InFocus: A Profile of Quark, Inc.

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Article ImageQuark is best known for its QuarkXPress desktop publishing software, which revolutionized the way we approached designing documents back in 1987. Today, we take for granted the ability to design and edit documents electronically, but 21 years ago, it was cutting-edge technology.

"Quark is still well-known for its desktop publishing system," says PG Bartlett, SVP of product management, "but it has become a lot more than that over the years."

In 1992, the company introduced the Quark Publishing System (QPS), which introduced enterprise capability. "It’s based on collaboration," Bartlett says. "How do you get people to contribute in the workflow without stepping on each other? QPS was created to help teams of professionals to work together more creatively."

Nine years later, Quark added Quark Express Server. "For documents that require mass customization, you can use the desktop product to create the template and use Server to generate all the variations of the document," explains Bartlett.

This year, Quark added an additional dimension to its publishing technology. "We’ve taken a step further to plant a flag for our role in dynamic publishing," Bartlett says. Dynamic publishing software can mean lots of things, he continues. "It can mean automation, personalization, multichannel, effective reuse of information. To us, it means all of those things."

Bartlett points out that the company has seen a change of leadership over the past 2 years and that most of the new leaders bring experience in dynamic publishing. Bartlett has been with the company since September 2008. "What drew me to Quark was the opportunity based on this vision of dynamic publishing," he says. "Part of that exciting opportunity is to bring dynamic publishing to the mainstream."

Typically, companies involved with dynamic publishing are either designing to solve a very specific problem or using a broad set of tools for a range of problems. In both cases, there is a long learning curve. The most difficult area is setting up content for automation, and Bartlett says the best way to create automation is by using XML. "But how do you create XML to appeal to the mainstream?" he ponders.

Quark’s first step to make dynamic publishing more accessible was to acquire Research. " Research developed an add-on to Microsoft Word that allows Word authors to create XML information within an application that feels comfortable and familiar," Bartlett says. "The benefit of that is to decrease the initial resistance that users have to adopting XML; also, the software was designed in a way that dramatically shortens the learning curve. With a half hour of training, people can start designing XML." This is a huge development, Bartlett adds, because dynamic publishing and designing XML has been a real investment in both time and dollars.

"What I’ve seen in my career is people saying they love what they can do in dynamic publishing and want to use it more broadly," Bartlett says. "To bring it into the mainstream is to introduce tools that are familiar to reduce the learning curve and to reduce the implementation costs."

Another challenge is setting up the publishing side to automate whatever the user wishes. This is where Quark fits in. "Quark is very good at high-quality publishing, flexible layouts, and good user interface," Bartlett says. "By applying that same interface to creating templates for printed pages, we’re reducing barriers on the implementation side."

"In my opinion, the only company that could do that on the authoring side was, and one of a handful of companies on the publishing side is Quark. Now we have both of those companies and ideas together under one roof," Bartlett says.
This union is essential to mainstreaming dynamic publishing. "Today, not only do you have all the intellectual work to communicate information, you also have all the publishing work," Bartlett says. "Dynamic publishing makes knowledge communicators more productive."

Dynamic publishing can produce better documents for ever-changing technologies. "PDFs are great on a computer," Bartlett explains, "but not so easy to read on a hand-held device. Dynamic publishing will allow users to create information in many more variations."

In this reinvention of the publishing dynamic, Quark hopes to leverage its dominance of desktop publishing and take the lead in dynamic publishing.


Fun Fact: When the company remodeled its Denver headquarters, it installed a huge "Q" logo on the ceiling of the lobby.


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