A Major Announcment From Quark

March 6th, 2008

Check out the new section of the Quark Web site on what they’re calling the “Quark Dynamic Publishing Solution.” (1-1-2011: No longer there. Very dynamic indeed.) Dynamic Publishing is something altogether new for Quark, and reflects, I think, the relatively recent infusion of a host of senior staff from the old Arbortext (now owned by PTC).

Arbortext offered what was called an “enterprise-class” high-end XML-based publishing system. It cost plenty, and was strictly directed at the largest publishing organizations that could consider spending $1 million to get “mission-critical” information into print (and on the Web). Great technology, but very limited because of price and complexity. How do you take the best of the concepts from a high-end system like Arbortext’s and bring those into the world of mere mortals? When you mix the culture of a group from Arbortext with a consumer-oriented off-the-shelf software company like Quark interesting things are bound to emerge. They could be calamitous; they could be fascinating.

Quark’s Dynamic Publishing is fascinating to me for several reasons. First, it recognizes (finally) that print is no longer the sheriff in this town — the Web shot the sheriff. Second, it fully embraces that publishing is a content-centric endeavor, and the particular output medium is secondary to the content (for traditional publishers — Facebook is another story!). Of great importance in this announcement is that Quark has become the first big-time software publisher that appears to appreciate that the XML in Office 2007 can and should be fully exploited in contemporary publishing workflows.

Finally the technology acknowledges that the future of authoring is the assembly of what I call RCOs (reusable content objects — Quark calls them “content components”). I define RCOs as “the smallest content blocks which have discernible meaning.” These blocks have to be assembled in very different ways depending on the output medium, and few cross-media publishing systems appear to have a clue about how important this has become to authoring.

OK, Quark Dynamic Publishing is just an announcement so far, but it’s got more good ideas built into it than anything I’ve heard about in months.