High-end desktop tool is low on accurate feedback

Pros and cons:
+        Powerful text tools
–        Output not WYSIWYG


Real-life requirements:
Windows 9x or Windows NT, Pentium Pro or Pentium II processor, 64M RAM, 25M free
on hard drive; Mac requirements not tested





Almost five years ago, I installed QuarkXPress 3.0 on a brand-new Apple Power
Macintosh. It seemed gloriously faster than the desktop publisher I had been using on an
old Classic Mac.


What was a wonderful Mac application never quite passed muster under Microsoft Windows.
In the years that followed, the Mac began to fade into the shadows of Intel Pentium MMX
and Pentium II platforms. But even in its recent renaissance, it has needed a 32-bit
QuarkXPress.


I was glad for the chance to try QuarkXPress 4.0 and the downloadable updates that make
it Version 4.03. The patches are available from the Web at http://www.quark.com.


I tested only the 32-bit Windows version, not the identical Mac version. Quark did
fairly well under Windows, although it needs some output adjustments.


When I created a document in landscape format, for example, QuarkXPress did not notify
the printer drivers or warn me to change the settings. Other applications are much
friendlier in that regard.


Also, the output did not appear clear when a document included an Encapsulated
PostScript element and a PCL driver was used. The .eps element looked fuzzy, apparently
having had a low-resolution bitmap image substituted. QuarkXPress did not warn about this,
either.


When I printed with a PostScript driver, Quark warned, “Page could contain .eps
pictures which include binary data. OK to continue?” I clicked Yes, and the resulting
output was sharp and accurate—that is, if the orientation was set correctly.


QuarkXPress also didn’t pull any information from the printer driver. For every
new document, I had to remind it that the Hewlett-Packard Co. Color LaserJet 5/5M was, in
fact, a color printer. The application kept reverting to black and
white. What-you-see-is-what-you-get accuracy suffered, too.


For placing .eps art, QuarkXPress uses a low-resolution .tif image tagged onto the
file. That’s fine for general placements, but more often than not, it was inaccurate.
The art box frame occasionally chopped off some of the art in the printout. Sometimes the
.tif image was distorted enough that I could not predict where things would show up.


On the Windows platform, TrueType fonts tend to be more prevalent than their PostScript
counterparts.


Unfortunately, Quark’s on-screen TrueType representations weren’t very
accurate, chopping off horizontal fringes of letters. The fringes of some fonts still
got chopped off even in text inset, a setting that adds a margin within the box.


QuarkXPress is a high-end desktop publishing tool that, for $750, should give totally
accurate user feedback. It lacks a Hypertext Markup Language transport tool that
other desktop publishing tools supply. It can, however, export Adobe Acrobat Portable
Document Format files.


QuarkXPress makes indexing easy and does automatic formatting and page
numbering. Its uncluttered desktop and understandable features still make it a leader
in desktop publishing. But the 32-bit version needs more refinement for the Windows
environment.

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