Quark Interactive Designer

Quark Interactive Designer

Quark Interactive Designer lets you pretend you're a Flash programmer - without the heavy lifting.


QuarkXPress has been around for nearly two decades and has a fantastic array of tools for creating print layouts that nearly every designer in the world can use. So how about giving those designers a tool for making their layouts interactive? Better still, why not allow them to export that interactive content as standard Flash movies? That's where Quark Interactive Designer, an extension to QuarkXPress, steps in.


After you install QID, a new Interactive layout is available in QuarkXPress, as well as a new Interactive palette and several minor new menu options. The Interactive palette is key, since it contains almost all of QID's tools. All you have to do is select an object in an Interactive layout, give it a name in the palette, and then choose an action to assign to it (and when that action should take place) using one of the pull-down menus or one of the palette's other tabs. The usual range of event options, such as double-clicks, mouse-overs, and mouse-outs, can trigger actions. Using the Script options, you can string together multiple actions into a single response to these events. You can also arrange for actions to occur as soon as the finished project displays, in response to key presses, or when the user exits the project. You can even customize the cursors used by the project. The upshot (and main selling point) is that you don't have to write a single line of ActionScript, Flash's programming language, or use Flash's timeline to orchestrate the actions.


Getting a grip on QID is surprisingly easy. Experienced Web designers, particularly those who are used to working with tools like Adobe's Dreamweaver and GoLive, should grasp QID quickly. That's not to say you'll get the most out of it immediately. Many little options, such as image sequences and buttons, are tucked away, and you may need to study the manual to fully fathom how to use them. But an experienced QuarkXPress user can put together relatively simple interactive designs with QID in just a small amount of time.


As a coding tool, QuarkXPress 7 with QID is surprisingly versatile. With the composition zones in QuarkXPress, for example, it's possible for multiple designers to work simultaneously on the layouts, whether that's the interactive version, the Web version, or the print version. You can also use the image-editing tools and all other layout features in QuarkXPress, making QID a far more versatile design-creation tool than Flash. But it's no real competitor to Flash, which Quark itself admits. While getting rid of the timeline makes it easier for users to create projects and to learn how to use the program, it also makes it impossible to create complicated Flash movies. The lack of ActionScript also makes QID less powerful.


QID's make-or-break point is the output. You can include the interactive content as Flash movies on the Web pages that QuarkXPress can export, or you can export them as pure SWF movies. The SWF option also allows you to export the movie with an embedded Flash projector for either OS X or Windows. Disappointingly, embedded videos can only be exported in Flash 6 or 7 format, not Flash 8, and they're exported as separate files, not kept within the main SWF file. Also, you can't tweak the HTML code from within QuarkXPress - you have to export the project first and access the HTML in another app.


The bottom line. QID is easy to learn and to use, although it has a few kinks - something to be expected in a 1.0 release. If you know QuarkXPress but aren't interested in becoming an expert Flash designer or coder, QID could be for you.


CONTACT: www.quark.com
PRICE: $199
REQUIREMENTS: Mac OS 10.4 or later, 32MB RAM, 130MB disk space, QuarkXPress 7.02 or QuarkXPress Passport 7.02
Features the same layout power and simplicity of QuarkXPress. No programming skills required. Designers can work on the same projects. Universal binary.
Slightly limited range of Flash.





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