In September 2017, Quark released a new collection of digital publishing features and enhancements for App Studio. App Studio is the digital publishing solution that allows users to create branded content apps using QuarkXPress, InDesign, HTML5, and XML. Unlike other digital publishing and custom app solutions, App Studio is cost effective and does not require coding.
The new features in App Studio make it easier for designers and creative professionals to deliver modern, interactive apps to consumers across a range of digital and mobile devices. Not only does App Studio support the latest iOS and Android platforms, the new release allows designers to create app-like experiences that run in any modern Web browser.
Learn more about these features and more at Quark.com.
Thirty years ago today Quark debuted the first version of QuarkXPress – and the world of page layout changed forever. The new software replaced manual layout processes with WYSIWYG postscript that launched a new era of desktop publishing. The ensuing years have brought even more innovative thinking and engineering to QuarkXPress to help designers bring their creative visions to life.
A History of Firsts
Desktop publishing, which was sparked a year or so earlier by Aldus PageMaker for Apple’s Macintosh, evolved dramatically in 1987. By then designers were looking for an easy way to design with precision and quality. One month after Illustrator launched, QuarkXPress was released on two 400kb floppy disks – one contained the application and had space for documents, the second ran the dictionary for spell checking. One year later in 1988 the first version of Photoshop was released.
From the beginning Quark made it a priority to listen to designers and their needs. This is exemplified by a few of the firsts QuarkXPress introduced, some even unmatched today:
This was just the beginning. Quark continued to innovate: First to offer free floating palettes, first to offer an editorial system (with Quark Publishing System), first to offer optical margin alignments that can be adjusted by designers, first to offer vector editing inside a page layout application, first to understand multi-channel publishing and integrate digital authoring and design capabilities into page layout, first to allow Photoshop layers to be controlled within a layout, first to offer a Universal Binary Layout application on MacOS, first to offer Composition Zones and Job Jackets (JDF), first to offer platform-independent licensing, and so on.
Dedication to Customers
However, the success of QuarkXPress was not without its fumbles. In the 1990s Quark launched marketing and collaboration solutions for multiple industries and left some customers feeling we had lost our focus on desktop publishing and our customers. In the mid-to-late 2000s this changed: Quark put a laser focus on updating QuarkXPress, laying the foundation for a more modern application that could better meet customers’ specific needs and requirements. In recent years this has enabled Quark to regularly poll its customers on new features that are most important to them, fueling the development of QuarkXPress 2015 and the new 20xx series. Since then Quark has released a new version every year, offering features that customers ask for and offering game-changing innovations.
A few examples where recent versions of QuarkXPress innovate:
Customer feedback and reviews from industry experts confirm that nowadays QuarkXPress has returned to its roots as a modern, fast and innovate layout application for print and digital. And maybe more importantly, customers are happy about Quark listening to customers, interacting with its user base and innovating with large new benefits every year.
And maybe needless to say, as the market seems to ask for perpetual licenses for desktop publishing, QuarkXPress is sold as a life-time license and not a rental model.
Join the conversation or wish QuarkXPress a happy birthday! Check out: QuarkXPress on Facebook, join the QuarkXPress Master Group on Facebook, or follow QuarkXPress on Twitter. Learn more about the most recent release: QuarkXPress 2017.
Financial reporting often includes many repetitive tasks that can eat away at resources, and when copy/paste is involved, there’s a chance for error that could make or break your business. This is why financial firms are turning to Quark to help automate their content processes. In this digital age, speed to market is critical. Your customers depend on having the latest information at their fingertips.
Quark has partnered with EFA, whose market-leading EFA Platform provides financial models essential for investment research analysis. Together, Quark Publishing Platform and EFA Platform provide a powerful Investment Research Reporting Solution for managing the content lifecycle of investment research, reporting, and analysis.
The Quark Investment Research Reporting Solution includes a wizard that allows users to select several options, including the type of report being created, the subject of the report, and preferences such as whether financial data should be presented in units of millions or billions of dollars. Once these options have been selected, Quark Publishing Platform contacts the EFA Platform for the latest data and, using that data, creates the requested report with tables and graphs that are common to all reports of the specified type. The report’s author can then add additional tables and charts (again pulled from EFA Platform), write new content, preview how the report will look when published, and share the report with team members.
To benefit from Quark’s Content Automation tools in your financial document lifecycle, ask Quark’s expert a question or request a meeting with our team.
Autumn Cuellar is a Technical Services Consultant for the Quark content automation team. Her first degree is in Biomedical Engineering, which led to a role as a researcher at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. There Autumn co-authored a metadata specification, explored the use of ontologies for advancing biological research, and developed CellML, an XML language for describing biological models. Since leaving the academic world, Autumn has been delighted to share her enthusiasm for XML in technical and enterprise applications. At Quark, Autumn provides her XML expertise to organizations seeking to hide the XML for a better non-technical user experience.
Let’s start with a question: Have you been in a conversation lately about the digital transformation of training materials? Probably not. But, hey, maybe. Either way, the idea of digitized content most certainly is a topic we all care about so let me use one of our recent projects to stoke some conversation and make a few points along the way.
Our client, American Prison Data Systems (APDS), came to us with a goal that was clear and to the point: Digitize their correctional officer training materials. The project’s objective might have been fairly common but the fact that it was within the corrections industry was unprecedented. Training materials have generally been available only in print form, which only slowed or blocked altogether any progress or innovation in this area.
APDS Founder and CEO, Chris Grewe, summed it up best: “Traditionally, the corrections industry has been almost uniformly print-based when it comes to training. The NYC DOC Academy trainees used to carry around large, heavy binders, which were cumbersome, difficult to update, and rather insecure.”
The digital transformation of their training materials ultimately went a long way to pushing their training program into the modern era. It cut the time-consuming and costly process of printing, handing out, and tracking training materials. It allowed administrators to monitor recruit engagement and learning via APDS’ proprietary Learning Management System (LMS), through which the digital content is delivered. The LMS provides data in near real-time and seamlessly integrates multimedia content, such as video, into the training material. Here are some results:
The benefits of digitizing this client’s training materials are fairly obvious. But this project speaks to the broader topic of how moving from print to digital can help any organization manage and optimize their content. Moving to digital is a smart, tactical business decision and is integral to content automation. Once in a digital format, ideally in a structured format such as XML, the content can be easily and effectively managed, accessed, and updated through a dedicated content automation platform.
Tom C. Smith is Director of Marketing for Data Conversion Laboratory, Inc. (DCL). DCL uses its advanced technology, XML expertise, and U.S.-based project management teams to help solve the most complex conversion and data mining challenges securely, accurately, and on time.
What if you spent all kinds of time and money delivering PDF content and nobody reads it?
Organizations spend millions of dollars on content-related technologies. According to InfoTrends research published earlier this year, organizations spend $801k on average, and that number is likely to increase by 7 to 13%, depending on the industry vertical. That number doesn’t factor in all the costs related to managing and delivering content.
For years, PDF has been a de facto delivery format for a great many organizations, especially those seeking to offload printing costs by making PDFs available for online consumption. But what if truly valuable content, such as leading edge industrial sector research or solutions to global crises, is never found or read by its intended audience?
The truth is, critical information and research locked inside PDF files is not reaching its maximum potential audience.
In a 2014 article titled “The solutions to all our problems may be buried in PDFs nobody reads,” Washington Post writer Christopher Ingraham explores a World Bank study conducted during that same year. The study investigated the World Bank’s web traffic and found that almost one third of policy reports the organization delivered as PDF were never downloaded and that almost 87% of reports were never cited. While the reports may have seen distribution via secondary distribution channels such as email and print, these numbers are a concern.
These unfortunate outcomes may echo the repeated usability problems associated with PDF that the Nielsen Norman Group has published in 2001, 2003, and 2010. In short, Nielsen found that PDF files make usability approximately 300% worse compared to HTML pages for online reading. While there are features that can improve the online PDF experience, most PDFs are still produced with minimal consideration to downstream readers.
Several main problems commonly impede online readability for PDF content:
If readers can’t successfully access or interpret your message, knowledge does not transfer and the results can suffer. Business leaders interested in good financial stewardship and optimizing results will consider additional options for delivery, including the delivery of a digital experience.
To illustrate the opportunity enabled by alternative digital experiences, let’s look at two types of content: policies and procedures. Both are similar in that they essentially declare what should be done in a given situation to accomplish a goal.
Due to the regulatory aspect often associated with policies, the information may need to cover a wide range of variables that change based on local regulation or the actors involved with the policy. If written in a linear manner, the policy may explicitly list a set of rules based on various contexts, like geography. Even if one is able to search through the body of linear content and find what they need, precious time is lost and valuable information might be missed altogether, potentially leading to a costly mistake or lost business opportunity.
Let’s explore a banking scenario for a banker helping a customer traveling in a foreign country. The customer needs to make a 401k loan to assist with a real estate purchase. If policy content is enriched with metadata, the banker may leverage a simple search query based on a customer’s country of origin, geographic bank location, and specific product to arrive at the set of policies and legal disclosures which match that specific banking need. The banker is assured they have the valid information, the client gets what they need, and the company can ensure compliance to local rules for operation. Everybody wins.
For procedural content, let’s explore a field services scenario. Let’s say you are a field service technician and you need to take time to read about a new complex assembly which has been added to a line of products matching your area of responsibility. It’s your first time with the new assembly, so you want to read about it from start to finish before you’re out in the field. As you do so, you appreciate having a visual indicator showing how far you’ve come through a specific section in the procedure and how that assembly fits into the larger product as a whole. You may need to bookmark your place, add notes for later reference, and check related documents online as you work through this content the first time. While PDF could support some of those requirements, modern digital experiences can be designed to do it better, all from a web browser leveraging HTML5 content.
After you’ve gone through that initial experience and serviced the new assembly a few times, you generate a sense of familiarity with the procedure and no longer need the entire set of content. Instead, you navigate directly to the specific assembly for the specific product by entering a query. The content is enriched with metadata which helps provide a filtered view. You review the specific steps you need and are assured that you have the very latest content, with recently changed areas highlighted to show that your prior experience now needs to be informed by an additional step or two. This saves you time in the field and ensures you perform the task according to the latest, engineering-approved procedure. Moreover, as you’re servicing the equipment, you need to capture some information while you’re in the field to supplement your report.
These are just two examples where an HTML5 digital experience can provide a higher quality result. How that’s achieved will vary from system to system. Content automation solutions take into account rich user experience requirements and apply principles of manufacturing to deliver that enriched experience at scale.
Opportunities for discoverability, enhanced usability, and analytics abound with HTML5 digital experiences, but PDF still has its place. Since 1991, the format has enjoyed broad use for downloading and printing graphically-rich and emotionally engaging content for later reference. Governments around the world also leverage the archiving and accessibility features to meet their requirements. Those requirements can and often are met by evolving new digital experiences, but PDF will certainly be around for some time to come.
Content strategists must take into account which delivery formats are most appropriate for audiences. Any content automation solution must consider requirements for multiple formats or risk losing an entire audience segment. Exploring multiple delivery options helps ensure the content automation spend is optimized for highest impact and value.