Quark vs PM vs FM

Subject: Quark vs PM vs FM
From: "Dave L. Meek's User Account" <dave -at- ROGUE -dot- DISC-SYNERGY -dot- COM>
Date: Wed, 17 May 1995 10:04:08 -0700

From dave Wed May 17 09:53:04 1995
From: "Dave L. Meek's User Account" <dave -at- rogue -dot- disc-synergy -dot- com>
To: dave -at- rogue -dot- disc-synergy -dot- com
Subject: xxx
X-Mailer: SCO Portfolio 2.0
Date: Wed, 17 May 1995 9:53:02 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <9505170953 -dot- aa09202 -at- rogue -dot- rogue -dot- disc-synergy -dot- com>

Recently, I asked for information on QuarkXpress. The responses
I received were excellent. The following post is a listing of
those responses. My thanks to everyone who took time out of
their busy schedules to help me! (Long post follows.)

Our designers use Quark almost exclusively. (We have a
publishing dept with 300+ people and are one of the largest Mac
users on the west coast.) Our
vely. (We have a publisn pst Mac users on the west coast.) Ihave a 2-page
summary (prepared in 1991) that gives detailed reasons why thedesign group
chose it ov
r PageMaker (Ventura had a brief heydey here, but

Last year PC Magazine listed Pagemaker, FrameMaker, and QuarkXPress as
the top three DTP programs. They ran a comparison chart showing the
various features. I don't seem to have that issue any longer, but from
what I remember, Pagemaker was the most versatile overall, but was less
satisfactory for very long documents. FrameMaker was less versatile, but
showed a superior ability to handle long documents. QuarkXPress was
described as being possible superior to FrameMaker in handling long
documents, but is much more difficult to learn.

Quark XPress is *not* superior to FrameMaker, not even possibly superior, in
handling long documents. In fact, XPress is the worst of these three in
handling long documents like manuals. FrameMaker is best, but has a very
steep learning curve; PageMaker is second best for manuals and other long
documents because of its built-in text editor and book features. XPress is
best at advertisements, brochures, and newsletters.
I teach all three of these programs on Mac and Windows.

Even if you've never used QuarkXPress and don't plan to, you should get a
copy of The QuarkXPress book by David Blatner and Eric Taub (Peachpit. ISBN
1-56609-129-2). It will give you an idea of what makes Quark enthusiasts so
It's also an example of first-rate technical commnuication.

I am one of the writer's of Que's Using QuarkXPress 3.3. I have also used
Framemaker, PageMaker, Word, and all major and minor software programs.
Without question Quark is THE standard in desktop publishing. It gives you
much more creativity with page layout and design. You have greater
capabilities for letterspacing and kerning. And if you are printing four
color the trapping in Quark is superb. The vast majority of magazines and
newspapers published are constructed using Quark. I can't think of a one
which uses FrameMaker.

Quark also has a lot of extentions that will let you do virtually any type of
indexing, updating catalogs in Quark from a database (keep your pricing
current in your database and have Quark automatically update itself.

The publishing edition of Quark lets the designers design pages using
writers' files which automatically update themselves across the network in
the layout file should the writers and editors still be working on the
editorial aspects of things.

In my experience, Frame is really great for text intensive stuff. It
handles HUGE manuals better than any other DTP program out there, being
able to accommodate literally thousands of pages.

However, if you want to do something more fancy such as using photos,
adding color, etc., I would suggest either Pagemaker or Quark. Both are
excellent programs for that, while still being able to handle very large
amounts of text. For example, I was using Pagemaker to DTP manuals of
300-400 pages with no problems and the manufacturers of both programs
claim they can each handle up to 1000 pages per document.

While I love Pagmaker, I have found that Quark has some advantages over
Page. A really big advantage I didn't discover until after we had already
decided on Pagemaker is that you can create multiple master pages in
Quark while Page only allows you to create two. In our department we ran
across numerous times when we needed to be able to create more than two
master pages.

If you really want to investigate the three programs, I believe that PC
Magazine ran a VERY detailed, informative comparison of them two years
ago. I suggest you check it out.

Quark is about the best package out there for typography, but I think it
comes up short for your needs. It doesn't do TOCs or indexes, and the
word processing functionality isn't too strong. I prefer to work in WP or
Word, then import to Quark.

PageMaker comes up short too. It does TOCs and indexes fairly well on
short pieces, but I don't think it would work well on a complicated
document. Word processing is nearly non-existent in PM.

In the Quark Vs. PageMaker debate; my roomate/bestest-good-friend (now a
publications designer, graphic artist, software instructor) commented when
she was first learning these packages that

o Quark runs more like an artist thinks, while

o PageMaker runs like a computer operator thinks...

She's produced several magazines in Quark XPress, and uses it more than
any other package... (she teaches both packages, tho <smile>)

As she's been trying to figure out FrameMaker lately, she's commented that
FM does everything she thinks Pagemaker tries to do, but better <blush>
for large complex documents (concerning page layour and organization, not

For an example of what Quark XPress does in regular, large-document
production, take a look at magazines like Car Craft or Hot Rod (last I
knew they were still done in Quark on Macs).

QuarkXpress is really very much an advertising designer's or colour
publisher's tool. All my graphic deisgner friends use & love it - its great
for colour seps, etc - but then they don't notice the lack of automatic
TOCs, indexing, etc (and as one of them said, 'it's great for less than
three pages'). If you were using Ventura, and thinking of Framemaker, Quark
is probably not for you. It's certainly not something I'd think of for
technical publication.

I've been using Frame, Quark, and PageMaker (all on the Mac,
if that matters) for years. My evaluations (in order of personal choice):

Frame: Ideal for long documents, especially structured or technical
documents such as manuals, textbooks, or theses. Powerful text
formatting capabilities (character styles save tremendous amounts
of time). Graphics tools are poor - I typically import graphics
prepared in other programs by reference, which lets me update the
graphics and have the fixes show up in my documents. Outstanding
indexing, numbering, and cross-referencing capabilities. The 4.0.2
release is extremely stable. I haven't played with the newly announced
5.0 release yet.

QuarkXPress: Quick and flexible. The standard choice for designers
and DTP types doing one-page flyers and unique layouts. Good text
handling capabilities - no character styles, but floating menus
let you tweak text without going to menus.

PageMaker: Useful, but sort of old-tech. Strongest area is probably
short, standard documents, such as newsletters. Again, graphics
capabilities are primitive. Nested dialog boxes are annoying.

Recommendation: Frame if you are preparing documents more than several
pages long, especially if you are going to be using the same styles
from one document to the next. If you are doing short DTP projects,
go with Quark.

Last year PC Magazine listed Pagemaker, FrameMaker, and QuarkXPress as
the top three DTP programs. They ran a comparison chart showing the
various features. I don't seem to have that issue any longer, but from
what I remember, Pagemaker was the most versatile overall, but was less
satisfactory for very long documents. FrameMaker was less versatile, but
showed a superior ability to handle long documents. QuarkXPress was
described as being possible superior to FrameMaker in handling long
documents, but is much more difficult to learn.

I have worked extensively with Pagemaker and FrameMaker, but have never
had the opportunity to work with Quark, so cannot speak from
experience. My impression is that FrameMaker is more commonly used in
technical writing departments.

I've worked with both and I have to say Quark blows PageMaker out of the
water. For example, suppose you want to line up your document on the top
and bottom of the page in a three-column format. In PageMaker , every time
you make a change to the document, you have to go back and fix all your
columns. Not with Quark. It does it automatically. This is just one of
many headaches I no longer have since switching to Quark.

First off, let me note that this comes
down in many respects to the same religious argument that separates
Mac vs. PC users and MS Word vs. WordPerfect users. Much of this comes
down to a matter of preference. That being said, here are some

- Quark offers far greater typographic and artistic control than
PageMaker, although some of the "greaters" are functionally
meaningless (e.g., kerning in increments of 0.001 em instead of 0.01
em, which most non-artists will never notice). On the whole, though,
Quark has more and stronger features than PageMaker; the tradeoff is
that as with MS Word, you pay a price in convenience and bulk/speed.

- Out of the box, PageMaker is slightly better for long documents than
Quark; Quark used to be primarily for layout-intensive tasks, but has
now closed the gap with PageMaker. I've read PageMaker is still
superior, but can't confirm this.

- Quark has a reputation for buggy first releases, with stable
maintenance releases. They also have a universal reputation as having
the most user-hostile policies (in part tech. support, in part
corporate arrogance) in the universe: nonetheless, they have a large
and loyal following, which says something about the quality of the

- Despite Aldus' recent addition of extensability to PageMaker, Quark
has more and better third-party add-ons. This is particularly true if
you're prepared to pay a few thousand for stuff such as p.ink and
Quark Copy desk for workgroup publishing (e.g., to put together a

I prefer PageMaker, but then, I've never tried Quark and base this
opinion on what I've read: I work effectively with PM, and see no need
to switch. Objectively, Quark sounds like the better product and is
reviewed as such in most computer magazines.

I think Quark is unparalleled for producing marketing fliers, pamphlets,
posters, brochures, etc. It gives you a level of control over the details of
your document's appearance that is excellent. But this detailed control is also
its weakness as it starts to fall down a bit when handling long documents. Its
indexing and TOC functions for long documents seems to be a trifle cumbersome.

Quark is very user friendly with many command/mouse controlled features which
can really speed up your work once you become familiar with the program. Eight
months ago I jumped in cold without any knowledge of what the program was
capable of and to this day I still discover handy little features. The page
layout capabilities are amazingly flexible. I work as a Tech Writer/Graphix
artist and I've discovered many graphic uses in addition to the page layout
features. You can import just about anything into Quark, then you can layer
multiple images. It's all drag and drop. You can have as many text boxes as
needed wherever you want to put them. Text on top of graphics, wrapped around
graphics, everything you would expect from a top notch DTP program. And user
friendly to top it all. I love it and I use it for everything. Best of all you
can print to postscript and take the disk to the printer for your hardcopy
production. Going straight from disk offers better quality printout. There is
no indexing feature, but a QuarkXtension is available from a third party
developer which can solve this problem. Quark has many added features available
as extensions, kind of like PhotoShop plug-ins. They seem to meet needs even if
the features aren't included with the main program. My only substantial
complaint with Quark is dealing with the company. They are a pain in the butt
to deal with. They have a good product and they know it, so they do things the
way they want to. We bought Quark and two months later I upgraded to a Power
Mac. While most programs are now being shipped with both PPC and 0X00
versions...not Quark. They want $225 to upgrade when the PPC version is only
$100 dollars more than the 0X00 version in the catalogs. I asked them about
this and they kind of shrug their shoulders and tell me that's the way it is.
So I love QuarkXPress the program and I despise QuarkXPress the company. Oh

About one year ago, tired of coping with various problems in Ventura 4.1 for
Windows, my company decided to investigate other options. We talked to our
service bureau, which had much experience with different programs on both
the Mac and PC platforms, and they highly recommended we take a look at
Quark XPress. In fact, they invited me and a coworker over to see a
demonstration of the program, and it was that demonstration which sold us on
the program.

We are quite happy we changed over to Quark XPress 3.3 for Windows. We have
had very few problems. There is much more control over typographical
elements than Ventura gave, although we do miss Ventura's equation editor
once in a while for creating fractions. The ability to have multiple
documents open and to cut-and-paste between them, complete with formatting
intact, has proven to be a tremendous timesaver in our work, whereas Ventura
could only open a single document at a time. Quark uses a paragraph "style
sheet" setup which functions similarly to Ventura's paragraph tags, but
offers control over many more variables.

The learning curve for us was pretty easy--we were doing productive work in
about a week, without getting any special training. The documentation gave
us a good start, and our experience with CorelDRAW, which has some similar
menuing conventions, gave us a basic sense of where different commands would
be found and what they'd do.

For those who want them, there are also Quark XTensions, supplemental
programs sold by various vendors to perform special tasks seamlessly with
Quark. We do not use them, but they are out there.

One caveat is that you cannot directly import Ventura documents into Quark.
You can cut-and-paste text between the two programs, but without keeping
Ventura formatting. So changing over a library of documents from Ventura to
Quark takes time. We created some "boilerplate" layouts, and simply waited
until it was time for a normal update of a document, when we would take one
of those prototype Quark documents, complete with standard formatting, and
incorporate the text from Ventura. We were also able to use the .EPS
graphics in our Ventura documents directly, simply importing them into new
frames in Quark.

All told, we are quite happy we made the change, and can recommend Quark
XPress for Windows 3.31 without reservation. I have never seen FrameMaker in
action, so I don't know if it has any benefits over Quark XPress. If at all
possible, see demonstrations of the programs before you decide.

My tech magazine recently switched over from Pagemaker to Quark with VERY
favorable results. I would highly recommend the program for speed,
usability and lack of bugginess.

In my opinion, QuarkXpress is a graphic artist's desktop publishing tool,
and not suitable for routinely producing documents - even documents with
multiple graphics. Quark's major advantage is the ability to automatically
resize column widths to fit a specific area. Of course, your DTP tasks will
be the determining factors.

When I was attending Arizona State University, I used Quark extensively to
design newsletters and other such materials. It's difficult to learn, but a
great tool once you master it. However, it's strength lies in dealing with
heavy graphics, and that's not necessarily a primary concern for a technical

I have been researching DTP products recently for my company, and have found
that Framemaker seems to be the way to go. Framemaker's main strength is
its ability to handle large documents, where Quark tends to falter in this
area. By the way, there is a great article comparing the various DTP
products in the May 17, 1994 issue of PC Magazine.

My vote is that for technical documentation, use Frame. For marketing
materials, Quark is the leader.

Dave Meek

Dave Meek

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