QuarkXPress quotes on Ars Technica

The Quark reps were humiliated. It was so obvious that all this stuff was going to take the friction out of our departments, which sometimes moved up to 200 ads a day. I remember this PM from Brooklyn sitting beside me who grabbed my arm partway through the demo, and we actually held each other while we listened.

I contributed to this Ars Technica piece, which includes my lengthy production software reminiscences about the year that Quark opened the door for InDesign to completely replace them in the wider publishing market. The article focuses a lot on specific features but even if that’s not your thing, hold out for the section on the logistics of conversion.

I still often think about the way things went down, it was a great lesson about hubris in the tech market and the crucial importance of really serving your users—serving them in ways that will surprise them and make their lives better, rather than serving them the least amount you can get away with. Also a great lesson about how hard it is to come back from that kind of mistake when your whole industry relies on platform compliance between companies and publications.

The thing is, the effort and risk of changing a whole company to a new piece of software is so great that that release still wouldn’t have swayed us if Quark had actually done its job with Quark 6 and made a competitive update. But it didn’t, and the time, job happiness, and financial implications of switching to CS2 were super crystal clear. Everybody did it.

I did it for the Santa Barbara Independent, and it was a months-long process of testing, file conversion preparation, and training to make sure that our conversion week wouldn’t implode when it happened. But once you’ve switched, you’re done. As Quark should have known in the first place, it’s almost impossible to get people to go back again without a super compelling reason. Maybe they implemented all those awesome things in a later version, but we would never know.

Read the whole piece, by Dave Girard: How QuarkXPress became a mere afterthought in publishing

p.s. I love how this got 85 comments in the first 9 hours.  Production people are lovably prone to nostalgia and/or getting fiery about software.

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