The best publishing software: Adobe InDesign CC vs. QuarkXPress 2017 vs. Epsillion Publisher 2

11 January 2018

logos of InDesign, QuarkXPress, and Epsillion

Introduction

Let's be honest: we are tiny bit biased toward thinking Epsillion Publisher 2 is the best publishing software available.

But, realistically, Epsillion Publisher 2 is not for everyone. We think Adobe InDesign CC and QuarkXPress 2017 are great tools and the best choice for some users. We know that everybody has different needs and skills, and the right software depends on the person and company.

Below, we set out the nine questions you should ask yourself to choose the best publishing software for you.

Executive summary

If you make dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of documents with the same style (same colors, logos, margins, and fonts) but with different content, have no design experience, and you want to publish to PDF, websites, and emails with a click or two, Epsillion Publisher 2 is right for you.

If every document you make has a different style (that is, a unique set of colors, margins, logos, and fonts), you are willing to hire a skilled designer, and your main priority is PDFs, then you should choose Adobe InDesign CC or QuarkXPress 2017.

Now to the nine questions you should ask yourself...

1. Do I need to comply with my company's brand and style rules?

Epsillion Publisher 2 has a hard-wired template behind the scenes. That guarantees that your documents will adhere to your company’s brand and style guidelines, with no effort on your part.

Adobe InDesign CC and QuarkXpress 2017 have hundreds of configurable options. That flexibility is great when you need it, but it means a design professional will need to take care to adhere to your corporate brand and style.

2. How much time can I spend on training?

Every program takes at least some practice to learn. Some are relatively simple, and take a few minutes to grasp, while others can take months or years.

Epsillion Publisher tends to take about 20 to 30 minutes to learn. Because you only need to worry about your content, while the style is pre-programmed in the background, there are only a handful of buttons you will need to get to grips with. All are content-related (like how to add a section of text). Once you learn those, you’re off to the races.

Adobe InDesign CC and QuarkXPress 2017 tend to require months if not years of experience to master hundreds of buttons and design options. This gives amazing power to seasoned professionals, who can create fantastic designs and adjust them on-the-fly. Even if you are simply adding content to a professional’s design, you will need to know something about the large panel of buttons in front of you. People without design experience are likely to experience steep learning curves with Adobe InDesign CC and QuarkXPress 2017.

3. How good are my design skills?

We’ve seen a lot of documents. Some are great, some terrible. To avoid terrible results, you need to match your experience to your tools.

Epsillion Publisher 2 requires no design experience. You can use Epsillion’s default template or buy custom templates -- either way, you don’t need a shred of design experience to benefit from great design. The downside is that you are restricted to the default template or the custom templates you buy, and you can’t make design adjustments on-the-fly.

Adobe InDesign CC and QuarkXPress 2017 are hugely powerful, have hundreds of configurable options, and let you can make style adjustments on the fly. Want to change the fonts and colors? No problem. However, the complexity of these programs means that you need at least a couple of years experience and knowledge of design principles to use them effectively. An experienced designer can do amazing things with InDesign and QuarkXPress. An inexperienced person, on the other hand, will likely get amateurish results.

4. How much can I spend on designers?

Designers are expensive. You want to save money. Your choice of publishing platform—and the type of publishing you do—has important implications for your company’s budget.

Epsillion Publisher 2 is cost effective if you use the same template—a predefined set of colors, margins, logos, and fonts—over and over, because you only have to hire a designer once (or never if you use Epsillion’s default template). Someone with no design experience can re-use Epsillion templates thousands or even millions of times with different content in different places. However, if every document you make looks wildly different from the last, Epsillion Publisher won’t save you any money.

Adobe InDesign CCis flexible and powerful, with hundreds of configurable features. That means you can make any type of document imaginable, but it requires someone with at least a couple of years of experience to access its full potential. People without design experience who try to adapt or extend a professionally designed template often get amateurish results.

QuarkXPress 2017, like Adobe InDesign CC, is very powerful and allows for endless customisation. If you need a high degree of style flexibility in every document, and want to oversee the changes in-house, this can be a great option.

5. How much do I want to spend on software?

The all-important bottom-line!

Epsillion Publisher 2 costs $399 per year as of 11 January 2018. Professionally programmed templates cost $1,000 and up.

Adobe InDesign CC costs $239 per year as of 11 January 2018. Hiring a professional designer to create documents for you will often cost around $300 to $500 per day.

QuarkXPress 2017 costs $990 as a one-time fee as of 11 January 2018. Hiring a professional designer to create documents for you will often cost around $300 to $500 per day.

6. Do I want to be able to make changes right up to the publishing deadline?

“Lead time” is the amount of time you need to leave between preparing your content and preparing the designed version of your document. Shorter lead time is always better. How many times have you sent a “final” version of your document to the printers only to find a typo later? With shorter lead times, you have less deadline pressure, and more time to fix typos and perfect your content.

Epsillion Publisher 2 lets you publish the same moment you finish your content, because everything about your document’s style is hard coded in advance. Finish writing, press ‘Make PDF’, and you’re ready to email, print, and publish your document. That means you can edit your content right up until your publishing deadline.

Adobe InDesign CC and QuarkXPress 2017 users should allow their designers at least a day or two to perfect the layout after finishing the content, but the actual amount will depend on the designer. Consult with him or her to find out how much lead time you need to give.

7. Do I want a cloud-based or local solution?

Cloud solutions often give you faster and more frequent updates, as well as live tips, but require internet connectivity. Local solutions don’t require internet connectivity, but tend to be less frequently updated.

Epsillion Publisher 2 is a local installation used to write documents with cloud computing used to make them print-ready. Epsillion auto-updates whenever there is a bug fix or improvement. Epsillion staff monitor the documents, and reach out if they notice any possible improvements. The downside is that users must be connected to the internet to generate PDFs and webpages.

Adobe InDesign CC is a local installation, with cloud storage, that auto-updates whenever there is a bug fix or improvement. You can also store your files online and share them with colleagues. You must connect to the internet at least once every few months to validate your license.

QuarkXPress 2017 is a purely local installation. Some people like the sense of control this gives them. There can be a sense of truly owning the software.

7. Do I want a subscription plan or one-time fee?

There are pros and cons to both subscriptions and one-time payments. Some people like spreading payments out over time, while some people like to absorb the full amount right away and be done with it.

Epsillion Publisher 2 is a subscription product. The software auto-updates, so you always get the best and latest version of the software.

Adobe InDesign CC is a subscription product. It auto-updates, so you always get the best and latest version of the software.

QuarkXPress 2017 is has a one-time fee. You have access to the version you bought forever. This is exactly what some users need. However, when a new version of QuarkXPress is released, or you buy a new computer that isn’t compatible with your version of QuarkXPress, you will need to pay to upgrade to the latest version. This may not be as bad as it sounds, because users of older versions are often given good deals on the upgrade.

8. Do I use a lot of Excel data?

If your document has many tables, charts, or numbers that come from Excel, you will need to update your document when your Excel data changes.

Epsillion Publisher 2 updates your document to reflect the latest Excel tables, charts, and numbers with a single click. You can also swap spreadsheets entirely to get the same effect.

Adobe Indesign CC can update Excel tables in your report. However, you will need to manually tell InDesign which row is your header if you add rows to your Excel file. Adobe InDesign cannot auto-update charts or numbers in the main text based on Excel.

QuarkXPress 2017 does not support auto-updating charts, tables, or numbers from Excel.

9. Do I want to write once and publish on multiple platforms?

If you publish to multiple formats, like PDF, the web, and emails, you are probably familiar with copying and pasting content from one program to another and reformatting the same images over and over. It’s 2018; we should be past that.

Epsillion Publisher 2 lets you publish to PDF, the web, and emails with a click or two. After you write your content once in Microsoft Word, you can generate PDFs, HTML, and CSS files with no additional editing. You can immediately upload the HTML and CSS files to the web. You can also run them through Premailer (a 5 second process) and then use them with email marketing software like MailChimp or Constant Contact.

Adobe InDesign CC is best at making PDFs. It can export HTML and CSS files, but in our experience these files have many errors. you can’t simply upload these to the web or email marketing software like MailChimp or Constant Contact without significant editing. You need knowledge of HTML and CSS to make them usable.

QuarkXPress 2017 lets you create PDFs, and you can create an HTML page by creating a duplicate of your layout and setting it to be a Digital Layout. This is not as streamlined as Epsillion Publisher, but it will get the job done.

Summary

Epsillion Publisher 2 is a good choice if you:

  1. make dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of documents with the same style (same colors, logos, margins, and fonts) but with different content
  2. have no design experience
  3. want to publish to PDF, websites, and emails with a click or two

Adobe InDesign CC is a good choice if you:

  1. want a different style (that is, a unique set of colors, margins, logos, and fonts) for every document
  2. are willing to hire a skilled designer
  3. mostly want to make PDFs

QuarkXPress 2017 is a good choice if you:

  1. want a similar feature set to Adobe InDesign CC
  2. Prefer a one-time purchase rather than a subscription plan

Glossary

  • Adobe InDesign CC: the most popular typography, layout, and publishing tool.
  • Cloud: remote servers that offer storage and processing power to your local computer, tablet, or phone.
  • CSS: cascading style sheets, or CSS, give webpages their look-and-feel, including colors, margins, and borders.
  • Epsillion Publisher 2: the insurgent typography, layout, and publishing tool.
  • HTML: hypertext markup language, or HTML, tells web browsers what content to display.
  • QuarkXPress 2017: the second most popular typography, layout, and publishing tool, after Adobe InDesign.
  • Template: a predefined set of colors, margins, logos, and fonts.
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