Quark has released QuarkXPress 6.1, an extensive software update for its DTP application.

Speaking to Macworld UK at MacExpo in November 2003, Quark had indicated that this update would be made available in December. Evidently the corporate reshuffle has hampered the claimed 1,000-strong development team in creating the update.

QuarkXPress 6.1 offers a series of performance enhancements including support for Mac OS X 10.3. The update is available to registered customers at no charge.

New features include: better integration with Excel – the updated application now lets users import text, picture and chart data directly into XPress from an Excel workbook. The application will also import an entire spreadsheet or range of cells while "respecting hyperlink data contained in the spreadsheet".

The update does deliver a Mac-only feature: "Mac OS users will benefit from the Edit Original XTensions module, which gives users the ability to select a picture, then open and edit it in the user's preferred image-editing application. Edit Original is available for Mac OS only," the company said.

With 6.1 installed users are able to create and manage rules that govern automatic font substitution with a new font mapping feature. This means users can import and export font substitution rules, so such rules can be shared between multiple users and workgroups. THey can be applied to QuarkXPress projects and templates as well as legacy documents and templates.

A new framework that lets users add spell-checking and hyphenation support for supplemental languages is also included in the Passport version of the update.

QuarkXPress 6.1 requires Mac OS X 10.2 or later. It's available free to registered users, and is also available on CD (call 00800 1787 8275).