Pulse Apple

Review: Quark Interactive Designer 1.0

This program has a simple and straightforward concept and interface, and it works very well to create presentations, interactive visits, online advertising banners, or to convert your pages into a complete website that includes multimedia content. You can also use QuID to create familiar elements such as navigation bars and animations without requiring any programming skills.

While the vast majority of designers will be satisfied with the basic actions provided by QuID (and you will need to consult the manual or video to understand how to use them, as they are not clear enough), it is likely that some designers will need to use some additional effects more complex and technically more difficult to produce. In any case, compared to Flash, QuID is still much easier to learn and use.

Additionally, Quark’s sync feature lets you sync paper, web, and interactive content – a great time-saving benefit as changes will automatically update to sync items for all documents of the same project.

Interactive process

Quark has long worked to make its design software more than just a tool for print-oriented designers. In version 5, released in 2002, it introduced the ability to create static web pages in HTML. The Quark QuID publication delves into this concept by now adding Flash authoring feature in Quark 7.

With QuID you can start a new project from scratch or convert an existing project. After opening the Interactive Palette dialog from the Window menu, you will find five tabs, labeled Object, Event, Script, Page and Keys; this is all you will need to turn your static designs into interactive, animated Flash movies. But unlike Flash, there is no complex timeline or reference frame handling. With QuID you only have to assign a name to the selected element and associate an event or action. It can be a user event, such as clicking on a specific area, or an automatic action such as the one that occurs when entering or leaving a page. You can use the Script tab to assign these types of actions. For example, if you want to play an animation, you will have to create a script that includes the Play action.

The program is supplied with more than 100 different actions (objects ready to use in your projects). If you want to create some more advanced functions for a website, then the Expression Editor will allow you to create new functions based on values ​​such as the position of the mouse cursor or the current date. You can also create some advanced Flash applications, such as interactive games.

Working at Quark

QuID is well integrated into QuarkXPress, including the new version 7 features such as job jackets and composition zones. For example, QuID allows you to create an interactive composition zone in a web document, thus providing a much more intuitive workflow.

An alternative to Flash?

QuID works well for certain Flash projects, and is even useful even for experienced Flash users using Quark. Designing a table, creating a multi-column based layout, or cropping an image can be time-consuming tasks in Flash, but not QuID. Best of all, you can place these items on a QuarkXPress master page so that they are included on every page of every document.

Unfortunately, you cannot save a project in the native Flash format (FLA), which means that you cannot start a project in QuID and finish it in Adobe Flash. You can only export standalone projectors (small applications that work when you double click on their icons), as well as documents with SWF format. Standalone projectors are useful for publishing your presentation to CD, rather than as a web page, since they do not require a browser or Flash plug-in.

Size

While Adobe Flash does an excellent job of keeping file sizes low, QuID does not achieve the same results. This is because Flash uses symbol instances (aliases); Unique items that are stored in a library and can be reused without affecting the size of the final file. QuID does not use symbol instances when elements are duplicated, as Flash does, but instead copies them. Therefore, the file size is larger.

For example, I have created an animation with two frames and saved it as Image Sequence in QuID and as Symbol in Flash. I have imported this sequence of images into a document 100 times and exported the file. The SWF file was less than 1 KB in Flash, while the version exported from QuID was 110 KB.

Another problem is that QuID automatically saves all imported images as JPEG allowing you to adjust only the overall compression value for all images using preferences. An experienced web designer can optimize an image better than any automated algorithm. It’s not much to ask that a web authoring tool leave GIF and JPEG files that have already been optimized unchanged. Quark should either implement a “Do Not Modify” option in the Modify dialog or enhance the options available in the Image Export section. There is an alternative that is to create a script that links to an external URL, but it is certainly not optimal.

As with most new products, QuID version 1.0 has several bugs and not very polished features, although they do not affect the usability of the product. However, there are some things that can be quite cumbersome. For example, if you want to change a step in a script, you cannot undo it.

conclusion

Quark Interactive Designer 1.0 is a good tool for any QuarkXPress 7 designer who wants to create interactive content with Flash or who wants to convert previous documents for use on the web. Even if you have Adobe Flash, you will find that there is no easier and faster way to convert your current designs as SWF movie. For a fairly reasonable price, this plug-in will pay off the investment with the first project. If Quark can reduce the size of SWF files and offer more control over images, it will further enhance a product that is already brilliant in its first version.

Web: www.quark.com