QUARKXPRESS 2016 REVIEW: NEW FEATURES HELP YOUR DOCUMENTS LOOK THEIR BEST
You have to hand it to Quark: every few versions they add a major new capability that has never existed in any program before. With QuarkXPress 2016 they’ve added the ability to—cue drum roll, please—convert imported PDF, EPS, and Adobe Illustrator files to native editable QuarkXPress objects. You can even convert objects or entire pages from Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, Microsoft Office (including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), Corel Draw, Affinity Designer, and other apps.
QuarkXPress 2016 has other innovative new features, many of them based on requests from users. QuarkXPress 2016 is also impressively fast and stable, and those upgrading will be delighted that XTensions written for QuarkXPress 2015 also work with QuarkXPress 2016 (as long as the XTension doesn’t conflict with a new function). And unlike Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress doesn’t require an ongoing subscription. Its perpetual license lets you use the program forever.
Surprisingly, it takes only a few seconds for QuarkXPress 2016 to convert every object in a PDF, EPS, or Adobe Illustrator file to a native QuarkXPress object. You don’t have to convert an entire document; if you import the file into a QuarkXPress picture box and crop it, only the area showing in the box will be converted. You also have the option of keeping the original picture box intact and converting a copy.
The importance of this capability cannot be overstated. Designers often work with charts, graphs, and PowerPoint slides that almost never use the correct colors or fonts for a company’s brand. Conveniently, when these items are converted to native objects in QuarkXPress 2016, their colors are added to the Colors palette where they can be replaced all at once with your brand-approved colors. The text in these graphics is also converted to native QuarkXPress text, so you can easily format it to match the brand by using Style Sheets.
Speaking of text, when converting from these other formats, QuarkXPress does an amazing job of putting text that belongs together into one text box. In contrast, converting these files in Adobe Illustrator breaks the text into so many text objects that it’s almost impossible to edit them. (Many designers prefer to rebuild artwork from scratch rather than wrestle with this mess.)
After converting, vector graphics become native QuarkXPress objects and Adobe Illustrator paths become QuarkXPress paths with the exact same Beziér anchor points as in Illustrator. You can then use the Beziér (pen) tools in QuarkXPress to adjust them.
Here’s one timesaving use for these conversions: Publications almost always receive advertisements in PDF format, and once they’re converted to native QuarkXPress objects, the publication can update prices, dates, and colors inside the ad. That’s never been possible in a page layout program before.
Also, publishers who import charts or maps now have a unique trick available to them. After converting to native QuarkXPress objects, the chart or map can be resized without changing the size of the text within it. (The Scale feature in QuarkXPress lets you choose which attributes to scale.)
To test QuarkXPress’s ability to convert a wide variety of files, I scavenged up the most complex files I could find, dating back to the early 1990s. Unbelievably, every EPS, PDF, and AI file converted perfectly and within seconds. However, any fonts used in these files need to be active on your computer, or else QuarkXPress displays its “missing font” dialog. (If you subsequently activate those fonts, the document displays normally.) Unfortunately, sometimes when converting PDF files each line of text ends with a hard return that may need to be removed before editing the text. That’s a limitation of how the PDF was originally generated.
Convert InDesign, Microsoft Office, and other objects to native QuarkXPress objects
The magical conversions continue: You can copy objects from many other applications and paste them into QuarkXPress as native QuarkXPress objects, including Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, CorelDRAW, Affinity Designer, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Apple Pages. And yes, you can successfully convert an entire InDesign page to QuarkXPress.
In my testing, every object or group of objects I copied from Adobe InDesign and Illustrator, Microsoft Word and Excel, converted to native QuarkXPress items flawlessly. PowerPoint slides converted well, but each line of text became its own box. Graphics from Apple Pages converted as expected, but text lost its formatting. To maintain the formatting, Quark recommends exporting the document from Pages as a PDF file and then converting the PDF file in QuarkXPress.
This ability to convert objects from other applications opens a whole new world of graphic possibilities. For the first time, you can use the Smart Art tools in Microsoft Office applications to create flowcharts and then fine-tune them in QuarkXPress. Same for charts and graphs in Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Microsoft Office. This could fundamentally change the relationship between corporate chart producers and page layout artists.
While InDesign can convert a native Adobe Illustrator file into native InDesign objects (it can’t convert PDF or EPS), the resulting text frames are broken up and difficult to use. In contrast, QuarkXPress 2016 converts the objects exactly as they were in Illustrator. The example below was created in Illustrator, then imported and converted to native objects in InDesign and QuarkXPress.