Quark executives yesterday took seminar attendees through a whistle-stop tour of QuarkXPress 5 at the UK's publishing-industry showcase, Total Publishing.

The company is also creating an OS X version of the application, Quark's senior product manager for desktop products, Brett Mueller, revealed. Mueller also promised that XPress 5 would be as "bug-free" as possible.

He went on to outline how XPress 5 fits into the company's big-picture strategy: "Quark's vision is one of publishing: to print, Web, PDAs, mobile phones, and beyond."

Quark's updated industry-standard DTP application offers more functionality. A major new feature is Layers, bringing XPress into line with most other leading graphics and layout applications.

Web feat XPress 5 is also far more Web-savvy, with a new Placeholders menus allowing Web pages developed in 5 to accept XML (Extensible Markup Language) data in single-click, drag-&-drop fashion. When a page is Saved for Web, XPress 5 automatically transforms TIFFs into JPEGs or GIFs.

Another powerful XPress 5 Web feature is its ability to create rollovers and attach hyperlinks, and it also now supports SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) and AppleScript.

Existing features have also been improved. Collect for Output now collects colour profiles, and screen and printer fonts, not just images. The Save As feature also gives users the option to assign colour profiles, document-bleed settings, and document types.

Mueller would not be drawn on a release date for the product, which is currently at the alpha-testing phase, and about to enter beta testing. However, he did confirm that development has begun on an OS X version of the DTP application.

Bugs strife "When we shipped XPress 4 there were still a number of outstanding faults. XPress 5 will not be buggy." Quark will release 5 when "beta testers tell us the application is ready", Mueller said

He added: "Print design can push the Web, and we are developing the tools to prove that. With QuarkXPress 5 you'll be able to create a Web page in a full object-orientated design environment. The same application you design for print will design for the Web.

"Almost anything you can do in a text cell anywhere in XPress 5 you can also do for the Web. You can apply style sheets to different cells," Mueller explained. "The final version will also export text and graphics to a Flash file."

He also revealed that Quark is working on an Import module, to allow the importation of Excel documents. "It's still in development and will be released later," he said.

Mueller continued: "If you don't already know the Web, all you'll need is XPress 5. You won't need to know how to code. The future of publishing is media independence."

Tooled up He concluded by saying: "As a tools vendor, we must provide tools you can examine both under the hood, but that also allow you to concentrate on your main concern: publishing.

"We want to give you a tool that lets you create, update and republish content any way you want. Content management is going to be crucial in publishing's future."

Quark president and CEO Fred Ebrahimi did not make an appearance at the show, despite earlier reports to the contrary.

At the show, Quark also announced a 30 per cent UK discount on XPress 4.1.