One of the joys of using QuarkXPress was that it was rarely upgraded, keeping costs down and keyboard shortcuts familiar. Unfortunately, when it was upgraded from version 3.2 to 4.0 there were more bugs than even Phil Tuffnell could swallow. Version 5 followed many years later. Amazingly, Quark showed how far away the planet it was living on was by not making XPress 5 OS X native and not allowing it to create PDFs. Now, we're promised an OS X-native, PDF-creating XPress 6 "sometime this year", but for many of us its failings - such as the ridiculously massive Tabs palette window -are still too many to fork out the thousands it will cost to upgrade our studios.
Luckily, Adobe's InDesign 2 wipes the floor with XPress, and will be significantly cheaper to upgrade to. One of the main concerns holding back publishers is re-training all their layout staff and designers. Learning InDesign isn't difficult if you're already familiar with other Adobe apps such as Photoshop and Illustrator - and it isn't a million picas away from the way XPress works.
But as the major application in any artworker or designer's toolbox, knowing the DTP program inside out is essential. InDesign doesn't come with any tutorials, with Adobe instead keen to sell you its excellent Classroom in a Book training. For £33.99, you get a book of 14 lessons with supporting CD. Dolling out a copy to all your staff is a cheap way to start the training process. ISBN: 0-201-78720-2.
InDesign for QuarkXPress Users - co-written by Macworld's David Blatner - takes a more practical look from the point of view of an XPress switcher (HHHH/8.0). There's no CD of tutorial materials, but the text and graphics are clear and easily understandable. ISBN: 0-321-15948-9.
The best training you can get is one-on-one from a real-life tutor, but this is prohibitively expensive - probably costing around £400 a day. Larger groups are cheaper, but you get less time for questions and general hand-holding.
An alternative is your very own InDesign expert and DTP guru taking you through the basics to more advanced techniques - which is exactly what you get from Total Training.
Over four DVDs, another Macworld contributing editor Deke McClelland gives you six and a half hours of in-depth training. Deke's style is laid-back and friendly, but right on the money when it comes to what DTPers need to know to get started with InDesign. Simply fire up InDesign, and work alongside Deke. The pause and rewind buttons on DVD Player are essential here - so plan to spend a lot longer than the six hours going over what you're being taught.
Books can get boring when wading through new practices. Hearing Deke explain why a technique should be followed, and seeing him act this out on a real-world example is as good as having your own tutor sitting next to you. You can divide the lessons over however many days you can spare, and go over them again and again. And you can then pass the DVDs to your colleagues. Compared to real-life tutorage, this is remarkable value for money.
Probably the best training you could give yourself is Total Training's DVDs followed by a later real-life tutor session when you've got to grips with the software but have a bunch of questions that need direct answers. And it's always handy to have a book nearby when you're actually working. InDesign for QuarkXPress Users fits the bill nicely.