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Hamilton--The Graphic Arts Needs Adobe and Quark

May 1999
Well, now I know I've made it: Starting with this issue, Attila the Editor has granted me Columnist Status. That way I get a page—or less—to rant and rave about topics of interest to prepress professionals every month. So what if it ticks off the key advertisers . . .

Having recently attended the Seybold Conference in Boston—thankfully the show has been moved out of New York—I would like to muse about those behemoths of our industry, Adobe and Quark, and what might happen to those of us that rely on their software to earn our daily bread.

Thanks to the "keynote addresses" granted to John Warnock, Chuck Geschke and Tim Gill so that they could pitch their latest and greatest products, it's become clear that these firms are like a couple in a bad marriage: They don't get along very well, but they have to live together.

Of course, it was impossible to avoid the Adobe onslaught in Boston. The company officially announced InDesign, its "Quark-killer" page layout application, as well as the next version of Acrobat (4.0), which generates PDF 1.3 files. Interestingly enough, Adobe has so much respect for Quark's dominance in the page layout arena that the demo assumed you would import XPress documents into InDesign and then start working. And there was good news for those who have been hoping to rid themselves of Page-Maker—sometimes dubbed "RageMaker"—as this pioneer program will henceforth be targeted at the SOHO/business communications marketplace.

InDesign seems to have a plethora of tools for the creative professional. However, production folks will welcome the way it is integrated with two other staples of every prepress operation. When you click on either an image or graphic, InDesign automatically launches Photoshop or Illustrator, respectively, to expedite the revision process. And this application relies on PDF for its native file format. With the just-released Apple OS/X also reading/writing PDF at the system level, this ability could be an important element, since it will eliminate the whole issue of who makes the PDF.

Which brings me to Acrobat 4.0 and PDF 1.3. First, I will confess that I do believe PDF will replace PostScript as the de facto standard for file exchange and processing. However, I don't think it will happen as quickly as the folks from San Jose might like. Human beings are creatures of habit, and the current workflow, in which you take in XPress, Illustrator/FreeHand and Photoshop files and then make the PostScript, is proven and well-understood by many people. Given the extensive changes and revisions that virtually every file goes through prior to printing, it will be a while before the tools and skill sets required for a PDF workflow enjoy the same comfort level among prepress professionals.
 

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