A running rant about bad television, crappy products, horrible service, mindless politics, corporate and government ineptitude, moronic media, marketing overload, public idiocy, stupid entertainment, etc. Here's what's annoying me today:

2.06.2006

Quark, you and I are through



This is going to be a bit of inside baseball for most general readers. Not sure how many people outside the publishing business even know what Quark XPress is. For the uninitiated, it is the software program that has been the standard bearer for producing newspapers, magazines etc., since the publishing world went desktop nearly 20 years ago. I have been essentially married to it since I started using version 1.0 back in about 1987. Do other people whose jobs center around the computer feel that way about the software program they use most? That you know it so well... know all its quirks (a favorite Quark nickname)... know what annoys you about it... how to manipulate it to make it do what you want. It really is like being married. Can't live with it, but can't live without it.

Anyway Friday, after whining (along with most other Quark users) for nearly five years and wasting half the day trying to uncover the reason for it's daily flip-out, I started to switch my largest job over to InDesign, the competing program by Adobe. It's a huge undertaking, because not only do you have to rebuild the entire job template from scratch, but you have to essentially learn a new language at the same time. InDesign, from all my experience so far does everything better, but also does everything different.

Now as to why, I have had to take this drastic step:

Quark Xpress, for at least the last five years has become the suckiest software program on earth, and Quark the most arrogant company. What other program regularly corrupts files beyond repair, rendering a 50 page magazine file useless. Of course anybody who used Quark with any regularity has become so paranoid that they back up files, make duplicates, copy the files to another machine about every ten minutes, just because they know that eventually Quark is going to kill the file.

Five or so years ago, Apple moved its operating system to OS X, a system that required software developers to completely rewrite their software. Every other software company whose clients worked heavily on the Mac, had their software updated within six months to a year. Quark took nearly three years to come up with a release that was compatible with OS X, forcing users to either put off upgrading their systems, and therefore upgrading any other software they owned. Or to run a completely separate system in the background, a process that led to a whole host of other problems.

When Quark finally did come up with a new version three years later, if was so full of bugs, that many people still didn't upgrade. It crashes regularly, displays things on the screen that aren't really there, and many other problems too numerous to even get into.

Quark Inc. has also behaved like the arrogant monopoly that is was. Nobody (except me) ever bought version 5.0, because it came out after OS X, but wasn't OS X compatible. So 90% of users were still using 4.0. When Quark finally did come out with a new version that was OS X compatible three years later (6.0), they purposely put a block on it, so you couldn't downsave to 4.0. Essentially they were forcing everyone to buy the upgrade for every computer they owned.

So anybody that did upgrade right away had to deal with clients that were still on 4.0, and hence, couldn't open the files. Any users with a history with Quark know not to upgrade right away, because every new version they come out with is completely riddled with bugs. So users were in this classic Catch-22. Should I upgrade first, and have my client not be able to open my files, of wait, and have the opposite problem?

Over the past year, most of the publishing industry has been switching over to InDesign. I bought it about a year ago, and have been slowly learning it, and building jobs for new clients in it for six months. It seems like a great program. It may have its own share of problems, and Adobe is an even bigger monopoly than Quark ever was. But if nothing else, I no longer live in quite the fear I always did with Quark, that if I do something it doesn't like, it's going to destroy a week's worth of work.

So goodbye Quark. You were my first software love. We had some good times together. But now its time to leave your sorry ass behind.

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23 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

They are coming out with Version 7 , you may want to take a sneak peak by downloading the Public Beta

11:03 AM

 
Blogger Cranky said...

Too late for me. I've been through the "wait till the next version" line too many times. The next version just introduces a whole new slew of bugs and problems. I've moved on, and am not looking back.

By the way, isn't every version of Quark, a Beta? Essentially they just throw it out there (and collect their $1000), and wait for us users to find all the problems.

11:14 AM

 
Blogger blogagog said...

I predict that Cranky and Quark will resolve their differences. I look forward to the day when Cranky says, "Quark, I just can't quit you."

7:00 PM

 
Anonymous Bryan said...

I think Quark is done. I also have worked with Quark since 1990, in a prepress context. While I will necessarily continue to use Quark in that context, InDesign has become my fave, and I see customers moving over every day, once they find that those certain quirks in Quark that they've been working around for years simply are not an issue in CS.
I have tried out the 7 beta, it's too little too late. The performance of 7 beta absolutely blows, and I have too little time to wait for a simple dialog to open, so I haven't spent alot of time with it. The interface looks like a crude rip-off of the InDesign palette system. The collaboration functionality is useless to people like me. And, after all these years, they still can't include a simple pre-flight functionality. It's probably a safe bet that the software won't be fully useable until v7.5.
Sometimes we have to let an errant friend go...

10:06 AM

 
Blogger Lettuce said...

Five or so years ago, Apple moved its operating system to OS X, a system that required software developers to completely rewrite their software.

That's not so.

6:45 PM

 
Blogger Cranky said...

Well set me straight then Lettuce. I don't know the ins and outs of software development, all I know is it took Quark three years to get a version that worked on OS X.

8:21 PM

 
Anonymous InDesignGuy said...

Anonymous,I have tried out the Beta. IT is no better than George Bush.Not only is it slow,full of bugs,deletes file automatically from servers and is simply quirky and unpredictable. Sorry to say Quark is going to die a slow death.

10:30 AM

 
Anonymous InDesignGuy said...

Quark is arrogant,rude,does not care about its customers.Anyone who has worked with QuarkXPress know that how unpredictable it is when saving,working with documents,file sizes,fonts,printing,take any feature and it sucks.

10:40 AM

 
Blogger Carmi said...

Your experience largely explains why Quark is in market share freefall.

I write about the industry - this is textbook what not to do to ensure your company's future.

Watch for the firm to be bought out before long.

12:13 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I feel so much better! I thought I was alone, but cranky, you have said it all. I'm not crazy!! I just lost two days' of work and recreated the file today only to be flogged with a new error that has rendered my entire morning lost--all three versions I saved. I'm in hate with Quark... thinking about keeping everything in Word. Ow.

1:09 PM

 
Anonymous InDesignGuy said...

I wonder why cranky is not posting on his own BLOG !!!!!!

2:08 PM

 
Blogger Cranky said...

Cranky's here. I've said all I need to about Quark for now. For some reason my comments keep disappearing, though.

2:59 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally think Quark is on a superior long-term track than Adobe, current version notwithstanding. Here’s why:

1. DOM document model will make Quark docs forward and backward compatible in perpetuity. Quark is now into OPEN standards, not proprietary control-freak standards like Adobe makes its money on.
2. Color-based transparency (as opposed to object based like ID) is much cooler way to design
3. Non-destructive image editing is the future..one file many outputs…replaces 90% of what you need Photoshop for.
4. Collaboration….hello it’s the age of Instant Message and Quark gets it and is adding it to DTP as a standard
5. Job Jackets are Flight Check on steroids for whole books or campaigns…and JDF based
6. 1 palette does the job of 11 in Indesign
7. Multi layout projects with synchronized content
8. Hundreds of killer XT’s available for every purpose under the sun…compared to the few lame ones for ID
9. Universal Binary lead means a lead for several years to come as Adobe solves its nightmares of conversion for CS and Macromedia…customers will pay with bugs and glitches in “proprietary format world”
10. ALAP had some serious IP and it’s Quark’s now so if you need to get serious publishing done fast, I have a feeling like you’re going to want Quark 7 and 8.

9:29 AM

 
Anonymous Mavranos said...

I don't think it matters if Quark comes out with a mind-reading layout VOODOO function. It's dead to me.
People have been complaining about Quarks poor attitude towards its customers since its launch.
And as soon as a viable alternative was available they started hemoraging customers.
They made their bed now they can toss and turn in it.

Congrats cranky on your awakening!

4:53 PM

 
Anonymous Skyline said...

Preferably, our clients supply us with preflighted X1A PDFs, but . . .

We use Markzware's Q2ID to deal with any Quark files that come in that are newer than version 4.11. That's OUR workaround--to convert the file to InDesign and deal with it there. And this workaround, even with imperfect conversions sometimes, succeeds better than using any new version of Quark with its own predictable, testy behavior.

Quark has gotten our last dollar. Good riddance!

5:29 PM

 
Anonymous skyline said...

Anonymous,

Quark needs all those XTs because it is an incomplete application.

InDesign's plug-ins are truly optional, and there are more offered all the time (Quark's takeover of ALAP notwithstanding).

Quark 7 -- if it can function without constantly crashing -- will bring Quark up to a par with InDesign 2. Considering ID is up to version 4 now, why would anyone rave about Quark 7?

5:36 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HELLOOOOOO!!

If you think InDesign is without its problems, just take a look at the ID forums on the web. Yes it has lots of nice bells and whistles, likely many of which most users will never use.

As for the marriage being over for Cranky... a couple of thoughts. After all the years of your relationship and you still can't spell the name correctly! It's QuarkXPress. I fail to see why so many can't get that. Also, I would assume that you use the program to generate money. Perhaps you should offer to give 1/2 of it back to Quark. Afterall, fair is fair is it not. I myself am just a part-time freelancer. I have used QuarkXPress since version 2. My total investment has been maybe $2500 in this software with upgrades and what have you. Even part time I have made better than $100,000 with it. They could quit and leave me high and dry today and they wouldn't owe me anything. Quite frankly, there will always be those that are unhappy, no matter what they are offered. Why not go back to the old pasteup days and type galleys? No crashes or corrupt files in those days... just lots of time. So it has its problems, we can't all be perfect and neither is InDesign. I suspect that you will get pissed off more than once with them too! Goodbye, Farewell, Amen!

9:48 PM

 
Blogger Cranky said...

That is a moronic comment. I think you are the second person to scold me for putting a space between Quark and Xpress. Well excuuuuuse me!!! That's not a spelling mistake. That's failing to follow Quark's branding guidelines. What are you the fucking branding police. You'd probably go into a tizzy if I spelled Adidas with a capital A too.

I've made a hell of a lot more than $100,000 with Quark. And now I'll make a hell of a lot more with InDesign.

10:01 PM

 
Blogger Morgan said...

Cranky and company...

I can't say I've had the problems listed in this great litany to Quark, but I'm one guy and one opinion. Good on all of you for "airing it out." Here's my take on the issue if anyone cares...

http://everydaydissidence.blogspot.com/2006/03/i-choose-quark.html

12:42 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find when I have a problem with Quark, I typically can start with the basics and work my way to the known issue or workaround.
http://www.quark.com/service/desktop/support/techinfo/view.jsp?faq_id=304

Other things in life are not quite so easy to diagnose.

Software is buggy yes and as designers, we're unfortunately forced to become part-time programmers or tech support. The good news (if you're really good or very lucky or both) is you can hire people to do the dirty work for you!

all the best

1:02 PM

 
Blogger Cranky said...

Sure there are some things I like how Quark does better than InDesign, mainly because I am used to its ways, but after several month's of using InDesign, it had hardly ever crashed, and certainly never destroyed a file. I am having to use Quark now to do a catalog job that a client is forcing me to do in Quark. Lost 3 hours of work yesterday because it was absolutely refusing to make a PDF of a file. And just now it corrupted an entire file, along with all 3 backup versions, and I lost a whole mornings work. I Fucking HATE this program. If I could bill back to Quark all the hours I have lost due to their bullshit software, they would owe me thousands.

10:59 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It WOULD take a liberal to make an entire blog about "things that suck". haha

1:35 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've Used Quark since 1993. All the negatives listed above are unfortunately true. Truest of all: The have to be the most incomprehensibly nasty software company on the planet. They truly loathe their customers and make it almost comical to upgrade and support Xpress and take their sweet time developing updates that will supposedly work on current platforms, never do, and cost a fortune. As all my clients now print in China, the level of pain and wasted (and usually unbillable) man hours troubleshooting crappy software is painfully horrible.

10:29 AM

 

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