Quark announced this week that its previous customers, going back to version 3, will be eligible for an upgrade to QuarkXPress 9 for US$349. The non-upgrade price is $849.

Likely targeting the recent release of Adobe Creative Suite 6, Gavin Drake, Vice President of Marketing at Quark says: “We release major versions of QuarkXPress about every two years and unlike many other vendors, provide free, feature-rich updates regularly within release cycles. Assuming a user upgrades on the two-year cycle, an upgrade price of $349 brings the cost of owning version 9 to as low as $14.50 per month – and users own the software once they’ve upgraded, which means no long-term financial commitments.”

Users with a valid, registered and activated serial number for any version of QuarkXPress is eligible for the offer. QuarkXPress 3 was first released in 1990.

Adobe Systems has formally announced its CS6 suite of software, which includes a new subscription service. The new version is scheduled to be available within 30 days.

The service, known as Creative Cloud, costs $75 a month (or $50 per month with an annual membership, all prices in US$). Current CS3 to CS5.5 users are eligible for an introductory price of $30 per month. Creative Cloud users also get online storage and sharing capabilities as well as ongoing updates and new products (such as Adobe Edge, a HTML5 development tool) as they are released.

Of course, CS6 applications can be purchased the traditional way, with the Master Collection to retail for $2,599. The CS6 Design & Web Premium will retail for $1,899 while the Design Standard suite will go for $1,299. Upgrade pricing starts at $275 for Design Standard, and goes up to $549 for the Master Collection for current CS5.5 users ($699 to $1,399 for CS3/CS4 users).

New features for CS6 include:

Interface and performance revamps to take advantage of hardware acceleration
Expanded content-aware technologies (including the much-hyped Content Aware Move)
Adaptive Wide-Angle, to straighten distorted images
Skin-tone-aware selections and masking

New image tracing engine
Pattern creation tool
Application of gradients to strokes

Alternate Layout feature for designing the same document for multiple media
Content Collector Tool, which allows users to grab content from existing layouts for repurposing
Linked Content, for syncing content across documents

Premiere Pro
Hover Scrub clip handling
Advance trimming tools
New adjustment layers that can be applied to multiple clips

Adobe Systems is providing a preview of what's to come in its popular Photoshop program with the release of a free beta. The final release is expected this summer.

“Photoshop CS6 will be a milestone release that pushes the boundaries of imaging innovation with incredible speed and performance,” said Winston Hendrickson, Vice President Products, Creative Media Solutions, Adobe. “We couldn’t wait to share this beta of Photoshop CS6 with our customers and are looking forward to hearing from them and seeing the ways they are incorporating the beta into their daily creative workflows.”

Most notable of the new features are Content-Aware Patch, which allows users to select and duplicate an area of the image to fill in another, and Content-Aware Move, which lets users select and move subjects in a photo, with CS6 filling in the missing background.

Photoshop CS6 for Mac requires a 64-bit operating system. This move follows Apple's decision to end 32-bit support in its latest OS X 10.7 Lion operating system. CS6 will also require a mulit-core computer (Core2Duo and above) on Apple machines.

For the PC version, Photoshop CS6 will run on single core CPUs on 32-bit systems, although Adobe has dropped official support for Windows Vista systems.

Ottawa-based Corel has announced it has launched the latest version of its flagship graphics suite. The package includes a completely revamped typography engine, new page layout capabilities and native 64-bit and multi-core processor support.

"Our CorelDRAW community consistently inspires us with their creativity and versatility. Our members play a central role in helping us determine the essential features and enhancements that will help to accelerate the design process while enabling them to showcase their true design style,"” said John Falsetto, Senior Product Manager for CorelDRAW. “"We want to provide our users with all of the tools and options they need to be as creative and productive as possible so that they can share their vision and inspire others through their work.”"

New features include:
- Advanced OpenType Support: Create beautiful text with advanced OpenType typography features, such as contextual and stylistic alternates, ligatures, ornaments, swash variants, and more.
- New Custom-built Color Harmonies: Modify colors collectively in a harmony and analyze colors and hues to deliver complementary color schemes.
- New Native 64-bit and Enhanced Multi-Core Support: Quickly process files and images up to 50% faster than before.
- New Creative Vector Shaping tools: Creatively add effects using four new vector shaping tools – Smear, Twirl, Attract and Repel.
- New Styles Engine and Docker: Format with speed and simplify the creation, application, and management of styles for consistent formatting across multiple objects. 
- New Website Creator™ X6: Build and manage websites with ease using the Site Wizard, templates, drag-and-drop functionality and seamless integration with XHTML, CSS, JavaScript, and XML.
- New Smart Carver™: Remove unwanted areas from an image while simultaneously maintaining the photo’s aspect ratio.
- Improved Page Layout Capabilities: Create design layouts with ease using new and improved Master Layer functionality, Alignment Guides, Interactive frames and much more.
- Redesigned Object Properties Docker: Save time, fine-tune designs and get access to the object settings in one centralized location.

In North America, the full version of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite X6 is $499 and the upgrade is available for $199.

Adobe has launched the latest version of its Lightroom software, which is aimed at professional and enthusiast photographers. In a surprise move, the software is being offered at half the cost of the previous version. Lightroom 4 is US$149 for the full version, with the upgrade version being only US$79.
“Feedback from our customers is invaluable in developing Lightroom and the real trick to a great release is to combine these insights with Adobe’s unrivalled image processing innovation,” said Winston Hendrickson, vice president products, Creative Media Solutions, Adobe. “Lightroom 4 is a stunning new release that will enhance photography workflows and help photographs stand out from the crowd.” 
The new version contains the ability for photographers to lay out photo books, which can either be exported as PDFs or be sent to San Francisco-based photo book printer Blurb. According to Blurb, during the Lightroom 4 beta, which commenced at the start of the year, more than 1,000 people created photo books using the built-in tool.

“We’re thrilled to see the response from customers, on both the Blurb and the Adobe side,” said Eileen Gittins, Founder and CEO, Blurb. “The Lightroom 4 integration has enabled us to reach a whole new set of professional and enthusiast photographers who are just now discovering Blurb for the first time. The feedback from this discriminating group has been consistent: they are blown away by the quality we offer.”

Lightroom 4 also introduces a new soft proofing feature which allows photographer to anticipate how their images will appear printed on different stocks and different colour gamuts. Different printer profiles can be created and loaded into the system.

Layout giant Quark announced it has launched a new Software as a Service designed for collaboration of sales and marketing teams through templates. It will be powered by Microsoft's Azure cloud technology.

Designers convert QuarkXPress and InDesign documents into Quark Brand Manager templates that can then be approved by marketing and customized by field teams through a simple Web interface. According to Quark, with its Brand Manager service, marketing teams are able to:

- Reduce by up to 50 percent the time it takes to create templates for brand-compliant collateral
- Reduce by up to 90 percent the time it takes field teams to deliver customized collateral to consumers
- Significantly decrease costs by eliminating the need for on-premise infrastructure

“Quark entered the brand management solutions market early with our QuarkXPress Server technology. Now, with Microsoft, we’re taking an early lead to leverage the Cloud so that dispersed marketing and sales teams can maintain their most valuable differentiator – their brand,” said Ray Schiavone, Quark President and CEO. “As marketing departments take control of budget that was once allocated to IT teams, effective and affordable global Cloud-based solutions like Quark Brand Manager will become required resources.”

Adobe Systems released a public beta of its upcoming Lightroom 4 software. Lightroom is software aimed at the professional photography segment and allows its users to process, manage, enhance and showcase their images.

“Giving early customer access to new versions of Lightroom has helped our team deliver an outstanding battle-tested product that really stands up to the demands of photographers worldwide,” said Winston Hendrickson, Vice President of Digital Imaging Products, Adobe. “The much anticipated release of Lightroom 4 beta continues this tradition and shows how much Adobe values customer insights into photography workflows.”

New features for version 4 include:

All new basic tonal adjustment controls
Native video support
New local adjustment controls (Nose reduction, Moire, and white balance)
Templates for quick creation of photo books.
Map module to take advantage of location tagged photos
New soft proofing tools to ensure content looks its best whether in print or online

Lightroom 4 Beta is available immediately for both Windows and Mac platforms. The release date of the final version has not been announced.

Quebec-based Dynagram is releasing a new imposition tool which will have a retail price of under $400.

"Why," asks CEO Francois Guerard, "if we are now able to give people technology and a price that will make them successful, must we hold back because of old industry habits that are outdated and greedy? We need to encourage new business owners, investors, and students of design and printing to avail themselves of the best products, to keep publishing alive and progressive in these changing times."

inpO2 Wizard is based on the proven inpO2 software and, according to the company, contains features common to high-end imposition tools. Imposition styles include saddle stitch, perfect bound, advanced step and repeat, cut and stack, and N-Up. Utilizing the Wizard interface within Acrobat, users can create anything from simple printer spreads for digital printing, to more complex folded layouts with press and sheet marks such as slug lines and side guides for offset printing.

With the inpO2 Wizard, users can impose PDF documents of any length based on different layout styles and selecting from a library of layouts (onto just about any sheet size with required press and sheet marks needed). Marks supported include crop, trim, center and corner marks, along with side guides and text marks. In addition, the step and repeat jobs can be simple multiple up of a single page, or multiple jobs can be step and repeated in rows or columns for easy finishing.

"We've been seeing an increase in requirements for an entry level imposition product for digital and entry level offset," says Guerard. "The new inpO2 Wizard is designed to address the needs of these markets by providing many powerful features, with a simple to use interface at a great price point."

Adobe is drawing the ire of some of its users by only offering upgrade pricing for its CS5 and CS5.5 users for the upcoming Creative Suite 6. Up until now, upgrade pricing applied for several previous versions, for example, the current Creative Suite 5.5 upgrade pricing is extended as far as users of Creative Suite 2.

The move, announced by Adobe Senior Vice President David Wadhwani on a blog post, is seen to push individual users toward the company's new subscription model, and to drive a more stable revenue stream. The company recently fired 750 employees and discontinued development of the mobile Flash platform. The company will be introducing, in 2012, Adobe Creative Cloud, which will allow users to access its tools for US$49.99 for individuals ($69.99 per seat for workgroups) per month, paid annually, or $US600 a year. A non-Cloud subscription model was introduced with CS5.5 (currently priced between US$65 to US$129 per month, depending on the particular package).

Scott Kelby, President of the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, wrote an open letter protesting the move.

"Those users who didn’t upgrade to CS5 or 5.5, either couldn’t afford the upgrade, or couldn’t justify the upgrade, or they would already be on CS5 or 5.5," wrote Kelby. "But now you’re kind of holding us hostage — you’re making us buy something we don’t need now, just so we will still have the option to get something that we may want (CS6) when it is released without buying it all over again from scratch. You’re playing hardball with your customers—either upgrade twice or you’re out. That’s not the Adobe we know."

Kelby also offered a compromise: "If you really want to be fair to your customers, at the very least don’t start this policy yet. Start it with Photoshop CS7. Make CS6 your new upgrade pricing transition version, and tell everybody now, up front at — the start of the product’s life cycle, that everybody will need to upgrade to CS6 at some point because the next version (CS7) won’t support older users."

Australia-based Lithotechnics has announced it has sold the 1,000th license for its Metrix job ganging software through Fujifilm North America. 

"We are extremely proud to reach this significant milestone," said Rohan Hold, Founder of Lithotechnics. "It's very gratifying to think that at any one moment, up to 1,000 people worldwide are using Metrix to do their work."

Version 1.0 of Metrix was released in 2004 and has since been sold across 22 countries in five languages. 

"[...]Printers are seeking strategies that allow them to grow their business and maximize their manufacturing potential without increasing direct labor costs," said Bryan Hughes, Product Marketing Manager at Fujifilm North America. "Metrix is a product that dramatically improves efficiency and provides a repository of manufacturing knowledge, enabling less-skilled workers to be extremely productive. Metrix can be a key component in this strategy."

Agfa Graphics has developed cloud-based production software specifically for newspaper companies, called :Arkitex Eversify, which will be available to publishers by mid-2012 in Europe, followed later by North America and the rest of the world.

:Arkitex Eversify allows publishers to deliver newspapers to a range of tablet and smart mobile devices, based on the use of HTML5, which handles advanced image handling, audio and video animation. As well, embedded Javascript allows search, bookmarks, and access to online tools like Facebook and Twitter.

“Publishers are in the content business. Just as Agfa Graphics has helped them get their content on plates and finally on paper, with :Arkitex Eversify we can convert their content to a mobile platform. E-media and print will coexist,” stated Jeff Cord of the newspaper software group at Agfa Graphics. “Our solution will allow newspapers to make money from e-media without having to make a large investment in technology and personnel.

“The beauty of :Arkitex Eversify is that there is no interruption to the everyday production process. It uses the newspaper’s existing methods for print production.”

Michigan-based Xitron announced the latest release of its Navigator Workflow 5 software, which is based on the Harlequin RIP version 9. 

"Xitron is committed to ongoing development to meet the demands of our prepress workflow customers," stated Mark Eisenschenk, Xitron's President and Chief Executive Officer. "The Navigator Workflow for Harlequin RIP users has become one of the most popular workflows, with thousands of installations worldwide."

Navigator Workflow 5 incorporates new productivity-enhancing features, including:

- Ripped content proofs to any Windows print driver
- Integrated media savings
- ROOM Proof PDF Export
- Automated database backup

The Navigator v9 Harlequin RIP provides:

- Support for Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit operating systems
- Increased optimization for PDFs with transparencies
- Extended PDF/X support
- Support for the Pantone Plus library
- Enhanced resolution support for the HXM hybrid screening option
- 64-bit Windows drivers for Xitron USB interfaces
- Simple out-of-the-box colour accuracy for GRACoL, SWOP, and Fogra printing conditions with Epson and Canon proofers and graphic arts printers
- Interfaces for more than 250 output devices, including proofers, CtP systems, inkjet, direct imaging presses, and production printers

Navigator Elite Workflow includes extensive user-requested capabilities, including:

- User-controllable job management and ticketing capabilities
- Integrated soft proofing
- Output device control and feedback at operator workstations
- PDF creation and preflighting
- Ink remapping
- Imposition integration with Dynagram inpO2
- Scriptable hot folders
- TIFF job grouping
- Press ink key Calculation with KeySetter option

Shipments of the latest Navigator workflow will begin later in the fourth quarter this year.

Ricoh Americas has announced it will be demonstrating two new software products aimed at the production printing segment at Graph Expo next week.

Named TotalFlow MR and TotalFlow PM (for Make-Ready and Print Manager respectively), the software will help owners of Ricoh Pro printers increase productivity. Capabilities include print preparation, editing, numbering, watermarking, clean-up, finishing, job management, load balancing, archiving, search and reprinting.

"We are aggressively leveraging our product knowledge to develop software that takes full advantage of the industry's most advanced printing engine," said Tim Vellek, Vice President, Production Printing Business Group, Ricoh Americas Corporation. "The software automates the processes that directly enhance the speed, ease, flexibility, accuracy and quality of the Ricoh production printing experience."

TotalFlow MR and TotalFlow PM will be available in late November.

EFI’s Fiery print servers now natively support Pantone LLC’s PANTONE PLUS colour specifications. EFI was the first vendor to implement PANTONE Calibration for colour devices and has now expanded its built-in colour libraries to include PANTONE PLUS colours.
Fiery servers come preloaded with PANTONE Color Libraries, including all colours found in the PANTONE PLUS SERIES. “Eliminating guesswork and costs associated with reworking printing projects is a key component to running a successful printing business,” said Andy Hatkoff, VP of Technology Licensing for Pantone. “By incorporating PANTONE PLUS on Fiery servers, customers are guaranteed to get spot colours that are accurate and consistent for all jobs.”
With Fiery Spot-On for Fiery servers, users can match colour accurately and modify corresponding CMYK values to produce desired “in gamut” colours. Spot-On also allows users to print entire spot-colour libraries, which are delivered as industry-standard named colour ICC profiles.

Quark has released the latest version of its publishing platform which services to automate the production of content to various form of media.

"Quark Publishing System has evolved to be a flexible and powerful publishing platform for all types of organizations who need to streamline their publishing processes while delivering engaging information to multiple types of media including print, Web, and digital. Our customers in financial services, manufacturing, and many other industries are choosing Quark Publishing System to create marketing collateral, technical documentation, white papers, investment research reports, and other communications," said PG Bartlett, Senior VP of Product Management for Quark.

One of the new features is advanced remote access through Quark's Web Hub module, which allows external content creators and editors to work remotely from a Web browser in a WYSIWYG format. According to Quark, Version 9 also offers improved flexibility with its Collections tool, which includes features like grouping related assets, sharing workflows, routing rules, and the JDF-based Job Jackets protocol.

The system also contains expanded digital publishing capabilities, including the XML-based ePUB format.

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