Quark has announced QuarkXPress 8, the latest version of the DTP standard which is scheduled to ship by the end of July.

The new version offers a much-improved user interface, vastly improved typographic controls, built-in Flash authoring and facilities to enable global publishing in multiple formats, including web, print and more.

Earlier this week, archrival Adobe unveiled new beta versions of its Dreamweaver, Fireworks and Soundbooth programs - constituent programs in its Creative Suite 4.0 along with DTP package InDesign.

Click here for our Adobe Soundbooth 4 beta review.

QuarkXPress 8.0 offers numerous new design tools, for example, the Picture Content Tool allows users to grab, rotate, and scale images in real-time without typing in numbers or switching from tool to tool.

Quark has attempted to improve workflow by reducing the need for designers to switch between tools, in another example of this, the Item Tool and Text Content Tool now offer more intelligent behaviour within them to enable less switching between tools, even for rotation and managing multiple items.

XPress 8.0 also introduces new Bézier Pen Tools, enabling designers to draw illustrations within the application.

Additional workspace enhancements include new buttons for instant access to master pages and for exporting to PDF, EPS, SWF and HTML. The application also offers new split-view buttons, enhanced contextual menus, and customisable active pasteboards. The Measurements Palette has also been improved.

Perhaps the biggest design bonus is the applications far improved support for drag-&-drop: users can drag text and pictures from the desktop, Adobe Bridge, iPhoto, or any other application that supports drag and drop. It’s also possible to drag content from XPress to Photoshop, Illustrator, Word, and other applications for direct editing.

For typography, QuarkXPress 8.0 is the first page-layout application to offer hanging characters with paragraph-by-paragraph control, multiple and easy-to-use presets, and the freedom for users to create and share their own hanging character settings. It also offers unprecedented control over baseline grid settings, the ability to apply unique grid settings to individual boxes, and a Grid Styles feature that can keep even complex documents consistent.

Users can incorporate sound, video, animation, and interactivity into their layouts through a built-in, designer-friendly interactive layout tool that was previously available as Quark Interactive Designer.

QuarkXPress 8.0 supports advanced eastern and western typography for more than 30 languages within one file format. All editions share the same dictionaries, include hyphenation functionality, and support the import, formatting, and output of East Asian text. American and European users can switch between language versions of the user interface and all users can open and print a file created in any edition of XPress 8.0 without reflow.

With a bid for Asia, QuarkXPress 8.0 Plus Edition is also available, offering in-depth features for formatting East Asian text. This version includes more than 20 additional OpenType font features, a user-friendly character spacing feature, a true ideographic grid with character count, and the ability to apply grid styles that can be applied at the page and box level.

The plethora of improvements also includes native Illustrator file import, native Photoshop support, WYSIWYG font rendering, advanced guide management with Guide Manager Pro, Item Styles to enable simultaneous control of formatting for multiple items, support for importing PDF version 1.7 and earlier, and Ghent PDF Workgroup (GWG) based Output Styles and GWG-based Job Jackets support.

QuarkXPress 8.0 will be available to purchase directly from Quark and through Quark resellers worldwide within the next 60 days.

Customers purchasing XPress 7 from 29 May until version 8.0 ships will be able to upgrade to version 8.0 at no charge, the company also revealed.