Release: Xtags 6/ for XPress 6/7

April 20, 2007 by

This set of releases includes a whole slew of bug fixes and adds many features, including additional picture box runaround type support, box placement relative to another named box, PDF page and cropping support on import, Unicode import/export in XPress 7, support for layers on box creation, and much more.


  • Fixed a problem that was causing character style references to fail. Both the <@...> tag and paragraph style definitions using named character styles now work properly. (QXP6/Mac only)
  • Changed text generated via Save Text with Xtags in QuarkXPress 6.1/Mac to once again use MacOS-style line ends (CRs) rather than Unix-style line ends (LFs). This addresses an issue where simple text produced by Xtags could not be read back in using Quark’s own Get Text… (which doesn’t handle Unix line ends correctly).
  • Fixed a minor problem where 6.x-style serials were being forgotten in some situations and needed to be reentered on each restart.
  • Removed arbitrary limitations from the number of rows a table tag may specify. (Pro only)
  • Fixed a tables problem when auto-sizing a row’s height. A single line of text appearing immediately after a paragraph’s rule is no longer clipped/overset by a too-small row height. (Pro only)
  • Added support to <&tcs(...)> for a W flag which tells Xtags to allow that cell’s contents to wrap. (In other words, the W flag tells Xtags to skip that cell when auto-sizing the column’s width.) (Pro only)
  • Fixed a tables problem where a table tag’s interior vertical gridline properties were not being applied. (Pro only)
  • Added support for $ as a gridline parameter value which indicates that the default value (from the table tool’s preferences) be used for that position. (Pro only)

Changes at Xtags for QuarkXPress 6/7.3.1 release

  • Boxes being placed under a relatively-referenced box are now put behind the referenced box before being auto-sized so that the shrink-to-contents will account for any runaround on the referenced box. Prior to this change, auto-sized text boxes were becoming overset when sent behind a referenced box.
  • Added support for additional picture box runaround types including auto image, embedded path, alpha channel, non-white areas, same as clipping and picture bounds. The expanded runaround parameter of an unanchored picture box tag takes the form of a sub-list:
    ..., (type, flags, index, noise, smoothness, threshold),...

    where type is one of n (none), i (item), a (auto image), e (embedded path), c (alpha channel), w (non-white areas), s (same as clipping), b (picture bounds). flags may specify any (or none) of the following: I (invert), E (include inner edges), O (let path extend outside the box). index specifies the embedded path or alpha channel when one of those types is selected. noise, smoothness and
    threshold specify the tolerance settings for auto image, alpha channel and non-white runaround.

  • Fixed a problem where text box background colors other than “None” were being ignored.
  • Fixed a problem where the last character of any Copy-as-Xtags‘d text was being ignored when pasted (via Edit > Paste) back into a text box. (Windows, QXP7 only)
  • Added table gridlines. (Pro only)

Changes at Xtags for QuarkXPress 6/ release

  • Boxes may now be placed relative to a named box that is anywhere in the document, on the current spread or on the current page. If the named box is not found, the box creation fails and an error is generated. If the name is prefaced with a question mark, the creation is considered conditional: if the named box is not found then no box is created and no error is reported.

    Where the named box is looked for can be specified by setting a new parameter in the relative reference sub-list to ‘D’ (to search the document’s layout), ‘S’ (to search the current spread) or ‘P’ (to limit the search to the current page). The default search location is the current spread.

    E.g., <&pbu2((0,TL,"sidebar"),0,...)> looks for a box named “sidebar” on the current spread and places this new box on top of it. If “sidebar” isn’t found, the tag fails and an error is generated.

    E.g., <&pbu2((0,TL,"?sidebar"),0,...)> also looks for a box named “sidebar”, but if one can’t be found no error is issued.

    E.g., <&tbu2((0,TL,"background",D),0,(1,R,0),(1,R,0),...)> searches the document for a box named “background” and creates a same-sized text box on top of it.

    Note that you can name a box on a master page and then position boxes on each document page relative to where the named master page box lies. This could be handy when tagged elements’ placements need to be determined by the layout rather than the tags. For example, something like


    might be used to place a left-page footer only on left pages. Since no box named “left-page-footer” would exist on the right page master, the tag would silently fail on right-side pages.

  • Added a new unanchored box flag, ‘U’, which may be used to send a relatively placed box behind (under) its referenced box. If both the U and K (send to back) flags are specified for a relatively-placed box, the K flags will be ignored.

    For example, the tags sequence:

    <&tbu2((0,TL,"fancybox",S),0,(1,R,0),(4",S,6),0,0,,...)>Some text.<&tbe>

    would create a text box aligned with (and as wide as) the current spread’s “fancybox”, shrink the box’s height to its contents, then slide a same-sized picture box in behind that text box to provide a background graphic.

  • Tags referencing H&J and L&F names with accented characters are now saved/copied correctly to Unicode. Previously, accented characters were being converted to unknown or invalid Unicode code points. ( only)
  • Fixed a problem introduced in 6/ which caused table start tag parameters above the 7th (text-align/runaround) to fail.
  • Attempting to use a table tag without a Pro serial number now produces a “table tags require a Pro serial” error message rather than the previous builds’ “unknown” error.

Changes at Xtags for QuarkXPress 6/ release

  • Added PDF page and cropping support to the picture box tags &pb, &pbu and &pbu2). The picture path name parameter may now specify a sub-list with the format
    (filename, page number, cropping style)

    where filename is the absolute or relative path to the PDF, page number is the number of the page to be imported and cropping style is the type of the cropping method to be applied.

    Page numbers are integers in the range 1 … n where n is the number of the last page in the PDF. Values larger than n are clamped to n while a value smaller than 1 will cause both the page and cropping pameters to be ignored. If not otherwise specified, Xtags will load the the PDF’s first page.

    The cropping style parameter may be 0 (media), 1 (contents, the default), 2 (bleed) or 3 (trim).

    Xtags will silently ignore the use of these parameters on non-PDF images.

    This is an Xtags 7-only feature. Versions of Xtags prior to will silently ignore these parameters.

  • Fixed a problem where incorrect style names were being generated when exporting tagged text from some documents.
  • Improved the handling of shrink-to-fit baseline-aligned anchored boxes where a negative baseline offset places the box either partially or completely below the baseline. Previously, the box would always maintain the negative offset by shrinking towards its bottom edge. Now, if the offset is large enough to place the pre-sized box completely below the baseline, then the resized box will shrink
    towards the baseline–meaning the gap between the baseline and the box’s top, if any, will be maintained. For example, the tags

    <*R><&tb(30,(3",S),(b,-3"-6pt))>@:Sidebar: some interesting fluff<&te>

    will now create an anchored text box sized to its contents hanging 6 points below the baseline. (Before it would shrink towards the box’s bottom, leaving a variably-sized gap between the baseline and the box’s top.) In this case, the box is pushed to the right edge of the page in its own paragraph such that it floats next to the next paragraph like a sidebar.

    If the negative offset would leave the pre-sized anchored box straddling the baseline, then the resized box will now shrink about the baseline proportionally. For
    example, the tag


    will create an anchored picture box vertically centered on the baseline. After being fit to the image, the resized box will now remain centered on the baseline.

  • Changed the minimum allowable baseline-alignment offset from -.5″ to -11″. The maximum allowable offset remains +11.5″.
  • Unanchored lines created with <&lbu> may now be sent-to-back using the K flag.
  • Fixed a problem where index entries made via <XI> in a text box created with <&tb> or <&tbu> were being placed in the main story rather than in the created box’s story.
  • The angle field of the &tsu() tag is no longer ignored, allowing unanchored tables to be rotated. (Xtags Pro only)

Changes at Xtags for QuarkXPress 6/7.3 release

  • Fixed a box placement problem where attempting to place an unanchored box relative to the most-recently-anchored box (e.g. <&pbu2((1,TL,0),0,...)>) would instead place the unanchored box relative to the most-recently-created unanchored box, if there was one, or issue the error “Xtags error: No such previous box: tag &pb[u2]” if not.
  • Added support for Unicode characters in box and layer names, though QuarkXPress’s UI won’t always handle them properly. (7.x only)
  • Added support for text encodings–including Unicode–and direct-from-memory imports and exports to the XTensions interface. (7.x only)
  • Fixed a problem where Xtags would issue an error for every box placed on the “Default” layer.
  • Fixed a minor memory leak that could occur with each import.
  • Added support for the <$$>, <a$> and <a$$> tags. For a description of these tags see QuarkXPress Help / Appendices / Using XPress Tags / Defining and Applying Style Sheets / Additional XPress Tags for Style Sheets.
  • Added support for 7.0’s opacity parameter in the paragraph rules tags. For tags marked as <v7.00> or later, the 5th (new) parameter in the *ra‘s and *rb‘s parameter list now specifies the opacity of the rule. (7.x only)
  • Added support for 7.0’s new character-based language tag <n>. (7.x only)
  • Added support for 7.0’s new ligatures tag <G>. (7.x only)
  • Added support for 7.0’s OpenType Feature tag <o(...)>. (7.x only)
  • Added support for Quark’s new XPress Tags 7.0 space character tags, including: en <\e>, 3-per-em <\5>, 4-per-em <\$>, 6-per-em <\^>, figure <\8>, thin <\[>, hair <\{> and word joiner <\j>. (7.x only)
  • Added support for Quark’s new XPress Tags 7.0 em dash character tag <\_>. In <v7.00> sources, this tag replaces <\m> as the em dash tag (see <\m>’s new 7.0 meaning, below). (7.x only)
  • The <\f> and <\m> tags now conform to Quark’s XPress Tags specification and produce a flex space and an em space, respectively, when imported from a <v7.00> source rather than an en space an a em dash as they do in prior tag versions. (7.x only)
  • Xtags 7.x now supports the import and export of tagged text encoded as Mac Roman, Windows Latin, UTF-8 or UTF-16.

    On import, UTF-16-encoded files are always automatically detected and any <e> tag in the file is ignored. UTF-8 files must either begin with a byte order mark (BOM) or contain the tag <e9>. Otherwise, the file is assumed to be encoded as Mac Roman (on Mac OS) or Windows Latin (on Windows) unless an <e> tag specifies otherwise (<e0> for Mac Roman or <e1> for Windows Latin). (7.x only)

    On export, the desired encoding may be specified in the Save Text as Xtags dialog’s new Encoding: pop-up menu. If a given Unicode character does not translate to the specified encoding (Mac Roman or Windows Latin), it will be converted to a <\#Uxxxx>. (7.x only)

  • Xtags now supports Unicode translation files and macros using Unicode characters. (7.x only)
  • The Apple Script interface now accepts and generates Unicode strings. (7.x only)
  • Boxes created by Xtags now take their default values from the document’s appropriate tool defaults: the rectangular text box tool for <&tb>, <&tbu> and <&tbu2> tags and the rectangular picture box tool for the <&pb> and <&pbu> tags.
  • Added the <p%> tag to support text opacity in QuarkXPress 7. For example,
    The <p50>ghostly<p$> owl

    would import with the word “ghostly” with its opacity set to 50%. (7.x only)

  • Accented characters in color, style, language, line, frame, H&J and layer names are now translated to and from Unicode correctly. (7.x only)
  • We’ve added support for the <\#Uxxxx> (and <\#U+xxxx>) tag that was first introduced in our Xtags for InDesign product. With it, any character may be specified using its Unicode code point value. For example, an em-dash may be specified as <\#U2014> or <\#U+2014>.
  • What was File > Get Text with Xtags… has been changed to File > Import Text with Xtags… and what was File &gt Save Text with Xtags… has been changed to File > Save Text with Xtags… to better align with QuarkXPress 7’s updated terminology. (7.x only)
  • Requests to shrink anchored text boxes to fit their contents are now attempted in additional situations (including when overset) in order to address a problem where some imports were seeing a portion of their anchored text boxes left unshrunk for no apparent reason.
  • Added support for layers so that unanchored boxes may now be created on a specific document layer using the tag’s layer name parameter. From the Xtags User’s Guide:
    <&tbu2(x, y, width, height, box angle, box skew, flags,
    item runaround, frame width, frame color, frame shade,
    frame style, background color, background shade,
    text outset, columns, gutter, text inset, baseline offset,
    baseline minimum, vertical alignment, interparagraph maximum,
    box name, layer name)>...Text to be placed in the box,
    typically containing other tags...<&te>


    <&pbu2(x, y, width, height, box angle, box skew, flags,
    item runaround, frame width, frame color, frame shade,
    frame style, background color, background shade, text outset,
    placement, picture scale x, picture scale y,
    picture offset x, picture offset y, picture angle, picture skew,
    picture path name, picture type, box name, layer name)>

    If the specified layer does not yet exist, it is created with default color and visibility. If the layer cannot be created, the box is placed on the currently selected (active) layer.

  • Fixed a problem where a crash could occur upon File > Get Text with Xtags… if the initial folder contained a file lacking a Classic designation (‘TEXT’, for example) and having a name ending with a period. (Mac OS X only)
  • The character resulting from a numeric escape tag is now governed by the <e> tag and mapped into the current platform’s character set. So a Mac-based numeric escape tag like <\#17> now properly generates the TM symbol on Windows rather than a superscripted “a” character.
  • When exporting Xtags text, a missing font’s name is now included in the <f"..."> tag rather than being substituted with a question mark. For example, Xtags will now generate <f"Minion Pro Med"> rather than <f"?"> for the missing font Minion Pro Medium.
  • Fixed an export problem which was occasionally preventing the generation of certain character attributes applied to text within a “none”-style paragraph with no character style applied. For example, the <cW> tag might not be generated for a span of white text within a “none”-style paragraph with no character style applied.
  • Reverting to the paragraph style’s character attributes via <@$p> no longer applies a random font/size/color if the paragraph style references a character style for its character attributes.
  • Fixed a problem where loading a picture using a relative path of the form ":a folder:a picture file with a very long name.tif" or ":a picture file with a very long name.tif" would result in a file not found error even if the picture file actually existed. (Mac OS only)
  • Worked around a problem caused by non-conforming XTensions (like PSD Import) where loading a picture was causing Xtags to emit incorrect text in its error messages
  • A problem in QuarkXPress 6 where the document’s home folder is “forgotten” when the document was opened on a network volume has been worked around (the problem arises because XPress now copies a remote documents to a local version before working on it). Now Xtags will find pictures relative to the document’s folder even when that document is on a network volume. (Documents on a local volume were never a problem.)
  • When importing tags from a file, both the document’s folder and the source file’s folder will be searched when looking for pictures specified using a relative path, in that order. (What’s new is searching in the source file’s folder.)
  • Exporting a group containing a box with an illegal shape no longer crashes. Instead, the export will fail with error code -27 (unsupported box shape).
  • Translation tables now allow the vertical tab escape \v to represent character 11 ( <\#11>).
  • The “No style” character style is now used instead of “Normal” when a reverting to a “No style”-styled paragraph’s default character style using the <@$p> tag.
  • The correct tags are now generated after a <@$p> tag is emitted within a “No style”-styled paragraph.

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