QuarkXPress 2024 for Mac and Windows brings a slew of new features to improve productivity and inspire great design, along with an export option that may just change everything.
GREP for Advanced Text Find and Replace
If you’re one of the people who has been asking for GREP, it’s now here. This is fully implemented in the find and replace dialogue.
If you don’t know GREP, it stands for Global Regular Expressions Search and Print. It’s a highly useful but rather technical way to search and replace with extreme precision across very long documents.
For example, supposing you want to want to replace one or more digits when they occur at the beginning of a paragraph when followed by punctuation. That’s actually a very easy job in GREP.
QuarkXPress offers you dropdowns with common components to make it easier to work with, but if you want to do anything complex you should invest some time in working through examples. There are many GREP cheat sheets and tutorials on the web, as it was originally part of the UNIX environment.
Local Image Library Support
The stock images panel has now been upgraded to allow you to make local libraries. This is significant.
Almost anyone who has a large image library will have some kind of Digital Assets Manager (DAM), such as NeoFinder or DigiKam. However, if a client sent you a folder full of images, you don’t necessarily want to import them into your DAM.
Creating a quick local image folder allows you to treat your local or network images in the same way as the Pexels and Unsplash images that are already available.
How fast is it? A couple of seconds on a network drive for 100 images. I have one library with 35,000. It took five minutes to create.
New Picture Links Palette
Additionally, there’s a new picture links palette. As well as giving you information about status and location, it updates you on effective PPI, colour space, and, with the additional information dialog open, colour depth, scale, size, type, path, profile and modification date.
New Visual Fonts Palette and Google Fonts
The new visual font palette in QuarkXPress 2024 is a natural development of QuarkXPress’ own philosophy, and partly a recognition that Google Fonts have moved well into the enterprise category and are increasingly used in branding. Although, more importantly, QuarkXPress is one of the first to use built-in PANOSE information to enable intelligent font matching.
The font palette, on first inspection, looks like it’s just a visual font manager as available in many other applications but it does have a lot more on offer.
First, filtering by language enables the designer to know beforehand what fonts are going to work across a multilingual project. Anyone who has ever worked with multilingual projects will appreciate this.
It can also filter by serif, sans-serif, symbol, decoration, colour or other. This is generally useful, but it comes into its own when you start to additionally filter by weight, width, x-height and contrast.
By maintaining x-height and width, the designer can generally be sure that pairing a serif with a sans-serif is going to work. Contrast also helps the designer to rapidly find the weights which differ enough to avoid a clash.
QuarkXPress solution relies not on guesses made by an algorithm, but on information programmed by the font designer.
If that wasn’t enough, you can now download Google fonts on the fly – a recognition that many clients are now working primarily with Google as they integrate web with print.
Import and Export have been upgraded. However, what is huge in QuarkXPress 2024 is that you can now export IDML. IDML is an interchange format designed originally for InDesign, but now adopted as a semi-standard interchange format for Desktop Publishing.
Not only can you save for InDesign and Affinity users, and for webservices that require IDML, you can also save for earlier versions of QuarkXPress that read IDML.
IDML saves at the level of ‘things common to everyone’. So, for example, if you are saving something with text shading, the text itself will come across, but, since applications don’t support text shading to the same extent, the shading itself disappears.
Using IDML gives you maximum data integrity and structural compatibility. Your style sheets will come across, but they may not look the same, for example because of the recipient not having the same fonts installed. If you want to maintain the exact look of a document, export as PDF instead. Earlier versions of QuarkXPress back to 2016 can import this, though few other packages can.
It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into adding features useful to designers, editors, layout artists and typographers. The deep integration with QuarkXPress’ existing features strengthens the overall argument that QuarkXPress is for professionals.