Many companies have been considering the conversion from QuarkXpress to InDesign and I suspect a few have gone the other way. The battle between the two is sometimes intense. There is even a site devoted to that battle Quark Vs InDesign. Working in tangent with InDesign are two other applications that companies are considering Version Cue and the latest InCopy. Version Cue is simply versioning and a means of networking design work. InCopy is a content editor program that links to InDesign documents.

InCopy has only been available since the release of CS but people are just now getting to know about it. For experienced users it doesn't take long to see how it works. It looks similar to InDesign but without a lot of the options which is the purpose of the program. InCopy users can edit the text of an assigned content area and the InDesign document can be updated to include the current content.

When reviewing InCopy I only saw a few potential problems. The check-in check-out system can be initially confusing. For one you can open and view a file without checking it out. Also possibly confusing are the assignments and the content areas. Content areas are the elements that make up an assignment although you can edit content areas that aren't part of an assignment. With each assignment though you have to check-in check-out each content area. Once you figure it out it is logical and flexible. If you establish a standard workflow the confusion shouldn't be an issue.

Another potential problem with InCopy is the unpredictable UnDo and the frequent alert prompts. Many Adobe users are used to being able to make edits save make more edits and still UnDo back to the beginning before the save. With InCopy you can also do that but once you check-in a file you can't undo to a state before the check-in. In fact that's an InDesign issue too since any content areas must be checked out in InDesign too.

One of the cool things about InCopy that some executives may enjoy is that with InCopy you can open InDesign files even though there may not be any editable content areas. This would allow you to review the actual file design without having the power to edit or destroy it.

One other feature of this system that needs some enhancements is the use of InDesign/InCopy notes for content areas. This can be useful for execs to pass information back and forth to designers. The enhancement that it needs is in that the Notes palette doesn't initially show any of the notes.

QuarkXpress hasn't fallen behind on the concept of multi-user content editing though. With Quark 7 composition zones were introduced which allows a designer to assign certain parts of a layout for editing by others. It's not as powerful not as confusing and not as expensive. InCopy must be purchased separately.

Quark is battling for survival in their area while Adobe is looking to totally dominate the design software market. The battle between the two page layout giants is fascinating and best of all page layout software users are enjoying the spoils of war. On the downside When the battle is over we will probably be the biggest losers. Such is the nature of monopoly.

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