Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 Customer Solution Case Study
Desktop Publishing Innovator Taps into Huge Market with Flexible Publishing Solution
Country or Region: United States Industry: Professional services–Software engineering Customer Profile Quark makes desktop and enterprise publishing software used to design and publish communications across a variety of media. The privately held company is based in Denver, Colorado. Business Situation Quark wanted to provide small and midsize businesses with an easy-to-use, affordable publishing platform that combines the best of locally installed software and Web services. Solution Quark chose to use a range of Microsoft® development tools to create Quark Promote, a complete publishing solution for small and midsized businesses. Benefits Rich tools help deliver enterprise-level features Desktop and online applications provide seamless user experience Flexibility allows for third-party participants Solution opens large market for Quark
―The Microsoft tools allowed us to create a solution that enables an entire community of publishing and design experts to work directly with small businesses.‖
Michael Corbett, General Manager for Quark Promote™, Quark
Quark, which creates software used to design print and digital publications, wanted to expand beyond its traditional professional design and corporate customer base to reach small and midsize businesses. To tackle the challenge, Quark decided to use Microsoft® products and technologies, including the Microsoft Visual Studio® development system, Microsoft SQL Server® 2005 database management software, the Microsoft .NET Framework, and Microsoft Expression Blend™ design software. The result, called Quark Promote, is a free, easy-to-use software application that lets users customize professionally designed templates to produce their own promotional materials. It is open to a wide range of third parties—including professional printers and, soon, graphic designers—and provides a compelling offering that helps Quark push into a large market.
―With other technologies, we would have had to invest many more months of development resources, but the rich and integrated Microsoft technologies have helped us get the solution to market quickly.‖
Dave White, Vice President of Alliances and Emerging Technology, Quark
Quark is one of the leading companies in the field of desktop publishing. After it was founded in 1981, one of the company’s first products was QuarkXPress®, which helped transform publishing by providing desktop computer software that could perform tasks such as precision typography, layout, and color control for all types of publications. The privately held company, which has more than 3 million customers using its products in 260 countries and 30 languages, is based in Denver, Colorado, and has offices in Europe, Japan, and India. In addition to continually updating its QuarkXPress software—now in its eighth version—the company also offers Quark Dynamic Publishing Solution (Quark DPS®). Quark DPS is designed for enterprises that need to efficiently produce numerous publications, whether in print, on the Web, or in other media. Quark DPS provides a number of integrated desktop PC, server, and Web technologies that let organizations reuse content, graphics, and other publishing material to streamline publishing workflows. While Quark DPS has been a success in government, pharmaceutical, news media, and other industries with enterprise-scale publishing requirements, Quark management realized that there was another large market that could use a publishing solution adapted to its specific needs. ―There are about 28 million small businesses in the United States,‖ says Michael Corbett, General Manager for Quark Promote. ―They don’t have marketing departments, nor is there a designer in the business or someone with the design skills to produce flyers, postcards, and other materials that the business needs to promote itself successfully. Moreover, creating marketing materials for many of these businesses includes many one-off instances, such as for a single promotion or special offer.‖
Corbett notes the key problem in these scenarios: Materials aren’t saved or managed in an efficient way, so people end up starting from scratch whenever they need a new promotional piece. The result is an inconsistent, patchwork effect that costs too much money, takes too much time, and reduces the impact smaller businesses could otherwise achieve with some affordable design and marketing know-how at their disposal. The challenge for Quark was to find a development platform that could deliver rich features and functionality. Quark wanted to offer a solution that combined the best features of desktop software with Web-based services—and do it in a way that would allow a single user to produce promotional materials in a few easy steps. The goal was to provide businesses with local control over files and branding so that they are not entirely dependent on Internet connections to customize and manage their publications as they are with solutions that exist solely on the Web. The challenge for Quark was to find a development platform that could deliver rich features and functionality. At the same time, the solution needed to have the flexibility and scalability of Web-based technologies to allow for quick modifications in the product to respond to user needs and requests. Additionally, Quark wanted a platform that would allow its development team to quickly design new features or modify existing functions based on user feedback.
Quark decided to create its new solution— which it called Quark Promote—using a number of integrated Microsoft® development tools that run on the Windows Server® 2008 operating system. These include:
―After examining the different kinds of tools we could have used, we felt that the project would be feasible only if we used the latest Microsoft products.‖
Dave White, Vice President of Alliances and Emerging Technology, Quark
Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 (SP1), a managed-code programming environment used for building applications on Windows®-based client computers, servers, and mobile or embedded devices. The Microsoft Visual Studio® 2008 development system, which provided the core development tools used by Quark for the project. Windows Workflow Foundation (WWF), which provides a programming model, programming engine, and tools for creating the publishing workflow functionality in Quark Promote. Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), a subset of the .NET Framework that uses a Web services architecture for connecting the various components of Quark Promote. Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), also a subset of the .NET Framework, which provides the tools for clearly separating the user interface from the business logic of Quark Promote. Microsoft Expression Blend™ design software, used for creating and blending graphical interfaces for both Web and desktop applications. Microsoft SQL Server® 2005 database management software, which is used for managing customer and publication data. Internet Information Services (IIS) version 7.0, used for delivering the Web services within Quark Promote. ClickOnce, a deployment technology that Quark is using to create self-updating, Windows-based applications that can be installed on an end user’s computer and run with minimal interaction required from Quark Promote users.
templates and print them in a variety of ways at affordable prices, all from within the Quark Promote software. The solution also is designed so that users can output their marketing materials to a variety of delivery channels. The initial September 2009 release includes print and e-mail. Future plans include Web templates to carry the user’s selected design to the Web.
Quark Promote combines the best of both local (desktop) and online computing resources to provide an innovative publishing application for small and midsize businesses. By adopting a Microsoft development platform, Quark took advantage of a range of rich tools that connect small business users with neighborhood printers and graphic designers, creating a community that generates mutual success. The flexibility of Quark Promote makes it possible for third parties to communicate and exchange services online with Quark Promote customers and with Quark. The solution is also helping Quark penetrate a large market to broaden its business reach. Rich Tools Help Deliver Enterprise-Level Features Dave White, Vice President of Alliances and Emerging Technology at Quark, says that only the Microsoft development environment could deliver the tight integration and rich tools that the company needed to develop and launch Quark Promote. ―After examining the different kinds of tools we could have used, we felt that the project would be feasible only if we used the latest Microsoft products,‖ he says. ―With other technologies, we would have had to invest many more months of development resources, but the rich and integrated Microsoft technologies have helped us get the solution to market quickly.‖
To use Quark Promote, users download and install the free Quark Promote software. Quark Promote gives them access to an array of templates, preformatted design elements, and other tools for producing their marketing material. Users can easily customize
―The Microsoft technologies helped us design and host a complete publishing solution that is easy enough for one end user to manage and that provides the user with control over content and design templates."
Michael Corbett, General Manager for Quark Promote, Quark
For example, the process of communicating through Web services involves using the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), which provides a foundation for the Web services messaging framework. ―One of the biggest payoffs in using the Microsoft tools was the Windows Communication Foundation, which eliminated the need for us to create our own SOAP code to call the Web services used in Quark Promote,‖ says Klavs Miller, Director of Software Development at Quark. Miller also credits the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Microsoft Expression design software with expediting development work. ―Windows Presentation Foundation allowed us to create various effects, like animation and transitions, in a matter of weeks, when it would have taken months of coding. And using Expression Blend, it literally took just a few minutes to get certain effects because of the built-in templates and ease of use. The Microsoft tools contributed huge time savings, which allowed us to work more efficiently and get the solution to market faster.‖ Flexibility Allows for Third-Party Participants The flexibility of the solution gives both Quark and end users the ability to integrate various third-party services, such as outputting files to local printing companies and calculating tax on the services. ―One of the functions we needed was the ability to perform tax calculations when a customer orders prints by mail through Quark Promote,‖ says Miller. ―We created a Web service that communicates with a third-party provider to perform the tax calculations. It’s done very fast, with the results returned to the user in a matter of seconds as they are getting ready to pay for their order.‖ With its broad reach in both the graphic design and professional printing communities, Quark also plans on creating an
online Quark Promote community to encourage interaction between users and vendors, such as small design shops that want to provide fee-based services. ―One of our goals in designing Quark Promote was to create an entire ecosystem around the publishing environment that includes professional designers and printers who have services to offer to small businesses,‖ says Corbett. ―The Microsoft tools allowed us to create a solution that enables an entire community of publishing and design experts to work directly with small businesses. Even high-end agencies that have designers with a little spare time can tap into this channel with a low investment that could bring a high return.‖ Solution Opens Large Market The biggest benefit for Quark is its ability to push deeper into a large and potentially revenue-rich market using Quark Promote. ―There is certainly competition in this space, and we’re confident that Quark Promote will offer a complete set of features and services that no one else can match,‖ says Corbett. ―The Microsoft technologies helped us design and host a complete publishing solution that is easy enough for one end user to manage and that provides the user with control over content and design templates. It allows us to bring our expertise in both professional design software and enterprise publishing to a huge market.‖ ―The Microsoft development tools helped us bring all the pieces together—the user interface, the business rules, and the services that link the components together,‖ Miller adds. ―We wanted to create a turnkey solution. The Microsoft tools allowed us to do this.‖
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 4269400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada Information Centre at (877) 5682495. Customers who are deaf or hard-ofhearing can reach Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234 in the United States or (905) 568-9641 in Canada. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information using the World Wide Web, go to: www.microsoft.com For more information about Quark products and services, call (303) 894-8888 or visit the Web site at: www.quark.com
Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5
Microsoft .NET Framework version 3.5 is the managed-code programming model for developing software on the Windows operating system platform. .NET Framework 3.5 includes Windows Presentation Foundation, Windows Communication Foundation, Windows Workflow Foundation, Windows CardSpace™ identity selector, and other technologies. It provides a consistent and familiar development experience, bringing new technology to the millions of developers programming in managed code today. For more information about .NET Framework 3.5, please go to: www.microsoft.com/netframework
Software and Services
Products − Microsoft Visual Studio − Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 − Microsoft Expression Blend − Microsoft Server Product Portfolio − Microsoft SQL Server 2005
Technologies − Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 − Internet Information Services 7.0 − Windows Workflow Foundation − Windows Presentation Foundation − ClickOnce deployment − Web services
This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY. Document published June 2009