Quark's taking a leaf from Apple's book and using open standards in QuarkXPress 7.

The company promises the next-generation of its desktop publishing application will offer: "More design features with job-driven workflow capabilities and multi-channel publishing" features. The aim is to, "transform the business of creative communications", the company said.

The company revealed itself to be a member of the Ghent PDF Workgroup (GWG); the International Cooperation for the Integration of Processes in Prepress, Press and Postpress, International Color Consortium (CIP4); the Networked Graphic Production (NGP) initiative; and the Print On Demand Initiative (PODi).

Powerful creative tools

XPress 7 features will include transparency controls, built-in image use and editing tools, and colour management; OpenType and Unicode support. Font features include an easy way to insert special characters without looking up keyboard commands.

The application will let users specify the opacity of the pixels that make up any items or content in QuarkXPress - text, pictures, blends, boxes, frames, lines, tables, and more. QuarkXPress 7 will be able to manage opacity levels for any colour rather than on an object-by-object basis.

The transparency features extend the capacity to create automatic feathered drop shadows and alpha channels for masking pictures.

New colour management controls include on-screen simulations for soft proofing. A user can preview how RGB prints to CMYK on-screen or how CMYK prints in grayscale. The company hopes to encourage colour management with such tools.

Workflow management

Workflow automation features will let users "define job parameters that provide centralized control and streamline design, layout, and production processes", the company said.

Support for Job Definition Files also features in this release, making it easier to create work and to send final results to print. The use of 'Job Jackets' within XPress will help users specify parameters for design, content, production and output.

Changes in project specifications can be made to the job jacket and will be automatically updated to all projects that use that resource. Job are compatible with JDF elements; they can be mapped to JDF elements and vice versa.

Built-in preflighting

QuarkXPress 7 will also offer comprehensive rule-based preflighting features, checking fonts, colours, images, and more elements to ensure production can go ahead.

Creatives will be able to publish multiple print and Web layouts, quickly and reliably, from the same content. Users will be able to create multiple document types, sizes, and media and reuse any content, image or design element; streamline development processes through open standards; and more.

Support for output in Personalized Print Markup Language (PPML) adds the features of database publishing to the application. In PPML, all the static content, multiple instances of same static content, synchronized content, and master page elements will be recognized as reusable objects and saved in the memory.

XML project files

Quark has also opened the QuarkXPress file format by creating QuarkXPress Markup Language (QXML), a DOM schema for QuarkXPress projects. The structure of the QuarkXPress project is defined according to DOM so that developers can easily access, update, and create QuarkXPress project elements.

DOM exports the QuarkXPress project as XML, which allows any application that understands the schema of a QuarkXPress project to access the QuarkXPress data and process it. The application that accesses the QuarkXPress schema can be running on any platform and using any language. In brief, it is a live representation of QuarkXPress projects as XML.