Quark unveiled QuarkXPress 8, the newest version of its professional page layout application, at the Drupa printing exposition on Thursday. Version 8 will include new design tools geared towards improving creative workflows and enhanced typography support for better text control.
QuarkXPress 8 will add Bezier pen tools for vector-based illustrations, smart Item and Text Content tools that contextually change behavior, a new Measurements palette, a Picture Content tool for modifying image frames and sizes on the fly, and a redesigned interface to help users work faster and more efficiently. The new version will also gain the ability to add content to documents via drag-and-drop from any drag-and-drop aware application like iPhoto, Adobe Bridge, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Microsoft Word.
The new typography tools give users more precise control over the text in their documents and finally add hanging character support for optical alignment. They include paragraph-by-paragraph text and punctuation alignment control, several alignment presets, and the ability to create custom presets.
The new version includes built in support for Adobe Flash content creation -- a feature that previously required the Quark Interactive Designer add-on package. No Flash coding skills are required, and completed layouts can be exported for use in HTML documents, as SWF or as self-running Flash applications.
QuarkXPress 8 also includes improved international support and a unified file format that allows users to open any QuarkXPress 8 document regardless of the language it was originally created in. Users will, however, still have to purchase the appropriate version of the application based on the languages they plan to use when creating documents.
While Quark has been seen as lagging behind Adobe in the professional page layout application market, QuarkXPress 8 goes a long way towards ensuring that there will be healthy competition for some time to come, which is good news for graphic designers everywhere.
QuarkXPress 8 is expected to ship within the next 60 days, but final pricing has not yet been announced. Users that purchase or upgrade to QuarkXPress 7 between May 29 and August 1, 2008, will be eligible for a free upgrade to QuarkXPress 8.