In last week’s edition of The Low End Designer, we took a quick detour from hardware to look at the issue of Quark XPress. This week we’re focusing on software, and Quark will once again rear its head.
Publisher’s note: This article is from 2004. OS and software versions have changed significantly since then.
In fact, it will do so right now. As stated last week, Quark 6 is a Mac OS X only application. Quark is the king of layout applications. PageMaker was a valiant challenger, but alas it’s days are numbered. InDesign is finally stepping up as a serious competitor, but Quark is still in charge.
“So what?” you ask. Well, unless you’re planning on having your own in-house high-end printing operation, you need to output your files after you’ve made them, and everyone else is using Quark, so you’ll have less problems if you do, too. Of course, PDFs are so ubiquitous these days that you can get away without Quark – in fact, this is what Adobe’s entire strategy with InDesign hinges on – but despite Adobe’s television commercial, PDFs can be tricky.
If you’re not willing to plonk down the better part of a thousand dollars on a copy of Quark XPress 6, then an earlier version obtained on eBay could be a perfect fit. Quark 5 and Quark 4 are little different from version 6 – the main change being OS X compatibility and some (largely useless, it must be said) web design functions.
Running any application in Classic Mode on OS X is far from ideal, but sometimes it has to be done. Let’s ignore the theology of being an OS dualist and just deal with the facts. Both Quark XPress 4 and Quark XPress 5 work under Classic; in fact, they work very well. The only major problems are:
- As with all Classic apps, you don’t get access to the big benefits of Mac OS X, notably protected memory. A crash will often bring down the entire Classic environment, and, yes, Quark will crash. A lot. Hell, version 6 crashes with alarming regularity in Mac OS X native mode!
- Images don’t always update properly on screen. This can be a nuisance, but one workaround is to dismiss the window into the Dock. Bring it back, and presto, your images are updated. Strange but true.
If these problems are too much for you, you can either upgrade to Quark 6 – but it’ll cost you – or take the low-end route and run Quark under OS 9.
Maybe you just don’t want to run Quark at all, or you want to use OS X and don’t fancy the price tag. In either case, you’re looking at Adobe InDesign.
Compared to Quark, InDesign is sloooow. Slow as a two-stroke motorcycle on the autobahn. Adobe’s rather predictable answer is to get a faster Mac. Fair enough, but not ideal for us.
If you’ve bought Adobe Creative Suite (see below), InDesign is included in the bundle, and in this case I would advise not bothering with Quark. InDesign is a complex program and will take a while to learn, but the time invested will be worth it, as the application is adept at handling high-spec layouts. One word of warning is to avoid version 1.0. Adobe rushed out version 1.5 not long after the launch, and the improvements are tangible.
In a few weeks time we’ll be looking at somewhat more obscure alternatives to Quark and InDesign. Stay tuned.
Maintain Your Image
Quark and InDesign handle the layout work, but that still leaves you with images. As far as image production goes, there are two methods to be aware of – vector and bitmap.
Vector graphics are a form of geometric modeling; that is to say, the graphics seen on screen are described by the use of geometrical primitives such as points, lines, curves, and polygons. Bitmap (or raster) graphics are images composed of collections of pixels. Both forms are essential, but this week we’re concentrating exclusively on bitmap graphics – and the preeminent bitmap editor is Adobe Photoshop.
Photoshop. Alongside Quark, this application has long been the key to graphic design. Photoshop was originally developed on the Mac (of course) back in 1987 by Thomas and John Knoll, and since then it has become so well known that it has spawned its own neologism: “photoshopping” has come to mean “editing an image,” regardless of which program is actually used.
Photoshop is a complex beast; it would be entirely possible to spend an entire career working in Photoshop without fully exploring its possibilities. It is, of course, possible to do without any individual application, and you may find yourself forced to do so, but if have to drop one program from your arsenal, don’t make it Photoshop. It is just too useful, too powerful, and too ubiquitous to ignore. Photoshop is an essential tool for creating new images from scratch, working with scans, touching up photographs, creating special graphic elements for your layouts, and a lot more.
When you’re ready to buy a copy of Photoshop, buy the latest version that will run on your hardware – unlike other programs (say Quark for instance), Adobe has added useful features with every release. Version 3 saw the introduction of layers, which allow for composite images to be produced with ease; version 4 saw the layer technology extended; version 5 saw better text handling; version 7 added Mac OS X support; and so on. At a pinch, version 3 is reasonably modern, but try to get at least version 5 if it will run on your system.
Bundles of Joy
Software companies love to make suites of software – think of AppleWorks, for example. However, most suites are not really integrated apps like Apple’s productivity package; most, like Microsoft Office, are just collections of vaguely related programs. Adobe Creative Suite falls into this category, and it does offer great value. The Pro Edition includes Acrobat, Photoshop, ImageReady, Illustrator, InDesign, and GoLive, thus covering all essential areas of graphic design and production. If you can afford to purchase this suite, you won’t go far wrong.
Gimme, Gimme, Gimme
Pirate software or “warez” is bad. Don’t do it, kids. Yes, the big boys of the software world can probably stand to lose a few quid, and, yes, their products are overpriced, but that still does not justify pirating software.
I am not going to lecture anyone about ethics – let’s just look at the practical problems of pirated software. Pirate copies of software obtained from file sharing networks are often incomplete or corrupted and could potentially contain viruses and other malware.
More important still, it is against the law, and companies like Quark and Adobe take piracy very seriously. Not unlike the RIAA, software companies have been known to take legal action against pirates. Some of you (no pointing) may have possessed a pirate copy of an Amiga or Atari ST game back in the 1980s, and the sky didn’t fall; well, be warned, the stakes are a lot higher these days: “Owning” a pirate copy of Photoshop is not like having a dodgy copy of Buggy Boy!
How do you get your software then? Well, there are several options. Obviously, you can pay top dollar for them. The only circumstances in which I’d advise this are of you are buying the Adobe Creative Suite Professional Edition as it is, quite literally, all you need software-wise to run a studio: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, ImageReady, Acrobat, and GoLive – quite a package! Even then, if you shop around you should be able to chop a few dollars off the price.
All around this article on Low End Mac there are bargains to be had – Low End Mac’s advertisers know that the site’s readers are budget conscious, and that’s just who they are targeting.
Also, if you’re a student or teacher at an educational institute, even if it’s only a small community group, you may qualify for an educational discount. You my not get the printed manuals, but usually the only difference between the educational and standard versions is a message on the splash screen. As always, check the license before buying.
Then there’s eBay. For really old software, such as Quark 3.3 or Photoshop 5, eBay is hard to beat. Many a bargain is to be had, but all of the usual caveats to online auctions apply, and you may find the “Buy it Now” function useful if, like me, auctions wreak havoc on your nerves!
A random check while writing this article revealed several vendors selling Photoshop 7, which works in both OS 9 and OS X, for a very reasonable $300. Older versions can be had for much less.
Next week we’ll take a look at peripherals, old and new, from scanners to printers and back again. In the coming weeks we’ll also be looking at web design applications, Wintel PCs, and alternatives to the software biggies in the design world – and we’ll be putting all of this into practice and creating our own low-end design studio. Your patience will be rewarded with practical information.
Author’s note: Due to an accident with a cabaret singer and a credit card, I have lost the domain which hosted my email address until recently. Anyone who emailed me after reading the first Low End Designer article, please be aware that I am not ignoring you, I simply didn’t get the mail. My new address is email@example.com and your questions and comments are most welcome.
Quark vs. InDesign
Articles are fine, but there’s nothing like a blog for finding out what people really think. Here’s a selection of bloggers talking about Quark Vs. Indy:
Low End Designer Mailbag
From Martin Hunter:
I’ve been reading the Low End Designer and am enjoying it but was wondering when you’re going to get to practical information?
- Hi Martin,
- The next edition deals with buying peripherals and as such is the final introduction. After that we’ll be getting down to actual work.J
From Peter da Silva:
The Beige G3 should be in the running.
While you can get a B&W for a couple of hundred, you can get a Beige for well under a hundred, and it’ll handle pretty much any CPU you can put in a B&W. The only downside to the Beige is the 66 MHz system bus, two-thirds the speed of the iMac and B&W, but the price difference is pretty compelling: You can spend the extra $150 or so on a G4/533 processor from Old World Computing and smoke the B&W and its G3/300.
Compared to the pre-G3 boxes, it’s not even a contest. The Beige G3 costs about the same as a good pre-G3, and the bus has the same edge over the Powersurge machines as the B&W has over it. And they’re even cheaper to upgrade with faster processors.
All respect due to Sonnet, but right now anything less than a Beige G3 is just not worth spending money on unless you already have it or you’re getting it pretty much for free. And that goes double for the NuBus Power Macs or the 68000-based boxes, even the top of the line 68000s like the 840AV, which can outperform the first generation Power Macs in some areas.
There’s one exception. The 68000-based laptops are cheap enough that they still have an edge on price. But only the laptops still have this edge: When you can get a 7500 for under $30 including postage, and a G3 for $50-$60, there’s no point in settling for anything less.
- Thanks for the email Peter.
- I agree that the Beige G3 is excellent value, but I think that the advantages of the B&W, plus their relatively low price just nudge the Beige out. As for the pre-G3s, if I was planning to only run OS 9, I think I’d probably go for a 9600 before a G3. Of course, vs. the B&W, the Beige G3 has useful legacy ports and can run OS 9; so oftentimes it’s a case of heads or tails.
- A word count is a word count, and something had to be cut – the Beige G3 bit the dust. I do agree, though, I’d take a G3 over a 7500 any day.
- Personally, I’m not overly fussed on processor upgrades, but I suppose it’s a matter of personal choice.
- All the best.
From Peter Durfee:
I’m reading http://www.lowendmac.com/2004/which-macs-make-the-most-sense-and-why-you-want-os-9/ right now. Interesting piece. But you really, really need to get in there and replace “wither” with “whither.” (The mistake is on the LEM front page, too, thanks to its inclusion in the title of another article linked there.)
- I’ve taken a look at the LEM front page and, indeed, “wither” is used incorrectly: “Opinion: Wither art thou, low end Mac?, Alex Kayhill, Mac 360, 07.23. “How does the eMac compete for $799.” I’m not the editor of Low End Mac, so I can’t speak for it, but the article in question is an off-site link and outside of the responsibility of Low End Mac.
- With regard to style issues in general, my own work is written, as far as possible, to the standards of the Guardian Style Guide (which is available on-line at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/styleguide/0,5817,184913,00.html), and, of course, Fowler’s Modern English Usage. [Low End Mac’s style guide is fairly sparse but covers a lot of technical issues. ed]On the point of language generally, obviously, I have had to Americanise the spelling for a North American audience, but as I am a European and, in fact, live in Europe, Americanese does not come naturally to me, and the odd (traditional- or international-) English spelling or grammar may slip in, such as “Americanise” (or indeed, “Americanese”), for example. An American audience may well find my writing to be rather laced with nested assertions, parenthetical comments, and curious punctuation, but I assure you, it is legitimate English.
- Again, with regard to my use of the word “wither” in the subhead “Wither OS 9”, it is a joke, referring to the desiccated future of the classic Mac OS – “Wither on the vine”, etc. You’ll find my writing is full of linguistic and semantic jokes. Just think of them as ticks.
- All the best,
Keywords: #lowenddesigner #quarkxpress #indesign #photoshop #softwaresuites
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