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Cross-Media in QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign --McIlroy

February 2004
Last summer I wrote a column for Printing Impressions called "Whatever Happened to Cross-Media Publishing?" In it I explored the 10-year history of the concept of cross-media publishing (sometimes called "media-independent publishing"). It sure sounded great in the early '90s: a single publishing system, a unified publishing workflow, encompassing both print and electronic (mostly online) media. But, I noted, "the majority of what we find in print today does not appear on the Web; and very little of what's on the Web ever makes it to print."

Trying to figure out why the cross-media dream had not been realized I noted that what works best on the Web is very different from what works in print. We're slowly learning to appreciate what makes the Web unique as a communications medium.

It's difficult to create similar designs that work equally well both in print and on the Web, and it's equally difficult to write effectively for both media. I concluded that "we were wrong to think that the twain should meet."

Looking at the Big Boys

In this column I want to look at how the two largest software vendors in our industry, Adobe Systems and Quark Inc., tackle the challenge of cross-media publishing. Their approaches are very different.

First a confession. I have, in the past, consulted to both companies, and the discussion often turned to the subject of cross-media publishing. As I pointed out in my last column, in the mid- to late-1990s I was very much in favor of cross-media and advocated it not only to my clients, but also publicly via Seybold Seminars. I could say now that I was wrong. But I think it's a little more nuanced than that. We didn't have all the information then that we have now. If we did, I think we would have seen the situation more clearly. But first a look at these two competing vendors.

Quark has long been committed to offering tools for electronic media, both directly through its flagship product, QuarkXPress, as well as through secondary products, such as QuarkImmedia (since discontinued). Most of the Web publishing software functionality offered by Quark is now made available directly through QuarkXPress.

The latest version, 6.0, has extensive tools for cross-media publishing. Users can convert print-based designs to Web-based designs or vice versa, within a single file. QuarkXPress 6.0 introduced the concept of "project files" that contain multiple layout spaces, enabling users to design projects around "multiple media publishing possibilities." Each design would ordinarily differ, but the text can be synchronized for both.

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