QuarkXPress 6.5 review
And this is only the beginning. As well as adjustments, QuarkVista offers a range of effects from Gaussian Blur through to Unsharp Mask, Despeckle through to Add Noise. Multiple effects can be applied simultaneously, each appearing in a re-orderable list in the palette, and these can be saved as reusable presets. Best of all, these adjustments and effects are applied non-destructively, which means you can fine-tune your settings while your original image remains unaffected (though you can also save changes to a new file or overwrite the original if desired). And because QuarkXPress is applying effects live, this is handled intelligently based on the current picture box transformations regarding scaling, skewing, rotation and cropping – a factor that can lead to major improvements in print processing time.
But it’s important not to get carried away. Compared to Photoshop’s hands-on pixel-level editing, QuarkVista is inherently limited, and for creative imaging control, it doesn’t come close to the combination of Photoshop CS and InDesign CS (though the promise of multilayered PSD import in the near-future should erode this to some extent). What QuarkVista does deliver is the most commonly required imaging power right where you need it: in-situ in your layout. In other words, it provides the core functions that the majority of designers will use every day to produce better work, more quickly. As such, 6.5 can be seen as a more significant release than either 5 or 6, with the woefully misguided focus on simplistic web authoring. The fact that it’s free doesn’t do any harm either.
Ultimately, QuarkXPress 6.5 doesn’t change the larger picture. The long-term future remains bleak, and this upgrade certainly won’t be enough to attract new users away from InDesign. Having said that, the rise of InDesign doesn’t mean that you can no longer produce good work with QuarkXPress. The program’s strength has always been its no-frills productivity, and the inclusion of QuarkVista means that this is enhanced further. There’s still some life left in the old dinosaur.