For Position Only: Switch to InDesign or Stick with QuarkXPress?
I learned desktop publishing in PageMaker, but no sooner did I get up to speed than the particular magazine where I worked switched to QuarkXPress. That was 1992. So for the last decade I, like the rest of the graphic arts industry, have been married (or shackled, depending on your point of view) to QuarkXPress. Oh, I tried InDesign 1.0, but I shelved it after the first few days, when I tried to print a document and got some obtuse PostScript error. An Adobe application that can't print to a PostScript printer? Forget it.
Since then, however, I did upgrade to InDesign 1.5.2, which I've launched occasionally and played with, mostly out of curiosity and to become familiar with it, but for all practical purposes, QuarkXPress has remained my dominant page layout program. That is, until now.
My Own Private Workflow
Before I tell you why I'm switching, first let me say that I know it's a lot easier for me to switch than for many of you. I work for myself, and my publishing needs are straightforward and few: type-heavy business collateral is most of what I lay out for print; otherwise, I do a lot of testing, experimenting, proofing, and copy-fitting in page layout applications, and in these circumstances, I work with files created in whatever application the designer uses; it's not my choice.
But I'm also not a cog in a larger organization where I might be held back by corporate standards, limited by budget restrictions, pressured by production schedules, or worried about vendor relationships. All of these factors can make technological change tremendously challenging. But for those of you who, like me, work for yourselves and are in control of your own publishing destiny, we have the freedom to choose, right now, whether to upgrade from XPress 4.1 to 5.0, or switch to InDesign 2.0.
If you're expecting me to list a bunch of features that compel me to suddenly launch InDesign instead of QuarkXPress when I need to lay out a page, I'm afraid I may disappoint. Sure, there are some features that are tremendously appealing -- the type controls, for example, such as dynamic type reflow as you compose a paragraph, and the beautiful new table editor -- but all of you XPress aficionados out there will quickly pick a fight and argue the merits of version 5.0's new table features and other boons of that application. For me, the switch is less about features and more about simplifying my desktop (and my life) and choosing to go with an all-Adobe workflow.
As creativepro editor Pamela Pfiffner wrote last week the page layout battle is now about which company can win "the hearts and minds of creative professionals," and Adobe has won mine. The fact is, I use almost all Adobe apps already, and the way that InDesign so seamlessly integrates with Photoshop, Illustrator, and Acrobat -- importing and exporting files, maintaining editable transparency, standard color management settings and proofing controls -- well, I'd be crazy not to switch to InDesign to leverage all of those capabilities.
Along those lines, I'm 100-percent certain that PDF is going to become an ever more popular format for final output because of its robust capabilities and reliable nature. And that being where the future is headed, I want to work within applications created by PDF's developer and with PDF output in mind.
Resistance is Futile
I know, I know: Adobe is the Microsoft of the publishing world. It's frightening to think that two companies make 95 percent of the software that I use. And the truth is, I use Microsoft products because I have to, not because I want to. I resisted Internet Explorer and Outlook Express as long as I possibly could, but I've come to face the hard fact that Explorer (5.0) is a better browser than Navigator (version 4.7-- I downloaded and trashed 6.0 a while ago), and when I got Office 2001:Mac, I made the switch from Eudora to Entourage not because it was a whole lot better, but because it offered the convenience of integration (command shortcuts, preferences, and the fact that if you accidentally capitalize the first two letters of a word, Microsoft apps all automatically make the second letter lower case for you -- I love that).
But unlike with Microsoft, I'm willing, almost eager, to go with all Adobe applications. Maybe I'm just getting too old to fight off the inevitable, but it just makes so much sense to streamline my design and production needs with applications that all come from the same vendor. And honestly, not only do I have respect for Adobe's business practices, I also like its products. They're not perfect -- no software is -- but they're well engineered, they facilitate both creativity and production, and they give me what I need. Simple proof of that: InDesign 2.0 is Mac OS/X native; QuarkXPress 5.0 isn't. What is Quark thinking?
I appreciate the fact that competition between Adobe and Quark has been good for the market and has driven innovation. But in some ways we've come full circle: QuarkXPress 5.0 and InDesign 2.0 have a lot in common, such as support for layers and improvements to table creation and editing, to long-document support, and to XML tagging.
Let's face it, friends. Either product can do the job we need it to do; both companies are looking two, five, ten years down the line and working toward making our lives easier not just now, but in the future. Technology is about change, that's a fact of life. And for me, the time is right to change from QuarkXPress to InDesign. I'm hopeful that it will be one of the least painful, most sensible changes I make in life, so I'm just gonna do it. I'll let you know how it works out.
Read more by Anita Dennis.