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People practically live online today, and bad web pages drive them away. If you are thinking about how to design a website that will engage your users, this is an excellent article for you.

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Now, in conjunction with your very own capture pages, you'll in addition need something liberal to give away. I highly recommend creating a free report or video lines. Although this can be time consuming, and why not a little technical at first, it gives huge dividends by branding you immediately as a frontrunner.

3) Branding Your Website pages. The only purpose of your
Authors: Sharon SteuerRating: 0/5Body: 

My previous CreativePro post looked at the FujiFilm F900EXR, the only uber-compact (roughly the size of an iPhone), super-zoom, 20x camera, with manual controls that shoots in RAW and RAW+JPEG. However, if you’re willing to consider a camera without RAW (you’re likely already doing that with your iPhone or smartphone, right?), or are willing to wait and spend a bit more money, then there are three other uber-compact, super-zoom cameras that might be a better fit for your photography and video needs: The Canon Powershot S

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X280 (currently $189 at; discussed below) and the Panasonic DMC-ZS30 (TZ40), and its 2014 upgrade the DMC-ZS40.


Before a closer inspection of the Canon, it might help you to differentiate the similar-looking cameras choices by considering the original focus for each of the companies.

FujiFilm was originally a film company, and as a result, it’s not surprising that the F900EXR provides the most “film-like” experience. Panasonic’s strengths have been as a leader in television, video, and electronics technologies. The Panasonic DMC-ZS30 (TZ40) incorporates best what Panasonic knows best, delivering the smoothest on-board video as well as the most impressive list of connectivity options, which even support remote camera operations from your smartphone or tablet. Contrasting with both FujiFilm’s film and Panasonic’s electronics innovations, Canon has been at the forefront of digital camera innovation for decades. Not only are Canon’s digital SLR cameras (the EOS line) considered amongst the best in the professional class, but for almost as long, Canon has led the market in super mini cameras with their ELPH series. The Canon Powershot SX280 combines some of the best of both the high end and of the miniaturizing technologies, making this camera a great fit for the digital camera enthusiast hoping to upgrade the miniature or smartphone experience.

Back before digital technology, there were a number of professional camera systems, and one of the undisputed leaders was Nikon. Even in the early days of digital, Nikon led the way with a digital camera back. According to my photographer friend Michael Bronfenbrenner, during the transition to digital, Nikon spent most of its resources to support existing analog lenses, while Canon jumped in and reinvented its cameras with faster digital-only technology.

As a result, the Canon SLRs are often considered the top of its class, with fast lenses, rotating viewfinders, and of course support for RAW format. While developing their SLR lines, Canon has also long dominated the compact digital market with the ELPH series of miniature cameras. Although not quite as mini as the ELPH, this relatively new line of cameras represented by the Canon SX20, represents a robust mid-range—between compact and professional. Although I think it’s a shame that this otherwise stellar camera doesn’t save images in RAW, but in many other ways this camera benefits by both Canon’s high-end and its miniaturized consumer-level digital technology.

Canon Design

I’m one of those people who has stayed loyal to Apple despite many frustrations, often just because I get joy from their superior industrial design. Though Canon’s industrial design isn’t quite at the level of Apple’s, I did find almost everything about the design and feel of the Canon to be satisfying. With uber-small cameras, where everything is and how it works is really important, and I found that I liked the locations and sizes of the camera buttons, zoom, and dials. I also appreciated the little things as well, like the way the battery was labeled so its arrows aligned to both the camera and the charger, that the plug for the charger folded to lay flat when not in use, and that the charging battery displayed either a red or green light to indicate its level of charge.

I also appreciated that there were a number of different methods to jump back to active shooting from the playback or functions modes (the FujiFilm kept flashing a notice that I needed to press the shutter to return to shooting mode). The onboard video recording in this Canon is much smoother than the FujiFilm, however if you shoot a still while you’re recording video, the camera returns to still mode and stops the video recording (the FujiFilm and Panasonic continue to shoot video while allowing you to simultateously shoot a still).

Manual Mode

One of the big differences between the FujiFilm and the Canon is how each interprets “manual mode.” While the FujiFilm provides the film-like experience of relying on the light meter to evaluate the absolute shutter and aperture effects, manual mode in the Canon is a much more of a WYSIWYG “digital camera” experience. When you use the Canon’s manual mode, the white balance and relative exposure are based on where you lock focus. The Canon also provides WYSIWYG feedback and records the exact exposure that you see in your LCD JPEG preview. Contrast that to the FujiFilm, which uses absolute exposure settings, and gives you a light meter to gauge the potential shot that you can capture in RAW.


Compared to the FujiFilm I found the ease of connecting the Canon to the iPhone to be simpler, with a very iPhone-like interface to choose which images to move over to the connecting device.


All three of these companies (FujiFilm, Canon, Panasonic) make cameras that are minimally larger than an iPhone, while representing huge leaps of technology beyond any smartphone. In my next review, you’ll see how the Panasonic is a good fit if you are looking for superior video and integration with smart devices. But if you’re willing to do without RAW, and are fine with decent video (versus the superior video and connectivity in the Panasonic), then the Canon is a very strong choice.

With a fairly intuitive interface, decent video recording, and a well thought-out design throughout, the Canon is a good camera for anyone looking to go beyond the capabilities of smartphone cameras. Honestly, when I was trying to grab a snapshot and had all three cameras available, I most often reached for the Canon. This model will continue to be in Canon’s line-up for 2014, with a couple of other cameras added with slightly different feature sets, but not replacing the SX280. And none of these other micro-cameras with super-zooms offer RAW. Stay tuned for the final miniature camera review in this three-part series—looking at a pair of cameras that can double as your video camera, and include superior connectivity to your smart devices: the Panasonic SZ30, and the 2014 model, the SZ40.

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Authors: Sharon SteuerRating: 5/5Body: 

If you’re reading this on CreativePro, chances are the iPhone has changed the way you take pictures. Even if you don't have an iPhone, the industrial designers at Apple have likely influenced the look and feel of your mobile phone, which probably takes remarkable photos. 

At some point I realized that I was only using my once beloved 35mm SLR Camera to shoot portfolio pictures of my art, while carrying an inferior compact 35mm camera only while traveling. Then, while writing a post on stitchi

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ng seamless panoramas for CreativePro in 2003, I discovered a line of digital cameras that inspired me to start shooting photos again. That camera was about half the size of a 35mm, with manual aperture, speed, ISO, and white balance, with a built in 10x zoom, and (essential for me) SLR-like framing (the camera records the exact composition displayed by the preview). This Olympus C series camera required no additional lenses and was small enough to carry everywhere.

Over the years, I got back into the practice of shooting pictures, and I upgraded this camera as it morphed into to the Z series with double the pixel resolution and zoom levels (up to 20x), and with significant improvements to the initially lagging turn on and shutter response, and the added feature of reduced shaking effects. When RAW file formats were introduced to the series, it replaced my 35mm camera as well. But of course, when the iPhone 4s shipped, the universe shifted. As we all know, the iPhone camera optics are darn good. Using apps like Pro Camera, the iPhone’s photo controls improve even more, allowing for multiple and timed shots, and splitting of controls for focus and exposure.

Sometime in 2012, I realized that except on a tripod shooting RAW, my “good” digital camera wasn’t taking pictures as crisp or clear as my iPhone. Especially in low light, the photos taken with the camera had more artifacts, plus the camera took significantly longer to turn on and snap the shutter. And most important, while the iPhone was always with me, I had all but stopped carrying the comparatively large camera with me. 

However, as amazing as the iPhone and its competitors are, I have been frustrated by some things that the iPhone can’t do. At the top of my wish list was the lack of a powerful optical zoom—with the iPhone I can’t get that snapshot of that hummingbird in the tree, or shoot a closeup of a moonrise. I am aware that there are adaptors for the iPhone, but if the point is to shoot quickly, then fumbling for and attaching devices isn’t the answer. I began to wonder if the technology improvements that brought us the iPhone finally meant that there might be a camera that was:

1) small enough to fit in a pocket,

2) equipped with a 20x or greater optical zoom and macro settings,

3) fast to start up and shoot,

4) stable enough to hand-hold a shot of a hummingbird in a tree (or my nephew at his soccer game),

5) equipped with manual controls for aperture, speed, white balance,

6) able to shoot in Camera RAW, 

7) equipped with a viewfinder to see the potential image in bright light. 

Throughout 2012, I looked at different cameras that came close but were missing something major from my list. Looking at the 2013 crop of cameras, I realized that these cameras were getting closer to meeting all my needs, but also that what I want in a camera has now been influenced by the way I use the iPhone. Connectivity from a camera to my iPhone wasn’t even on my radar in 2012, but now I can’t imagine a camera that didn’t give me a way to download pictures to my phone. And of course we now also expect to be able to shoot video from our cameras as well. 

So added to the list was:

8) It should quickly and easily connect wirelessly to my smart phone/computer.

9) It should shoot HD video.

Then, a few months ago I was at a party with my friend Kurt, looking at our iPhones and talking about how good the camera is when I mentioned how it wasn’t enough, and that I was on a hunt for a camera that met a whole list of criteria, whereby he pulled a FujiFilm FinePix F900EXR camera out of his pocket.


One by one, I went through the list of what I wanted in a camera, and this camera had almost all of them. I had seen reviews of this FujiFilm camera at the time, and had ruled it out because it didn’t have a viewfinder. But a funny thing had happened in the year since I started looking for a camera: I'd become so accustomed to using the iPhone camera that I had acclimated fully to using the screen to frame my shots…and so, at that moment I crossed the viewfinder off my “must have” list.

This camera takes astoundingly good photos. The detail that can be captured from a tight zoom while hand-held is downright scary. If you shoot at the full 16MP and zoom 20x, you can capture essentially 40x closer than the iPhone! The shots below show the view out my window using my iPhone, the wide angle from the FujiFilm, the tightest zoom on the highway in the distance, and then zoomed in to 1 for 1 pixel. Not quite NSA quality but you can almost read the license plates on the cars moving 60 MPH that are close to 3 miles away.

Snapshot out my window with areas of zoom indicated


Highway area zoomed in fully


The zoomed in photo above, viewed at 100%


Shoes on the roof zoomed in fully and viewed at 12.5%, you can see pebbles, laces, and read the brand

Shooting Modes

There are a variety of shooting modes, including Manual, Program, Shutter and Aperture priority, and a range of pre-sets including Sports (for rapid shots), sunset, etc. In addition, this camera includes FujiFilm’s proprietary EXR shooting mode that is purported to increase the dynamic range captured in a photo.

Viewfinder and Focus

Now that I was willing to forgo the viewfinder I have found a few other cameras in the same size profile, also with 20x zooms, but the FujiFilm F900EXR is apparently the only camera in its class that shoots in RAW and RAW+JPEG. Unlike other digital cameras, in manual mode, the LCD isn’t a true indicator of the image that you will be recording. As with a film camera, the light meter gives you the true feedback and not the image you see in the LCD. This is, of course, essential if you’re shooting in RAW because you want to maximize the data captured and not be lulled by the JPG preview. Although I’d read reviews of this camera that complaining how you could only focus in the center of the frame, you can in fact, easily change the focus setting so you can off-center the subject after locking focus. You also should be aware that in order to pack such an astounding zoom with fast shutter speed into a camera significantly smaller than a detachable zoom lens of this range, you won’t be able to achieve nearly the depth of field dynamics that are possible in a full-sized SLR.


There are a few areas where this camera doesn’t quite keep up to its competitors with similar size and zoom profiles (I looked at the Canon PowerShot SX280 and the Panasonic ZS30. In comparison to those cameras, the FujiFilm zoom operation isn’t as responsive or as smooth, which is most noticable when shooting video. In addition, the motor sound is louder in the sound recording (though my audio-pro husband says you should NEVER use the camera mic anyway!). The WiFi connectivity is a bit more cumbersome than its competitors, requiring a few coordinated steps on both the camera and phone. Lastly, this camera doesn’t provide any touch screen operation, though I suspect that future models of this camera will improve connectivity and introduce touch-screen technology, as FujiFilm already uses touch-screen in some of their other cameras (the 2014 crop of cameras ship in early Spring).

Final Thoughts

Priced at under $400, this uber-compact, super-zoom camera would likely be a significant gift for yourself or a beloved photographer. Competitors might offer more in the way of better implementation of “modern digital” features, such as zippier and smoother video recording, easier WiFi connection, touch screen access, but the FujiFilm F900EXR stands out by providing the highest resolution, traditional manual exposure feedback and controls, and in being the only camera of its class to allow you to shoot in RAW or RAW+JPEG. Although it won’t likely replace your iPhone or high-end digital SLR, carrying around this extremely powerful and very small camera would significantly increase the likelihood that you’ll capture that magic photo as you move through everyday life.

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Pros: Offers users the ability to find, buy, and embed missing fonts; much easier editing of page items

Cons: Pricey for an average designer

Rating: 9/10

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PitStop Pro 12 is a significant upgrade to this all-purpose (and all-powerful!) tool for preflighting and editing PDF files. It operates as a plug-in to Adobe Acrobat Standard or Pro, version 8 and higher. This review focuses on the new features in version 12, so for in-depth information on everything PitStop Pro can do, please see my previous review of PitStop Pro 11.

Enfocus, the developers of PitStop Pro, identified several areas that challenged users of previous versions and solved them, including:

• Missing fonts

• Flattening of transparency

• Editing images and gradients

• Identifying varnish separations

• Aligning objects

• Editing multiple similar objects at once

• Ink usage

• White objects that overprint

The biggest “wow” feature in PitStop 12 is that Enfocus has teamed with Monotype to automatically supply fonts that PitStop identifies as missing. For just $1.49 per font, per document, PitStop can instantly supply and embed the missing font into the PDF. (Currently, 30,000+ fonts are available in Monotype’s “Baseline” system, a subset of the 150,000 fonts in Monotype’s collection that includes Linotype, ITC, Bitstream and Ascender fonts.)

While this is a great first step toward making all fonts available to PitStop and your PDFs, the reality is that many (most?) creative layouts use fonts that are not available from those collections. If you’re lucky and all the missing fonts are available, one click will buy them and embed them into the PDF. Thankfully, PitStop shows you a preview of your PDF with the new fonts in use, so you can check for line endings and other possible text issues before continuing. If you don’t like what you see, or one or more fonts aren’t available from Monotype, then you can cancel and go get the missing font from another source. (As in previous versions, if the fonts are already active on your computer, PitStop can embed them for you without requiring a purchase.)


PitStop Pro 12 tells you which missing fonts it can supply, and which ones it can’t. When you click on a font, it highlights it in pink in the preview.

Still, this is a tremendously valuable step forward for PDF processing, especially for files from “average” business users who don’t use fonts from a wide variety of sources. You can try out the feature for yourself by installing the Test Drive version of PitStop — it requires a free account at Monotype, so you’ll also need to set that up from within PitStop. When I tested it on my documents it couldn’t supply fonts from Adobe, which could be a dealbreaker for some users.

PitStop’s other new features are smaller, but just as important for specific cases. For example, PitStop 12 can now report on ink usage, and the more advanced PitStop Server can even export that data. This can be helpful for large organizations who need to track how much ink is being used, and for planning their ink purchases. It can also identify fonts by lowercase x-height, which is necessary for European Union Regulation No. 1169/2011 requiring a minimum x-height for nutrition declaration on food packaging.

You can now adjust images using Photoshop-like curves, which lets you change contrast or remove a color cast (per channel or overall). You can also adjust brightness and contrast, or apply unsharp mask to enhance the edges of objects in the image — and you can apply these adjustments to multiple images at the same time.

PitStop’s Action Lists now include choices to add brightness or contrast, and to blur or sharpen the image. If an object has a troublesome gradient fill, you can edit the gradient’s colors, color mode, start/end points and rotation, or even replace it with a new one.


There’s also a new tool to align objects to each other or to the page, or to distribute the space between them. 


If the PDF includes spot varnishes, you can move them to a new PDF layer so that anyone with the free Adobe Reader can see where they are. 


White overprinting objects are now identified and can be changed to knock out items beneath them. You can flatten layers to the current view, and flatten Form Fields to become printable content. And the Server version of PitStop 12 now uses Adobe’s flattening engine, which makes the processing of transparency effects more predictable.

Editing page items is a bit easier and a lot more powerful. You can now right-click multiple page items to group them, which is handy when moving objects — especially in flattened PDFs, which can have a surprisingly large number of objects. You can now create separate layers (called Optional Content Groups or OCGs) for specific types of elements (text, images, graphics, and shading). This can help when editing items because you can quickly hide the ones that aren’t relevant.

Buying Advice

If you deal with a high volume of PDF files, PitStop Pro 12 can quickly repay its cost. Tracking down missing fonts is a time-consuming (and often thankless) job, so the new Purchase Missing Fonts feature may be enough to justify the upgrade. In fact, any one of the new timesaving features could fully justify the expense — to determine that for yourself, revisit the bulleted list at the beginning of this review.

System Requirements

Adobe Acrobat 8–XI Standard or Pro 


Microsoft Windows XP SP2 Professional or Home Edition 

Microsoft Windows 7, Home Premium, Business or Ultimate Edition 

(32-bit and 64-bit, running in 32-bit mode) Microsoft Windows 8, (32-bit and 64-bit running in 32-bit mode) 


Mac OS X 10.6, 10.7 and 10.8

Hardware requirements

Mac: Intel processor, 2 GB RAM, 2 GB hard disk space

Windows: 2GB Ram, 1GB hard disk space


$799 (upgrades: $219 from version 11; $339 from version 10)

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Pros: Vastly better picture previews, lots of feature improvements.

Cons: Performance can suffer with lots of high-resolution pictures.

Rating: 8/10


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p1">When an application as mature as QuarkXPress gets a new version number, you can expect a few big improvements and a whole lot of smaller ones. For big improvements in version 10, Quark chose to take on graphics display and handling, and a complete rewrite of their code for Mac OS X. Then they tackled a long list of user-requested smaller improvements, and added a few surprises.

Here’s a partial list of improvements:

• An entirely new “Xenon” graphics engine, which provides crystal-clear, pixel-accurate previews of all page items, including imported graphics such as PDF, EPS, PSD, AI, TIFF, JPG, PNG, and more.

• Full PDF transparency (“pass through”) support.

• Support for HiDPI displays, such as Apple’s Retina display.

• Rewritten for Mac OS X as a native Cocoa app, with dramatic speed improvements and access to special OS X features such as Recent Items, Dictation, File List in Dock, etc.

• Master pages can now have Layers!

• Palettes that automatically dock to the edges of the display, and automatically show/hide.

• Full-screen display of your document.

• An improved Measurements palette that completely replaces the old Modify dialog.

• A Quick Response Code (QR Code) generator.

• East Asian typography in all editions of QuarkXPress 10.

• Import pictures and hyperlinks from Microsoft Word documents.

• Maintain QuarkXPress formatting when updating linked tables from Excel.

• Copy and paste items while retaining Layer information.

• A new Print Preview with thumbnail page previews.

• Select a Key item for Space/Align to align to.

• Highlight missing fonts.

• Easily join, extend and close paths created with the Pen tool.

• Apply a style sheet to the current paragraph as you create the style.

• Flip shapes horizontally or vertically.

• Set default tool preferences from existing objects.

• More than 50 additional productivity enhancements.

Any one of the features above can justify the upgrade cost, depending on how you use QuarkXPress.

Quark claims that QuarkXPress 10 has a “Native and deep understanding of image and vector files: PDF, AI, TIFF, JPG, PNG, PSD, and more.” To demonstrate their improved image preview, here’s an example of a photo in the standard display quality in QuarkXPress 9 vs QuarkXPress 10:


Some additional benefits arrive with the new Xenon graphics engine: other page items such as gradients, blends and patterns also now look pixel-perfect, and QuarkXPress 10 can manipulate TIFF color channels and clipping paths directly.

When you need to precisely position elements on the page in relation to a graphic, you’ll appreciate the vastly improved imported PDF display — unlike InDesign, when you move a PDF graphic it remains sharp and detailed. Also, because QuarkXPress 10 now understands PDF at a deep level, QuarkXPress objects can now interact with transparent objects in imported PDFs.

Here’s an imported PDF file as seen at the standard display quality in QuarkXPress 9 vs QuarkXPress 10 (high-resolution previews are always on in version 10):


Unfortunately, if you work with a large number of high-resolution pictures in a lengthy document, moving around can get a bit sluggish (depending on your hardware, operating system, color management settings and so forth). I tested performance by importing about 200 high-resolution TIFF images into picture boxes on 16 pages (12 per page), and found that the first time I scrolled from page to page, it took from three to six seconds to view the new page. Also, the first time I clicked to see page thumbnails, it took 27 seconds for them to display. Subsequent scrolling was faster, possibly due to some kind of image caching. Quark plans to release a fix for this behavior in October.

The Measurements palette also received an overhaul, finally eliminating the old Modify dialog box. Now, everything you could formerly do in modal dialog boxes is available under these reorder-able tabs:


While some users will cheer at having everything in one place, some old-time users are likely to squawk about having to learn a new way of interacting with page items.

Working with color swatches in QuarkXPress is now a lot easier, due to the GIANT color swatch picker:


The Print Preview dialog now not only shows actual thumbnails of your pages, it also shows how the page will fit (or not!) onto your current paper choice:


Those who work with east Asian languages will be thrilled that all editions of QuarkXPress 10 now support advanced east-Asian language features. Here’s an example of using Chinese characters alongside western characters in a book I’m working on:


If your clients or co-workers use Microsoft Word, importing their work into QuarkXPress 10 is a lot smoother because QuarkXPress can now import inline pictures and hyperlinks. That’s a huge improvement.

Quick-Response Codes (QR Codes) are all the rage, so QuarkXPress provides a simple way to create one right on the page. Just type in a URL, a phone number, a mailto: or any other text (or a complete address VCard containing name, phone number, email and website) and QuarkXPress fills a picture box for you: 


The QR Code picture box contains native QuarkXPress rectangles, so you can resize the QR Code without losing clarity, and you can change its color by using the standard color controls in QuarkXPress. Unfortunately, when moving the QR Code on the page you’ll experience the same delays as when moving picture boxes (see above), but Quark promises a fix will be released in October.

For several versions now, QuarkXPress has let you add complex interactivity to page items. Previously, it output to Flash format, but QuarkXPress 10’s interactivity features are now all about HTML 5: 


If you use QuarkXPress with App Studio to create apps for mobile devices, you’ll enjoy several new features, such as “Page Flip”:


If you’re not familiar with App Studio, here’s a diagram of what you can give it, and what it can export to (click to enlarge):


Some important things got left behind:

With this rewrite of the code base, QuarkXPress 10 will only open QuarkXPress files back to version 7. If you have documents last saved in version 6 or earlier, you’ll want to keep a copy of QuarkXPress 8 or 9 handy to open and re-save those. QuarkXPress 10 also drops support for exporting to Flash, Blio and HTML 4 (HTML 5 is SO much more capable!).

Bottom line:

I’m not going to get into the question of whether QuarkXPress is “better” than its competition — that totally depends on what kind of work you do. If you use QuarkXPress, you’ll find that version 10 has a giant number of large and small improvements that will make your work more efficient, and open up additional project opportunities for you.


System Requirements:

Mac OS X 10.7 Lion and later (including 10.9 Mavericks)

Windows 7 and 8


Hardware requirements: 

Mac: Intel processor, 2 GB RAM, 2 GB hard disk space

Windows: 2GB RAM, 1GB hard disk space



$849 (upgrades: $349 from version 8 or 9)

Discounts for non-profits and education


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