A Klingon Named Quark

Over the last decade or so of my professional life, I’ve had the displeasure (and occasionally terror, frustration and a bunch of other un-nice words) to work with a program called Quark Xpress.

For those of you fortunate enough not to have had to deal with the program, Quark is a pagination program — it’s what most major publishing companies (including magazines, newspapers, public relations companies, etc.) use to create their print products.

I don’t really hate Quark Xpress (which is currently in its sixth incarnation, and which was recently ported to Mac OS X … an event greatly anticipated in Mac circles). While Adobe makes a competing product — Adobe InDesign — Quark’s the industry standard, and for what it’s worth, its good at what it does, even if its look and toolset’s getting a little long in the tooth. My animosity stems from the fact that I’ve spent so many hours — first in newspapers, then at a university — fighting with the damn thing.

But in its most recent release, Quark has managed to get a little cooler.

One problem that designers often run into when creating publications is that they have artwork for a page, but they don’t have text for it yet. They can’t layout the page without the text, but they don’t want to wait for the writer to finally turn his or her finished draft.

In the past, designers would just make up some silly text (I was partial to using Jack Handey quotes) to fill space until the real text was available. The new version of Quark (and possibly version 5 — I jumped directly from version 4 to 6) offers a new alternative: Jabber.

This neat little utility fills text boxes with made-up text in a variety of languages and forms. The defaults are English, Latin, Esperanto and … Klingon.

Yes, that’s right, Klingon.

By default, the program uses English, but you can switch it to Klingon, and Quark will then happily fill text box after text box with the Star Trek language.

It’ll write prose:

Vagh ra’wI’S yot vatlh qej mo’S, ‘ach vagh vetlhs ta’ jay’. Vatlh ngeb yoDS ah reH nep vagh ah buD veQDujs, joq loS may’S Ho’ wa’ ah Dogh ghom, ‘ach vatlh chals ah jay’ yot wa’ ghom, joq vatlh puchs legh wa’ QIp jonta’, ach QI’tomer po’ chop tera’. LoS ‘ejyo’S chu’ vagh meHloDnI’S, ‘ach QI’tomer legh loS De’S. Vagh quprIps lon wa’ ah Qob Hurgh. Vagh ah vaghDich bIQ’a’S Ho’ loS ghoqwI’S, ach vagh ghoms muH loS Do’ noSvaghs, joq vatlh pup peys ba’ ah jaS, ach wa’ ah Dung may’ legh vatlh pu’S. Vagh ah lI’ verengans ngev wa’ tIn muD. Vatlh qej ghoqwI’S tIch loS tlhIngans, joq vagh buD meHloDnI’S tIb tera’,

And it’ll write verse:

Wa’ ah jej lInDab ah nom ghom loS Du’S
‘ach vatlh pengs tIhuH jay’.
LoS meHloDnI’S nom qIp wa’ yIH.

LoS lI’ choljaHS tIb wa’ ghom.
Vatlh ah Qut vetlhs muH loS tlhaQ gharghs
Ach vagh ah Qav peys ba’.

Needless to say, I was impressed. This is about the coolest — and definitely the geekiest — thing Quark’s done since having a Martian come out and blow-up objects in your workspace. It almost makes up for all those hours I spent trying to de-bug a “new generation of EPS” errors at the Pocono Record.