Prepress: Having the right tools for business

This article was first published in the November 2020 issue of AP – By Cherri International proprietor and director Mark Wren

The prepress market is faced with an industry where players are cutting costs down. In addition to that, faster use, easy and seamless integration, and versatility are just some of the main features that prepress players are increasingly looking for when it comes to picking a good prepress solution in the market.

Cherri International has two separate solutions that deliver on this need –QuarkXPress and Affinity Software.

Cherri International itself is a Queensland owned and operated business that has been established for more than 28 years. We are the sole Australian distributor for Affinity Software, Canvas X and Canvas X CADComposer, and are the co-distributor for QuarkXPress.

We supply industry standard software to printers, graphic designers, advertising agencies, architects, photographers, universities, and K12 educational. 

QuarkXPress is a non-subscription alternative to Adobe software, and can be easily interfaced with new and existing equipment. Adobe software is fantastic, but the fact that it’s subscription only and costs increase every time you renew is not attractive to a printer or those in the prepress space.

QuarkXPress offers a variety of features which are so much more versatile. Its interface is very clean to use and not clustered. You are able to convert a template for print over to an e-book with just a couple of clicks. You can preview online and see exactly what you are getting. You are also able to create press-ready PDFs out of the program itself.

Having the same software that does print and prepress, as well as e-books, digital and websites is a huge advantage. The solution isn’t a cloud-based program but that’s a huge edge because it doesn’t have to sync into the cloud before you use it. QuarkXPress allows conversion of InDesign files.

As for Affinity Software, it is developed by Serif (Europe) Limited, a UK based company, established in 1987, which have developed a suite of non-subscription Adobe alternatives for PC/Mac.

Affinity Software caters for the beginner or the professional. The multi-award winning software allows photo, design or publication creation whether for Facebook, LinkedIn, newsletters, brochures or books. Affinity Photo works with all photo types – whether from a mobile phone, digital camera or scanner. Affinity Software is user-friendly, yet powerful and incorporates special effects features, such as moving people, animals and objects from a photograph.

Affinity Photo is non-subscription based software that has been described as a Photoshop alternative.
It is compatible with a variety of common file formats including Adobe, Photoshop, PSD, PNG, TIFF, JPG, and GIF, amongst others.

Affinity Designer is one of the fastest, smoothest, most precise vector graphic design software available. The application can create logos as well as open and edit Portable Document Format (PDF), Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Illustrator files.

Affinity Publisher is a desktop publishing application incorporating StudioLink technology.Some of our Newspaper and Magazine Customers with QuarkXPress and Affinity include Manilla Express, Boonah Newspaper Co and East Gippsland Newspapers. And the number of printers we have supplied to, I’m starting to lose count.

All of these users have mentioned a simple transition when adopting the Affinity software and the current versions of QuarkXPress software as new users, or have been using the software for a long time and have reaped the benefits of their evolving features and functionality.

But what existing users of this software need to be aware of, is that the requirements from 20 years ago are radically different to those of today. They’re completely different as the technologies have changed since then as have the businesses themselves.

Quark 2017, for instance, gave users the ability to edit your photos. Quark purchased a company named Callas in 2018 and added that into Quark, enabling users the ability to produce press-ready PDF files straight out of the program.

I have been doing software testing for over 25 years and from a features point of view, these solutions are unrivalled.

I work with the software developers and programmers at Quark in the US and Serif in the UK. If any users contact to me with any ideas on what upgrades they would like to see in future versions, I can pass on that message directly to these businesses for them to be considered.

This means the users get the features that they want or need more quickly, as opposed to other software, where you will have to wait longer for updates that you want because these businesses have multiple layers for approvals to go through.

In addition, these businesses do not have complex call systems or ticketing call systems, so if there are any queries or issues, there isn’t a long wait for them to be sorted.

To see any printer or prepress house grow is a good sign for the industry and going through uncertain times, especially now with COVID, it’s more important than ever to be ahead of the prepress curve and have the right and necessary tools for business.  

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