QuarkXPress 7 Passport Review
Reviewed by: Makaveli
Reviewed on: January 30, 2008
When consumers are looking online for a product or service, they usually are drawn to the more visually appealing page layouts. But it must be ridiculously hard to create those astonishing page layouts, right? Without sophisticated programs, you might be hard pressed to make your page layouts the way you want them – until now. Quark has just released its all new page layout software called QuarkXPress 7 and we’ll be taking an in-depth look into the “Passport” version. The QuarkXPress 7 Passport version is different from the original QuarkXPress 7 because it offers multi-lingual and international publishing of your work, making it easy for anyone wishing to reach a foreign audience.
If you purchase any QuarkXPress 7 version, included will be the Quark XPert Tools Pro and Quark Interactive Designer. We will integrate all of the included upgrade products into this review so that you can get an idea for what the whole package is capable of.
The QuarkXPress 7 Passport came packaged in a DVD case which has some unique art on the front cover. On the back side, you’ll just find the logo and some disclaimers. The bottom of the DVD case was a little bit busted up from shipping but the disc was fine, so it wasn’t a big deal.
Inside the case, you’ll find the installation disc as well as a big orange card which has your serial number and validation code printed on it. Be sure to read all the information on the card before proceeding.
Now let’s get a closer look at the other two products included with QuarkXPress 7 Passport!
As mentioned earlier, when you purchase Quark XPress 7, you'll receive a free copy of Quark Interactive Designer and Quark XPert Tools Pro. The Quark Interactive Designer is an add on that allows you to integrate motion, sound, and more into your projects.
Quark XPert Tools Pro is a set of software tools that you can use to enhance productivity within QuarkXPress 7. This add on does not need a validation code for you to be able to install and use these tools.
Now that we've examined each of the included products, let's move on and get everything installed.
To correctly install QuarkXPress 7 Passport and Quark Interactive Designer, insert the discs into your optical drive, starting with XPress 7, and follow the on screen instructions. You’ll have to enter in that long validation code found on those cards on the inside of each case to be able to start the installation. The installation process was a bit longer than I expected and one of the reasons was that I had to fill out all of my mailing information before I could install the software.
Quark XPert Tools Pro is a little bit different. There is no "setup.exe" file that you click, you have to manually drag each "Xtension" into the "Quark/Xtensions" folder.
It’s now time to configure the software and learn our way around the program.
When I first opened up the program, I thought I had mistakenly opened Adobe Photoshop because the workspace looks almost identical. That’s a good thing because Adobe Photoshop is an extremely easy program to use and it’s easy to find everything you need. First, let’s go ahead and see what all of the available tabs at the top have to offer. Under “File” you’ll find options to start a new project or open a current project. If you look closely, you’ll also see the option for “Job Jackets”. A “Job Jacket” is a folder that you can use to keep all of the files, images, and attachments for your project together so that the final print comes with everything you collected along the way for your project. The next tab is “Edit” which is where I found the master collection of all the languages you can use with XPress 7 Passport. Quite a hefty list, huh? The next available tab without a project open is the “Utilities” tab. Here is where you’ll be able to manage most of your projects or “Job Jackets” as well as tools, such as a dictionary.
The “Window” tab is where you can manage your workspace and customize it to suit your needs. If you’re wondering what tools the toolbox houses, here’s a list: Item, Content, Rotation, Zoom, Rectangle Text Box, Rectangle Picture Box, Tables, Line, Line Text-Path, Linking, Unlinking, Composition, Scissors, and the Starburst tool.
Pretty jam-packed already, wouldn’t you agree? Now let’s examine some of the features more closely.
Let’s go ahead and start a new project so that we can unlock the rest of the features. I really like the layout of the workspace and it truly does remind me of Adobe Photoshop. On the right side of the workspace you’ll notice a toolbox that has Page Layout, Style Sheets, Colors, and Layers menus that allow you to use those options in real time while you’re working on a project.
Now let’s utilize some of the basic tools such as the “Tables” tool. When you draw a table, on the release of the mouse, you’ll be prompted with a window asking you to define how you wish the table to look. Notice how the toolbox below the page filled up with options for alignment, spacing, borders, and much more for the table.
One of my favorite tools to use is the Composition Zone tool. With this tool, you can zone off pieces of the project and send them out to different workstations to enable more coworkers to contribute to the job. This helps get the project done much more efficiently. Like the tables, text is also very customizable because as soon as you write some text, that tool box at the bottom of the page fills up again with a plethora of options to customize the text.
So now that we’ve got a basic idea of the workspace and the options, let’s compare this software to another page design software.
These features listed are only the new features of QuarkXPress 7 that aren't in any other version of XPress. The rest of the features can be found on Quark's website.
Basic functionality and navigation
- Unify major functionality in a single location with tabbed Measurements palette
- Apply colors with a single action from Measurements palette
- Use keyboard shortcuts to tab through Measurements palette
- Use improved space/align controls on the Measurements palette
- Create tabs quickly and accurately with new Measurements palette controls and guides
- Save screen real estate by using palette groups and sets
- Organize your workspace with palette smart snapping
- Switch image alpha channels on the fly from Measurements palette
- Open and edit QuarkXPress Passport® files with single-language versions of QuarkXPress
- Apply language settings at the character level
Layout, design, and graphics management
- Apply individual opacity settings at the color level to text, box backgrounds, frames, lines, blend colors, etc.
- Support alpha channels in imported images
- Control layer opacity and blending mode of imported PSD files
- Automatically flatten with resolution control
- Export transparent PNG images from Web layouts
- Apply soft drop shadows to page items
- Skew, offset, and scale drop shadows
- Synchronize drop shadow angles throughout the layout
- Create text runaround from drop shadows
- Use independent or inherited item opacity and shadow opacity
- Knock out drop shadow with item
- Multiply drop shadow to combine drop shadows with objects below the shadow
- Synchronize boxes, pictures, text, and lines
- Synchronize attributes (color, transformations, picture effects, styles, etc.)
- Work in single-layout mode to simplify file naming
- Append layouts within projects for easy content sharing
- Export layouts into individual files or save them as an earlier version
- Use split window view
- Display multiple windows for the same layout
- Use native transparency and drop shadows in Web layouts
- Import Shockwave® Flash™ (SWF) files for interactivity in Web pages
- Export vector objects and text as SWF from Web layouts
- Benefit from superior smoothing with the new graphics engine
- Export anti-aliased graphics from Web layout
- Render shapes and rotate text more smoothly with the new graphics engine
- Apply Blur and Diffuse to alpha mask
- Integrate image formatting with shared content feature
- Edit contrast curves numerically
- Integrate alpha mask with existing layer opacity and blending mode features
- Control content flow by linking text cells within a table or linking tables to each other
Printing and production
- Use Composition Zones™ technology to share layouts among multiple projects and workstations with live updates
- Use Composition Zones technology to design simultaneously in multiple media types or layout sizes
- Use Composition Zones technology to divide a page for collaborative design
- Synchronize design settings (among multiple users)
- Synchronize color management settings (among multiple users)
- Initiate jobs from tickets with built-in production settings
- Customize preflighting and automatically evaluate layout at output, open, save
- Access Job Jackets™ Manager for advanced users such as printers, who can provide Job Jackets to clients
- Use JDF-compatible settings
- Send real-time updates on all Job Jacket settings to layouts
- Use always-on, always profile-based color management
- Automatically monitor profile detection
- Bundle key settings of source and output setups for color management
- Use casual and advanced modes for color management
- Easily soft proof files on-screen
- Simulate various output devices on-screen, such as grayscale
- Embed CMM preferences in layouts
- Use LogoSync for black point compensation
- Color manage whole workgroups with live updates via Quark Job Jackets files
- Use presets for major color management standards
- Color manage non-destructive image color correction
- Color manage vector EPS and PDF files
- Emulate color transformations of previous versions of QuarkXPress via ICC profiles
- Access numerous additional advanced settings for color management
- Create, share, and use PDF Output styles
- Use preset standard PDF styles for typical workflows
- Gain support for PDF/X 1-a and PDF/X 3
- Export PDF with JDF
- Evaluate PDF/X criteria during layout
- Verify based on standard Callas libraries
- Create smaller PDF file size through optimization and preset use
- Use OpenType font features including:
- Standard and discretionary ligatures
- Cross-platform support for ligatures
- Ligatures on-the-fly
- Titling alternates
- All small caps
- Contextual alternates
- Proportional Figures
- Tabular Figures
- Oldstyle Figures
- Lining Figures
- Superscript and subscript
- Numerator and denominator
- Case-sensitive forms and capital spacing
- Historical forms
- Scientific inferiors
- Cross-stream ("vertical") kerning pairs
- OpenType styling support in Find/Change
- OpenType styling support in XPress Tags
- OpenType Kerning Preference
- Glyphs palette
- Insert Invisibles from Glyphs palette or Utilities menu
- New glyphs for invisible characters
- Font fallback to find correct font for unsupported characters
- Find related alternate glyphs through the alternate glyph window in the Glyphs palette
- Store and access favorite glyphs
- Insert special characters from a menu
- Access style sheets through any character attribute location, including Measurements palette
- Revert paragraph attributes without removing local character formatting
- Change Case
- New default values for standard H&Js
- Five new default H&Js including "No Hyphenation"
- Paragraph rules can be set at "Column" length
PPML, XML, and media-independent publishing
- Export PPML for custom printing
- Use PPML consumers/output style
- Import XML for variable data
-Source from Quark's website: http://www.quark.com/products/xpress/features.html
I honestly do not have any page layout software that is nearly of the same caliber as the Quark XPress 7 Passport. Instead of comparing it against anything, I'm going to build a very simple page to give you a better idea of some of the features and ease of use. I will be recording my feelings on certain features as well.
- CPU: Intel Q6600 Core 2 Quad
- Motherboard: Abit IN9 32X Max WiFi
- Memory: 2 x 2GB Mushkin XP2-6400 4-4-4-12
- Video Card: Sapphire HD 3870
- Power Supply: Ultra X3 800 Watt Modular Power Supply
- Hard Drive(s): 2 x 500GB Seagate SATA, 1 x WD 160GB SATA
- Opticals: Sony DVD-R Burner, Sony DVD-ROM
- O/S: Windows Vista Ultimate 32bit
The first thing that needs to happen is to create a project. It was very easy for me to create custom colors for the background and text.
Now I'd like to put in an image. Let's take the OverclockersClub logo and see if we can edit it. What do you know? You can edit pictures in this page layout software. Isn't that insane? Obviously, there aren't nearly as many options as Adobe Photoshop but traditionally, this kind of software doesn't allow you to edit images. Quark is a step ahead of the game in this aspect.
I'm going to create a "Contact Us" page for my project. The "Radio Button" tool is great and easy to use. You just draw a box and it'll automatically put the radio button inside, then it will give you the option to type your text. Don't forget to change the background color from white to whatever you're using so that your radio buttons blend in. It's just as easy to make a button. Just draw the box, write the text, and set it to "Submit" or "Reset". Before we get too much further, let's go ahead and set the default program for previewing so that we can see our project the way we wish to see it.
Let's keep putting together this simple page!
Let's make a menu for this project. For this particular example, I just made a few menu items and linked them to our website. If I wanted to create a video welcoming each person to the page, it's just a few clicks away to get it into your project. This program is just about limitless.
Before we get too far, let's say that I'd like to link all of my pages and images together so that my coworker can work on this project while I do. It's very easy to link everything together and you can also set the time you want your project to update. This makes it easy for you to see what your coworkers are adding and vice versa - in real time.
After drawing up the page a little bit more by adding styles to my text and adding a text box for the survey, I wanted to see if I could spell check and get a word count. What do you know? Quark XPress 7 allows you to do both!
To export your project, just go to "File" and then "Export." I chose to export my project as HTML and the very simple page that I created in a few minutes is ready for publication!
I was really pleased with this software because everything was so easy to use. I was literally dragging, drawing and the program was creating objects and code to give me a very nice, yet simple outcome.
The QuarkXPress 7 Passport is a must have for any business or individual looking to create rich, appealing, and robust page layouts while reaching an international or multi-language audience. I was completely blown away by the software due to the plethora of options and features included. The included Quark Interactive Designer and Quark XPert Tools Pro were really what made this an unbeatable package. The QuarkXPress 7 resembles Adobe Photoshop in terms of visual appearance, making it extremely easy to navigate the user interface for an avid Photoshop user such as myself. The three toolboxes in the workspace provide many options at the tip of your fingers. There’s no longer any need to go digging through the manual or menus to find what you’re looking for. I wouldn’t recommend this software to everyday users who aren’t really serious about designing page layouts and this is solely because of the price. This is professional-grade software that is completely stuffed with a surplus of options to give the user everything they could ever ask for, and more.
- Ease of Use
- A Glut of Options
- International & Multi-Language Publishing Capabilities
- Composition Zones
- Palette Controls
- Image Editing within Layout