The Real News in Quark’s DPS Announcement

When Quark announced its Quark Dynamic Publishing Solution this week, the big news was that the company is moving deeper into the enterprise market, right? Wrong. Quark has been on this path for some time, and the whole Quark DPS thing is just another logical extension of that business plan. The real news for me was several paragraphs deep in Quark’s press release where they make a very clear statement about the future of QuarkXPress, the company’s flagship desktop publishing application.

Here’s what Quark CEO Ray Schiavone had to say:

“QuarkXPress is a valuable and widely-used graphic design and page layout tool in its own right, and will play an integral role in Quark DPS. QuarkXPress is and always will be the foundation of our product portfolio and we will continue to invest in it to meet the needs of individual designers and large organizations alike.”

Take a close look at that second sentence, because it’s more important than everything else in the press release. It’s the part where Quark says it isn’t dumping QuarkXPress to focus only on the potentially lucrative enterprise market. It’s the part where Ray makes a public promise to continue developing and supporting QuarkXPress, and that’s a good thing.

Sure, Quark is the company designers love to hate, but that doesn’t change the fact that we need Quark and QuarkXPress to keep Adobe on its toes. As long as we have good competition between QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign, everyone in the design and publishing community wins. It was Quark’s complacency after stomping PageMaker into the ground that created the “everybody hates Quark but loves XPress” mentality because we didn’t have competition or choices.

OK, to be fair Quark’s former boss Fred Ibrahimi’s total disconnect with customers and general jerk-head attitude drove users away in droves. He did more on his own to drive customers to InDesign than Adobe could have managed with its bottomless pit of resources. Adobe should send Fred a fruit basket to say thanks.

Despite the “screw you, Quark” attitude many designers have today, the truth is that we all need QuarkXPress even if we use InDesign instead. The two applications bring a balance to the universe and give us as consumers choice. The idea of being limited to a single professional page layout application really creeps me out, and I’m glad we have options along with healthy competition.

The truth is that sometimes QuarkXPress is the right tool for the job, and other times it’s Adobe InDesign. You get to decide which you prefer — as it should be.

Rumors that QuarkXPress was going to be phased out have been around for a while now, so it’s good that Quark is finally addressing them.

Just one question for Ray: Why did you wait so long to make a statement? Christ, man, don’t leaving us hanging like that.

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