suitable for certain tasks than other apps, so I just can't blame anyone who likes QXP. Yet I can't stand it any more.



    For example, I find it very convenient to have character formatting options always before my eyes instead of going to the menu to change horizontal scaling (BTW, is it fixed in QXP 6.5?) ID renders text like QXP never did, when certain glitches just distracted you from the actual work. Formatting capabilities of ID, like nested styles, simply blow me away. Full Unicode support (BTW, is QXP still unaware of non-Roman languages?) is one of those 'little features' which make you switch regardless of costs. Instantaneous export to PDF without additional software, multi-page tables, horizontally collapsable palettes, built-in PDF hyperlinks, plus what admactanium has mentioned - all these, at least for me, are much more useful than all the wonderful html crap stuffed into QXP.



    On the other hand, risking to sound like a heretic, I think that neither Adobe nor Quark really know how to write software for OS X. Their cross-platform ambitions lead to creating non-standard UIs, often failing at the simplest tasks like single/double click handling in measurement editing fields. Adobe's plug-in architecture is weird. Quark is even worse because they charge developers for the SDK... Sorry for my rant.



    What I wanted to ask Splinemodel is, do you believe that QXP is still worth its price?
  • Reply 12 of 23
    The only gripe I have with ID is how it starts to bog down once you start loading the pages and files onto it. I hear Quark is a little snappier in that department.
  • Reply 13 of 23
    yeah, quark has almost always been more responsive than indesign in its default setting. because indesign tried to render its images in too high rez. this was unbearable in version 1.5 but got better as time went on. if you were loading up on vector files and were rendering them at high quality display in got pretty slow. the trade off for quark's speed however, was an inability to precisely place some types of images, WITHOUT the option to render them in high rez at least for placement.



    in our studio that lead to a LOT of wasted time and paper to get an illustrator file to line up exactly with, say, the bottom line of copy. sometimes the page would have to be changed and printed out upwards of 10 times. and one small change like adding a line of copy would mean the whole process would have to be repeated. that's really quite ridiculous when you think about it.
  • Reply 14 of 23
    I suspect that it is in everyone's best interest for both applications to prosper. In theory at least, competition between Quark and Adobe should lead to improvements in both layout programs. From what many of you are saying, though, we haven't reached an optimum level for either incarnation.



    Design and word processing software has a curious history. For instance, some people swear that Word 5.5 was Microsoft's best app of the breed, giving way to "enhancements" that brought on bloat and bugs. (I've heard similar remarks about the stability of earlier versions of Quark.) But with apps like Photoshop or After Effects, you just don't hear people pining for version 5.5, as good as it may have been at the time. That should tell us something.
  • Reply 15 of 23
    i agree. to me adobe is nearly the only company which actually improves the usability of their software in each successive generation rather than just losing the plot and wandering off to something stupid (ie quark and web design). the only criticism that can be laid at adobe's feet is that some of their new versions don't include enough improvements.
  • Reply 16 of 23
    I don't understand why so many people complain about Quark not being able to import native PSD files. I hardly ever save my PhotoShop files as PSD files now that you can save layered TIFF files.



    Quark can use layered TIFF files. So if you have an image you plan to use and it has layers save it as a TIFF instead and you use it anywhere. InDesign is okay but it still seems like Quark makes much cleaner and more useable PostScript files even though InDesign is made by the same company that owns PostScript. PageMaker was horrible at making good clean PostScript and it seems to me that InDesign has followed it in that regard.



    InDesign's high-res vector art display is a very nice feature and I can understand it pulling some people away from Quark. I still prefer Quark over InDesign but InDesign is very, very close behind and if Quark stumbles then InDesign will move to number one for me.
  • Reply 17 of 23
    amoryaamorya Posts: 1,103member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Sybaritic

    I suspect that it is in everyone's best interest for both applications to prosper. In theory at least, competition between Quark and Adobe should lead to improvements in both layout programs. From what many of you are saying, though, we haven't reached an optimum level for either incarnation.



    Design and word processing software has a curious history. For instance, some people swear that Word 5.5 was Microsoft's best app of the breed, giving way to "enhancements" that brought on bloat and bugs. (I've heard similar remarks about the stability of earlier versions of Quark.) But with apps like Photoshop or After Effects, you just don't hear people pining for version 5.5, as good as it may have been at the time. That should tell us something.




    I dunno - Photoshop 5.5 was my favourite version



    Amorya
  • Reply 18 of 23
    Quote:

    Originally posted by admactanium

    you asked about workflow?



    . . . .







    All of your points are interesting, but in the real world we have to use TIFFs. People will send them to you, and expect you to send TIFFs to them. Maybe one day this will not be the case.



    Next, when I say alpha masks, I don't mean clipping paths. I'm talking about alpha masks themselves. . . which are grayscale images that dictate transparency. I'm sure you know this. Anyway, InDesign gives you two confusing sliders, and regardless of how I position them, the output is crap. Perhaps I could just import a PSD file, but. . . oh yeah, the world uses TIFFs, and that's what the images in quest are. Quark produces a much smoother, more elegant alpha render.



    As far as the cost of Quark, it depends how much I would be laying out, and for what. If I were still in the magazine gig, I would gladly pay for Quark. Not only is it easier to use, but there's no Vietnam with the printers. Now I just make documents from time to time. They are all based on a pretty simple datasheet-esque layout, never get too long, and just go straight to PDF. For my current role, InDesign is more cost effective, since the qualities it lacks don't hit me too hard.



    So, basically, to me, InDesign is just a high-end PageMaker. It's a decent product, but when I want to do real work, I'm still going to use Quark.
  • Reply 19 of 23
    For those using layered PSD files in their page layout files...what are you sending to press? High-res pdf files, or the native InDesign doc w/supporting files? Or, is the final product used for screen (i.e., web) viewing only?
  • Reply 20 of 23
    wilcowilco Posts: 985member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Splinemodel

    All of your points are interesting, but in the real world we have to use TIFFs. People will send them to you, and expect you to send TIFFs to them. Maybe one day this will not be the case.



    I'm not sure what "real world" you're referring to. I'm doing production/art direction for a half dozen magazines (along with freelance print advertising), and rarely come across situations where people are sending me TIFFs, and even fewer where they expect to be sent TIFFs.
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