Happy 30th Birthday, QuarkXPress!

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:

  • Designers need precision in typography. QuarkXPress was the first to offer precise settings for leading.
  • QuarkXPress was the first to offer kerning and tracking, horizontally and vertically, which allows designers to apply granular precision to typography, down to a hundredth of a millimeter.
  • Print production needs WYSIWYG, quality separation, and support for inks. QuarkXPress was the first to bring to market color separations and trapping, which streamlined the process of preparing layouts for press and created an immediate return on investment.
  • The introduction of an XTensions interface in QuarkXPress version two was among the first examples of a developer allowing others to create software add-ons for its application.
  • In 1989 QuarkXPress also made international inroads by offering French and German versions along with support for English, extending it further to over 35 languages.

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:

  • First layout application to make AI, EPS and PDF editable
  • First to offer non-destructive Image Editing in a page layout application
  • First to offer text variables that line-break and hyphenate
  • First to show high-fidelity previews of vectors elements even when being moved
  • First to offer 8000% zoom
  • First to offer footnotes and endnotes
  • First to offer conversion from Print to HTML5 and exporting HTML5 locally (no subscription needed), pixel-perfect and responsive
  • First to allow creating “unlimited” iOS apps from the Desktop, again no subscription needed
  • First to be a single bundle on MacOS

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.