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QuarkXPress 4.0 drawn up

The next version of the popular design software is purportedly ready, though its release date is a secret.

Quark is preparing to roll out QuarkXPress 4.0, though it's keeping the release date a secret.

The new version of the popular desktop publishing program will center its improvements around Bezier-based graphics, which allow the creation of complex designs.

For example, XPress 4.0 with Bezier support will give users the ability to separate an image from its background without using another editing program. Another advancement is text mapping, as designers can now lay out text to follow a complex curve.

XPress 4.0 will add a new long-document file called a "book," which serves as a collection of XPress documents that share attributes such as style sheets, colors, lists, and hyphenation and justification. Book files will be accessible to multiple users across a network.

The new version will also feature a revamped interface, with tabbed dialog boxes and pop-out toolbars. QuarkXPress plug-ins, called XTensions, can be saved in custom sets and configured each time the program is launched.

QuarkXPress 4.0 for Windows 95 and NT will not run on Windows 3.x systems. On the Macintosh side, it will run on both 68K and PowerMac systems.

The estimated price will be $995. A ship date has not been announced.