The desktop publishing war: Adobe InDesign or QuarkXPress?

March 9, 2009

The title of this post says enough, and it's a war that no graphic designer, publisher, newspaper or magazine has been able to steer clear from. Some people prefer QuarkXPress, others prefer InDesign: It's that simple, and with that the argument should be settled. Unfortunately, that's not a possibility. The need for multiple software licenses, cross-program incompatibilities and budget constraints force businesses to choose one over the other. While QuarkXPress has won its share of individual battles, Adobe InDesign has emerged as the clear winner of the war. Without going into whether one desktop program is better than the other (Personally, I don't care -- the way I see it, if you learn how to use either software correctly you can tackle most applications with ease and speed), it's fair to say that InDesign has quickly become the better market performer. The reason? Diversification and smart marketing come to mind. QuarkXPress is the lone horse in Quark's stable; no matter how you order it, it always comes the same way. There are no choices, no bonuses. Adobe, on the other hand, routinely packages InDesign with its Creative Suite, which has a twofold effect: 1) Customers who purchase other Adobe software such as Photoshop, Illustrator and Dreamweaver are introduced to InDesign and realize they don't need to buy another software package to handle layout; and 2) customers see value in buying all of their publishing software in one package, especially since files are practically guaranteed to be cross-compatible. Adobe InDesign is king, and not necessarily because it's better in function, but because it is better packaged and marketed. By diversifying the company's product offering, Adobe has created opportunities to sell other products all-in-one and has taken a commanding hold of the market. Are you a one-product wonder or do you diversify?

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About Brian Morris

Brian Morris serves in various capacities as a freelance writer, content developer and public relations specialist for growing small businesses. When he’s not writing, he can be found on the racquetball court - usually getting his tail kicked by guys 20 years older.

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Paul January 07, 2016 03:21 am #

Brian, while I think you're right on one level in terms of Adobe being smart by essentially giving away InDesign with Photoshop and Illustrator I disagree as to the war being over and won. What I think is going to happen is that QuarkXPress or InDesign is going to become an irrelevance. Feature X versus feature Y and even the relative cost of the two applications pales into insignifcance when you look at the broader challenges the publishing industry is facing and by publishing industry I don't just mean publishers and printers, I also mean corporate marketing departments, technical documentation departments etc. The larger war is going to be around publishing automation and from what I've seen and heard from Quark so far on this front, they may be able to move into a leadership position. Hell it even appears they support InDesign in their solutions now so they obviously don't see this as a relevant issue either for customers. Check out and that appear to have some good information on what else Quark is doing beyond QuarkXPress.

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Brian January 07, 2016 03:21 am #

Paul - excellent contribution and your thoughts are much-appreciated. I agree that automation is going to play a large role in the emerging publishing market. In fact, many companies are already utilizing dynamic publishing technology. I looked into your excellent links and learned that not only can dynamic publishing save time and money in creative work and marketing communications, it can boost office efficiency by automating tasks such as invoice and sales slips creation. You bring up a good point, and one that I should have covered in my post: Quark revolutionized the desktop publishing industry once - so why shouldn't we expect them to do it again?

At the same time, I do have to wonder if even an early lead in the dynamic publishing race will be enough to sustain Quark's position at the forefront. Adobe's Creative Suite already allows for multi-platform publishing, though not to the extent of the dynamic publishing you're referring to. If Adobe were to push a system similar to the QuarkXPress Server, could the company find a way to leapfrog Quark?

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