TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Introduction to Scripting QuarkXPress

Volume Number: 22 (2006)
Issue Number: 10
Column Tag: AppleScript Essentials

Introduction to Scripting QuarkXPress

by Benjamin S. Waldie

My last two columns have focused on using AppleScript to automate graphic processing with Photoshop and GraphicConverter. This month, we are going to switch gears from graphic processing to discuss another commonly automated creative process - desktop publishing. Specifically, we will explore some initial steps necessary for automating a desktop publishing workflow using QuarkXPress, a popular page layout application.

History

QuarkXPress was one of the first applications to support AppleScript, with version 3.2. In fact, it is believed by some that QuarkXPress is actually partially responsible for AppleScript being around today. Rumor has it that, at one time, Apple had planned to do away with AppleScript, but received such a backlash from the publishing community, who threatened to move to PCs if their scripted workflows were taken away, that it was decided to keep AppleScript around.



Figure 1. QuarkXPress 7's New Icon

One great aspect of Quark's AppleScript support is its commitment to backward-compatibility. From the early days to today with version 7, see figure 1, Quark's AppleScript support has not changed all that much. New terminology has been added for new application features. However, existing terminology has stayed relatively the same, with only minor modifications along the way. This has allowed many users to upgrade their scripts for new versions of Quark without the hassle of making a large number of adjustments. In fact, the recent jump from Quark 6 - 7 introduced only a handful of changes to existing AppleScript terminology, allowing many Quark 6 scripts to function in Quark 7 without any changes whatsoever.

Getting Started

As you begin scripting Quark, be sure to refer to Quark's AppleScript dictionary regularly to determine the proper terminology to use. (See figure 2.) You will find that Quark's dictionary is broken into a number of logical suites of classes and commands, and that Quark's containment hierarchy is fairly straightforward.



Figure 2. QuarkXPress' AppleScript Dictionary

For Quark 6.x users, I highly recommend downloading and installing an updated copy of the Script.xnt XTension. This updated XTension will fix problems that may occur when printing Quark documents to PostScript format in Mac OS X 10.4 and higher. This XTension is part of a package named Output Enhancements XTensions software (user mode) for QuarkXPress and QuarkXPress Passport 6.5. This package is available for download from the Support > Desktop Downloads section of Quark's website at <http://www.quark.com/service/desktop/downloads/details.jsp?idx=601>.

Getting to Know Quark Projects

In QuarkXPress, the document in which you will work is known as a project, and a project contains one or more layout spaces. For example, a project could contain a print layout, a web layout, and more. Prior to Quark 6, layout spaces did not exist, nor did projects. At that time, a document was simply called a document.

As far as AppleScript is concerned, Quark's AppleScript terminology contains project, layout space, and document classes. The document class exists to allow for compatibility with scripts written for older versions of Quark.

When referring to a project in Quark, you do so as follows:

tell application "QuarkXPress"
   tell project 1
      -- Do something
   end tell
end tell

The code above would refer to the frontmost project. The following code demonstrates how you would address a layout space within that project. In this case, the first layout space is being addressed. Even if the project only has one layout space, you must still address the layout.

tell application "QuarkXPress"
   tell layout space 1 of project 1
      -- Do something
   end tell
end tell

As mentioned before, Quark also supports a class of document, which you may use if you choose to. For example:

tell application "QuarkXPress"
   tell document 1
      -- Do something
   end tell
end tell

Referring to a document in this manner is essentially the same as referring to the current layout space of a project. In this example, document 1 refers to the frontmost project document.

In the examples above, I referred to projects, layout spaces, and documents by their index, or front to back ordering. Of course, you may also refer to projects, layout spaces, and documents by their names, if desired. For example:

tell application "QuarkXPress"
   tell layout space "Layout 1" of project "Project1"
      -- Do something
   end tell
end tell

Creating a Project

To create a new project with a single layout space in QuarkXPress, use the make command, the result of which will be a reference to the newly created project. For example:

tell application "QuarkXPress"
   make new project at beginning
end tell
--> project "Project1" of application "QuarkXPress"

In Quark, layout spaces within the same project can be different sizes. In the code above, we did not specify a height and width for the layout space in the newly created project. Because of this, Quark's current default size settings will be used to create the project. However, these can be adjusted by modifying the page height and page width properties of the default document class, prior to creating the project. For example, the following code would create a project containing a layout space that is 6 inches high and 8 inches wide.

tell application "QuarkXPress"
   tell default document 1
      set page height to "6 in"
      set page width to "8 in"
   end tell
   make new project at beginning
end tell
--> project "Project1" of application "QuarkXPress"

The layout space class itself also has page height and page width properties, which can be modified after the project is created, if desired. For example, the following code would create a new project with a single layout space that is 4 inches high by 4 inches wide.

tell application "QuarkXPress"
   set theProject to make new project at beginning
   tell layout space 1 of theProject
      set page height to "4 in"
      set page width to "4 in"
   end tell
end tell

Creating a New Layout Space

The make command may also be used to create a new layout space within an existing project. In doing so, you may choose to specify properties of the layout space, such as page height and page width. For example:

tell application "QuarkXPress"
   tell project 1
      make new layout space at end with properties {page height:"11 in", page width:"8.5 in"}
   end tell
end tell

Working with Text

Creating a Text Box

A key aspect of scripting Quark involves working with text. In Quark, text is placed into text boxes on pages within layout spaces. To create a text box via AppleScript, you will need to determine where you would like the text box to be created, and how large you would like it to be.

First, determine the page on which the text box should be created. Next, determine where you would like the box to be positioned on that page, and how large it should be. This information will be communicated to Quark using a list of bounds. This list will be formatted as follows:

   {top position, left position, bottom position, right position}

Now, to create the text box, use the make command, and specify the bounds for the box as follows:

tell application "QuarkXPress"
   tell page 1 of layout space 1 of project 1
      make new text box at beginning with properties {bounds:{"1 in", "1 in", "3 in", "6 in"}}
   end tell
end tell
--> text box 1 of page 1 of layout space "Layout 1" of project "Project1" of application 
   "QuarkXPress"

Using the code above, a text box would be created on page 1 of the layout space. The top left corner of the box would be one inch down, and one inch from the left side of the page. The bottom right corner of the box would be 3 inches down, and 6 inches from the left side of the page. Therefore, this text box would be 2 inches high and 5 inches across.

Placing Text

In Quark, a story represents all of the text within a text box. Once a text box exists, you may set its text to a specified string by setting the value of its story element. For example:

tell application "QuarkXPress"
   tell page 1 of layout space 1 of project 1
      set story 1 of text box 1 to "My Project Text"
   end tell
end tell

Please note that the code above would replace existing text in the box, if present.

Styling Text

Stories possess numerous text properties, which are modifiable via AppleScript. I will cover only a few of these in this column. I encourage you to explore Quark's AppleScript dictionary for a complete list of these properties. Please note that many of these are found under the text properties and character properties classes, which are inherited by the story class.

The following example code demonstrates the modification of a number of different character properties within a story, including font, size, and color. As you can see, values for these properties may be applied to the story itself, such as in the case of the font property below. Or, values may be applied to elements of the story, such as specific paragraphs, words, or characters.

tell application "QuarkXPress"
   tell page 1 of layout space 1 of project 1
      tell story 1 of text box 1
         set font to "Arial"
         set size of word 2 to 24
         set color of word 1 to "Yellow"
         set color of word 2 to "Cyan"
         set color of word 3 to "Magenta"
      end tell
   end tell
end tell

Figure 3 shows an example of a text box containing text that was styled using the example code above.



Figure 3. Styled Text in QuarkXPress

Working with Pictures

Creating a Picture Box

As you will find, working with picture boxes in Quark is very similar to working with text boxes. To create a picture box, use the make command, and specify a value for the box's bounds property. Again, the bounds of the box will indicate its size and positioning on the specified page. The following example code will create a 3 inch high by 5 inch wide picture box.

tell application "QuarkXPress"
   tell page 1 of layout space 1 of project 1
      make new picture box at beginning with properties {bounds:{"3 in", "1 in", "6 in", "6 in"}}
   end tell
end tell
--> picture box 1 of page 1 of layout space "Layout 1" of project "Project1" of application 
   "QuarkXPress"

Placing a Picture

Once you have created a picture box, you will probably want to place a picture within it. To do this, set its image to a specified file path. For example:

set theImage to choose file with prompt "Please select an image to place:" without 
   invisibles
tell application "QuarkXPress"
   tell page 1 of layout space 1 of project 1
      tell picture box 1
         set image 1 to theImage
      end tell
   end tell
end tell

Figure 4 demonstrates a picture box in Quark that has been populated with an image file using the example code above.



Figure 4. A Placed Picture

Naming Boxes

In most of the examples so far, we have referred to text and picture boxes by their index, i.e. front to back ordering on the page. The problem with writing a script in this manner is that the ordering of the boxes on a page may change if boxes are added, grouped, or deleted.

To get around this limitation, and ensure that your script is always interacting with the correct boxes, it is good practice to assign names to boxes in your Quark documents. Just as projects, layout spaces, and documents can be referred to by name, text and picture boxes can also be referred to by name. The problem, however, is that Quark does not provide an interface for naming text and picture boxes. Therefore, this must by done using AppleScript, by modifying the name property of the desired box. For example:

tell application "QuarkXPress"
   tell page 1 of layout space 1 of project 1
      tell text box 1
         set name to "Photo Description"
      end tell
   end tell
end tell

Once a name has been assigned to a box, you can use its name, rather than its index, to refer to the box. For example:

tell application "QuarkXPress"
   tell page 1 of layout space 1 of project 1
      set text of text box "Photo Description" to "Photo Description"
   end tell
end tell

Next Steps and Resources

Documentation and Examples

If you are a serious QuarkXPress user, and you are planning to make yourself more efficient by introducing AppleScript automation into your workflow, there are several ways to get started. First, be sure to view Quark's Guide to Apple Events Scripting documentation. This is installed along with QuarkXPress, and can be found in the Documents > Apple Events Scripting folder in the main QuarkXPress folder.

Also, in the Apple Events Scripting folder, you will find a sample Layout Construction AppleScript file, which contains some example code to get you started. This script is unlocked and editable for you to modify, or to borrow code for insertion into your own scripts.

If you're interested in finding even more documentation on scripting QuarkXPress, you may want to check out X-Ray Magazine at <http://www.xraymag.com/>. X-Ray is geared entirely for Quark users, and (excuse the shameless plug), in addition to writing for MacTech, I also write a regular AppleScript column for X-Ray on... you guessed it, AppleScripting QuarkXPress.

If the above resources still can't contain your quest for more QuarkXPress AppleScript knowledge, then you should check out AppleScripting QuarkXPress, by Shirley Hopkins, which is available (although in short supply) from Amazon.com at <http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0970726503/>.

Expanding QuarkXPress' AppleScript Support

Inevitably, you may encounter things that you wish were scriptable in Quark, but unfortunately, simply are not. Well, before you get too upset, you may want to check around to see if there is a third-party XTension that will add the functionality that you need. Quark's XTension architecture allows developers to create their XTensions that actually add new AppleScript terminology to Quark's dictionary. One such developer is Em Software (http://www.emsoftware.com), whose Xcatalog and Xdata XTensions are scriptable, and can allow users to automate quite complex document construction workflows. Gluon (http://www.gluon.com) is another developer that offers a number of scriptable XTensions for QuarkXPress.

Recording AppleScript Code in QuarkXPress

The dream of anyone getting started on scripting QuarkXPress, is to be able to record tasks they perform manually using the Script Editor's record functionality. Unfortunately, QuarkXPress (like most applications) does not support AppleScript recordability. To get around this limitation, however, be sure to check out ScriptMasterXT, a commercial XTension for QuarkXPress, available from Jintek, LLC (http://www.jintek.com/). ScriptMasterXT adds AppleScript recordability, as well as numerous useful AppleScript commands, to QuarkXPress. A limited demonstration version of ScriptMasterXT is available for download from the Jintek website.

In Closing

We have really only scratched the surface of scripting QuarkXPress. There are many, many more tasks that can be automated in Quark using AppleScript, and I would encourage you to continue exploring them on your own. With a little work, it's easily possible to automate even the most complex Quark-based workflows using AppleScript.

Until next time, keep scripting!


Ben Waldie is the author of the best selling books "AppleScripting the Finder" and the "Mac OS X Technology Guide to Automator", available from <http://www.spiderworks.com>, as well as an AppleScript Training CD, available from <http://www.vtc.com>. Ben is also president of Automated Workflows, LLC, a company specializing in AppleScript and workflow automation consulting. For years, Ben has developed professional AppleScript-based solutions for businesses including Adobe, Apple, NASA, PC World, and TV Guide. For more information about Ben, please visit <http://www.automatedworkflows.com>, or email Ben at <ben@automatedworkflows.com>.

 
AAPL
$108.00
Apple Inc.
+1.02
MSFT
$46.95
Microsoft Corpora
+0.90
GOOG
$559.08
Google Inc.
+8.77

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Vitamin-R 2.20b1 - Personal productivity...
Vitamin-R creates the optimal conditions for your brain to work at its best by structuring your work into short bursts of distraction-free, highly focused activity alternating with opportunities for... Read more
Dropbox 2.10.44 - Cloud synchronization...
Dropbox is an application that creates a special Finder folder that automatically syncs online and between your computers. It allows you to both backup files and keep them up-to-date between systems... Read more
Sandvox 2.9.2 - Easily build eye-catchin...
Sandvox is for Mac users who want to create a professional looking website quickly and easily. With Sandvox, you don't need to be a Web genius to build a stylish, feature-rich, standards-compliant... Read more
Cocktail 8.0.1 - General maintenance and...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.3.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
VMware Fusion 7.0.1 - Run Windows apps a...
VMware Fusion allows you to create a Virtual Machine on your Mac and run Windows (including Windows 8.1) and Windows software on your Mac. Run your favorite Windows applications alongside Mac... Read more
OneNote 15.3.2 - Free digital notebook f...
OneNote is your very own digital notebook. With OneNote, you can capture that flash of genius, that moment of inspiration, or that list of errands that's too important to forget. Whether you're at... Read more
Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.4 - Record and enh...
Audio Hijack Pro drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio with Audio Hijack... Read more
Iridient Developer 3.0.0 beta 3 - Powerf...
Iridient Developer (was RAW Developer) is a powerful image conversion application designed specifically for OS X. Iridient Developer gives advanced photographers total control over every aspect of... Read more
TextWrangler 4.5.11 - Free general purpo...
TextWrangler is the powerful general purpose text editor, and Unix and server administrator's tool. Oh, and also, like the best things in life, it's free. TextWrangler is the "little brother" to... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Monster Flash Review
Monster Flash Review By Jordan Minor on October 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: ALONE IN THE DARKUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Solid shooting and a surprising amount of spooky tension make Monster Flash a great portable... | Read more »
Retry Review
Retry Review By Rob Thomas on October 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: SOARING HIGHUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Flappy who? Let Retry wash all those bad bird-related memories away on a cool retro-flavored flight… right... | Read more »
Dementia: Book of the Dead Review
Dementia: Book of the Dead Review By Lee Hamlet on October 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: A TOUGH READUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A witch hunter is sent after a demonic book in the spooky but short-lived Dementia: Book... | Read more »
Card Dungeon, the Semi-Board Game Roguel...
Card Dungeon, the Semi-Board Game Roguelike, Has Been Renovated Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 31st, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Logitech Protection + Power iPhone5/5S C...
Made by: Logitech Price: $99.99 Hardware/iOS Integration Rating: 3 out of 5 stars Usability Rating: 0.5 out of 5 stars Reuse Value Rating: 0.75 out of 5 stars Build Quality Rating: 0.75 out of 5 stars Overall Rating: 1.25 out of 5 stars | Read more »
This Is Not a Test Goes Free, Permanentl...
This Is Not a Test Goes Free, Permanently Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 31st, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Swap Heroes Review
Swap Heroes Review By Campbell Bird on October 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: STRATEGIC SWAPPINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Rotate a cast of heroes to fend of waves of monsters in this difficult, puzzle rpg.   | Read more »
Night Sky Pro™ (Reference)
Night Sky Pro™ 3.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Reference Price: $2.99, Version: 3.0.1 (iTunes) Description: Night Sky Pro™Wonder No More™ Night Sky Pro™ is the ultimate stargazing experience. From the creators of the original... | Read more »
Audio Defence : Zombie Arena (Games)
Audio Defence : Zombie Arena 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A zombie shooter audio game. Made from gut-wrenching 3D binaural sound, for a new kind of weird immersion. You... | Read more »
RPG Asdivine Hearts (Games)
RPG Asdivine Hearts 1.1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.1.0 (iTunes) Description: SPECIAL PRICE50% OFF (USD 7.99 -> USD 3.99)!!! Travel alongside four companions and a cat in the adventure of a... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Tablets Ascendent Again; Global Tablet Market...
The worldwide tablet grew 11.5% year over year in the third quarter of 2014 (3Q14) with shipments reaching 53.8 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (... Read more
Apple now offering refurbished 2014 13-inch R...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 13″ Retina MacBook Pros for up to $270 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Apple Regains Momentum As Windows Stutters An...
The latest smartphone sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, for the three months to March 2014, shows Apple performing strongly in the first quarter of the year, with sales bouncing back in... Read more
Worldwide Smartphone Shipments Increase 25.2%...
New smartphone releases and an increased emphasis on emerging markets drove global smartphone shipments above 300 million units for the second consecutive quarter, according to preliminary data from... Read more
Apple now offering refurbished 2014 15-inch M...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros for up to $400 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Apple drops prices on refurbished 2013 Retina...
The Apple Store has dropped prices on 2013 Apple Certified Refurbished 13″ and 15″ Retina MacBook Pros, with Retina models now available starting at $999. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and... Read more
New 2.8GHz Mac mini on sale for $949, save $5...
Abt Electronics has the new 2.8GHz Mac mini in stock and on sale for $949.05 including free shipping. Their price is $50 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model from any reseller... Read more
Sale! 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro available for...
 B&H Photo has the 3.7GHz Quad Core Mac Pro on sale for $2649 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $350 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price for this model from any... Read more
Mujjo Steps Up The Game With Refined Touchscr...
Netherlands based Mujjo have just launched their Refined Touchscreen Gloves, stepping up their game. The gloves feature a updated elegant design that takes these knitted gloves to the next level. A... Read more
Sale! Preorder the new 27-inch 5K iMac for $2...
 Abt Electronics has the new 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale and available for preorder for $2374.05 including free shipping. Their price is $125 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this... Read more

Jobs Board

Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…Summary** As a Specialist, you help create the energy and excitement around Apple products, providing the right solutions and getting products into customers' hands. You Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** Being a Business Manager at an Apple Store means you're the catalyst for businesses to discover and leverage the power, ease, and flexibility of Apple Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** As more and more people discover Apple , they visit our stores seeking ways to incorporate our products into their lives. It's your job, as a Store Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** At the Apple Store, you connect business professionals and entrepreneurs with the tools they need in order to put Apple solutions to work in their Read more
Solutions Specialist with *Apple* Knowledge...
Company Description: We are an Apple Authorized Sales and Service Provider. We have been selling and servicing Apple computers in the Fairfield County area for over Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.