updated 01:05 pm EST, Wed February 23, 2011
Joined by assortment of new and improved tools
Developer Quark has formally announced QuarkXPress 9, a long-awaited upgrade of its flagship publishing suite. The software has traditionally been used to create layouts for print and web content, but in version 9 Quark is concentrating on smartphones and tablets, particularly the iPad. For the latter QuarkXPress now includes the App Studio, a component used to produce native iPad apps. Users can repackage existing content or create apps from whole cloth.
Also new is an ePub export tool, supporting a broader range of platforms including but not limited to iBooks, Kindle and Nook. Backing this is an added Reflow View, which manages layouts so they appear properly in any format which reflows. A platform uniquely supported by v9 is the Blio eReader, which runs in Windows, Android or iOS.
More general-purpose additions to the suite include an element cloner, a new bullets and numbering system, and "conditional" styles, which arrange content automatically based on a set of rules. Callouts move boxes and groups alongside text, and an ImageGrid option lets people quickly import and build grids of graphics. Similarly, the Linkster is meant to unlink or relink text boxes or stories. The Story Editor offers a word processor view of project text.
QuarkXPress 9 is scheduled to ship in April. The full suite will cost $799, although upgrades from v7 or 8 will be $299, and anyone who has bought v8 between January 1st and April 30th will be eligible for a free copy of v9. App Studio will not be included with the initial release, but rather pushed as a free update within 90 days after launch. Until then developers will need help from Quark's iPad Publishing Service to get a properly formatted app.