Cross-Media in QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign –McIlroy

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.

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