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Author Topic: Response to Questions about our book, “Using FREE Scribus Software to Create Pro  (Read 6595 times)

aa_gangchen

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Response to Questions about our book, “Using FREE Scribus Software to Create Professional Presentations”

After I post a message about our book, “Using FREE Scribus Software to Create Professional Presentations” (http://greenexameducation.com/) last week, we have received some feedbacks/comments. Many of them are similar, so I choose to respond to all of them here:


First of all, we have several suggestions for you and others who have developed and supported Scribus:

1. The help function for Scribus is TERRIBLE: If you do a search with a term on Scribus, it just takes you to one or more websites, and then you have to go thru pages after pages of information, and still can NOT find help for the simple command you need. It is a total waste of user’s time.

Why is it so hard for Scribus to build the basic help command within the program, like AutoCAD, or MS Word?

2. The way of generating a PDF/x-1a:2001 compatible file is ABSOLUTELY critical for book cover design, it is the dominant file format for color interior book publishing, b/w interior books can be in other file formats.

This is a MAJOR weakness of Scribus. It is ABSOLUTELY important to tell the readers the easiest way of generating a PDF/x-1a:2001 compatible file with Scribus or how to go around and solve the problem. All other formats, like X-3, etc. will AUTOMATICALLY show up as one of the choices in Scribus.

Hopefully, Scribus will come up with a new edition that will export to this format.

Now, back to my book, it is a "for dummy" kind of book that is meant for beginners, and I chose to use COLOR interior to make it easier to read for the readers. This means I have to use the minimum number of pages to describe the ABSOLUTELY critical commands for the readers to learn Scribus in the shortest time and survive.

There are hundreds and maybe thousands of commands in Scribus or any other graphic programs, but you only need to learn a VERY small number of common commands to be able to survive. Once you can do that, you can slowly build up your commands and advance to the next level.  On the commands that I do cover, I repeat them a few times to help the readers MASTER them.

If you give a beginner too much information and too many commands, you WILL scare them off, and they’ll NEVER use Scribus, and you are NOT helping them at all, let alone the advanced features of Scrbus.

For this reason, I did NOT discuss:
1. Issue of “color coverage of up to 400%”:  Unless you make the cover VERY, VERY dark, i.e., a black cat in a black cave, there is almost no chance for a 397% cover. Even for the black cat cover, if you use pure black, you’ll NOT have any problem at all. So for 99.99% of the readers, this is NOT an issue AT ALL. I may add this to a future b/w version of my book for more advanced users.

2. Snap to guide: Snap to guide is important, but the Scribus snap function is so “elementary” or NOT mature when compared with other software. For example, in AutoCAD, you can snap to midpoint, intersection, endpoint, perpendicular point, nearest point, etc. All these choices are not available in Scribus.  Readers can easily play with Scribus and learn this later on their own if they can survive and start to use Scribus. I may add this to a future b/w version of my book for more advanced users.

3. The use of paragraph styles:  Readers can easily learn this later on Scribus this own if they can survive and start to use Scribus. I may add this to a future b/w version of my book for more advanced users.

4. Font sub-setting and its limitations: Readers can easily learn this later on Scribus own if they can survive and start to use Scribus. I may add this to a future b/w version of my book for more advanced users.

5. The minimum resolution of graphic image: The minimum resolution is covered in ALL major book printers’ criteria already. There is NO need to repeat it in my book, and each printer may have different requirements: 300 dpi, or 600 dpi, etc.

6. I did advise to ignore some error messages: The error messages show up because of the book template that I imported, and but these will not affect my book cover design.  I do NOT want to spend a lot of time to go into details for these error messages.

7. I did introduce using jpeg format barcodes as a last resort: I know manytechnical geeks are against this, but I do NOT even give a damp:

You need to enlarge a book to 800% percent to notice any difference. For a book cover, NOBODY will use an enlarged lens to enlarge a book cover to 800% to read the barcodes.

Using jpeg format barcodes as a last resort is EXTREMELY helpful for someone who is learning Scribus by himself/herself, gets stuck with the barcode problem and has nobody to turn to, and has a deadline to meet. This valuable option will save him/her.


Here is the detailed information about our book:

Using FREE Scribus Software to Create Professional Presentations: Book Covers, Magazine Covers, Graphic Designs, Posters, Newsletters, Renderings, and More (Full Color Edition)

ISBN: 9780984374151   

Here is some more info on the book:
http://www.amazon.com/Scribus-Software-Create-Professional-Presentations/dp/0984374159%3FSubscriptionId%3D1QZMGW0RRJC2PX87HDR2%26tag%3Dsalranexp-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%26creativeASIN%3D0984374159#_


See all our published books at:
http://www.amazon.com/Gang-Chen/e/B001JS00RK/
http://GreenExamEducation.com/



Meho R.

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...
First of all, we have several suggestions for you and others who have developed and supported Scribus:

1. The help function for Scribus is TERRIBLE: If you do a search with a term on Scribus, it just takes you to one or more websites, and then you have to go thru pages after pages of information, and still can NOT find help for the simple command you need. It is a total waste of user’s time.

Why is it so hard for Scribus to build the basic help command within the program, like AutoCAD, or MS Word?
I disagree: Scribus has a decent help, at least for basics. And it is within the program, so I don't know what's the issue here.
Quote
2. The way of generating a PDF/x-1a:2001 compatible file is ABSOLUTELY critical for book cover design, it is the dominant file format for color interior book publishing, b/w interior books can be in other file formats.

This is a MAJOR weakness of Scribus. It is ABSOLUTELY important to tell the readers the easiest way of generating a PDF/x-1a:2001 compatible file with Scribus or how to go around and solve the problem. All other formats, like X-3, etc. will AUTOMATICALLY show up as one of the choices in Scribus.
Maybe and maybe not, depends on in what country you live, what kind of printing method is used and a lot of other things.
Quote
If you give a beginner too much information and too many commands, you WILL scare them off, and they’ll NEVER use Scribus, and you are NOT helping them at all, let alone the advanced features of Scrbus.
Are you talking about scripter? If not, you should explain what do you mean by "command".
Quote
2. Snap to guide: Snap to guide is important, but the Scribus snap function is so “elementary” or NOT mature when compared with other software. For example, in AutoCAD, you can snap to midpoint, intersection, endpoint, perpendicular point, nearest point, etc...
You can try with Blender :) Seriously, I cannot see rationale in comparing Scribus with AutoCAD. Why should we have all these "snap to" options? We're not constructing buildings or machines, but books and magazines, with blocks of text and images. I had some issues with guides in 1.3.3.x version, but not with 1.4.x, nor 1.5.x.
Quote
3. The use of paragraph styles:  Readers can easily learn this later on Scribus this own if they can survive and start to use Scribus. I may add this to a future b/w version of my book for more advanced users.
I disagree. Use of styles is recommended way for manipulating text and they should be discussed.
Quote
5. The minimum resolution of graphic image: The minimum resolution is covered in ALL major book printers’ criteria already. There is NO need to repeat it in my book, and each printer may have different requirements: 300 dpi, or 600 dpi, etc.
Yet, on mailing list questions about resolution pop up every so often, so you might give it a second thought.


aa_gangchen

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If you talk to people in the book publishing industry, you’ll know the way of generating a PDF/x-1a:2001 compatible file is ABSOLUTELY critical.

A PDF/x-1a:2001 compatible file is mandatory by a few of the large printers that can actually print your books worldwide.
« Last Edit: August 06, 2011, 09:15:15 am by aa_gangchen »

a.l.e

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hi

Response to Questions about our book, “Using FREE Scribus Software to Create Professional Presentations”

[...]

Now, back to my book, it is a "for dummy" kind of book that is meant for beginners, and I chose to use COLOR interior to make it easier to read for the readers. This means I have to use the minimum number of pages to describe the ABSOLUTELY critical commands for the readers to learn Scribus in the shortest time and survive.

having had a look at your book, i would urge you to change its title in "Book Covers with Scribus for Dummies" or "Book Covers with Scribus for Self-publishers", "Creating your first Book Cover with Scribus"...

as someone aldready commented on amazon,  selling it as a general introduction to scribus is misleading. meho's answer is also a mirror of the expectations the titles gives to the readers.

in a few further posts i will try to answer the questions you raised, by keeping an eye on the focus of your book. just one general notice: scribus is not a software thought for creating book covers! personally, i have the feeling that using inkscape (a vector graphic application focused on single page documents) would better fit your goals!

a.l.e

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hi gang chen,

2. The way of generating a PDF/x-1a:2001 compatible file is ABSOLUTELY critical for book cover design, it is the dominant file format for color interior book publishing, b/w interior books can be in other file formats.

scribus already supports PDF/x-1a in its development version (1.5svn).

sadly, it can't be backported to the soon to be released Scribus 1.4.
but, with a bit of luck, we will see a 1.6  version at the end of 2012...

ciao
a.l.e

a.l.e

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There are hundreds and maybe thousands of commands in Scribus or any other graphic programs, but you only need to learn a VERY small number of common commands to be able to survive. Once you can do that, you can slowly build up your commands and advance to the next level.  On the commands that I do cover, I repeat them a few times to help the readers MASTER them.

while there is a real need for simplification and friendliness in the Scribus' user interface, i don't think that Scribus should become an application for dummies.

the point where you're fully correct is: we should define one (or a few) type of user we want to have as a target and we  make their work very easy and intuitive!

from my knowledge of the Scribus user base, i think we could try to target the authors of brochures and small magazines.

there are people currently working on several usability issues and i think that it would be interesting to hear what are the easy things to change to make Scribus more friendly and intuitive to people learning scribus, without dumbing down the interface, if possible...

ciao
a.l.e

a.l.e

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...
2. Snap to guide: Snap to guide is important, but the Scribus snap function is so “elementary” or NOT mature when compared with other software. For example, in AutoCAD, you can snap to midpoint, intersection, endpoint, perpendicular point, nearest point, etc...
You can try with Blender :) Seriously, I cannot see rationale in comparing Scribus with AutoCAD. Why should we have all these "snap to" options? We're not constructing buildings or machines, but books and magazines, with blocks of text and images. I had some issues with guides in 1.3.3.x version, but not with 1.4.x, nor 1.5.x.
Quote
3. The use of paragraph styles:  Readers can easily learn this later on Scribus this own if they can survive and start to use Scribus. I may add this to a future b/w version of my book for more advanced users.
I disagree. Use of styles is recommended way for manipulating text and they should be discussed.
Quote
5. The minimum resolution of graphic image: The minimum resolution is covered in ALL major book printers’ criteria already. There is NO need to repeat it in my book, and each printer may have different requirements: 300 dpi, or 600 dpi, etc.
Yet, on mailing list questions about resolution pop up every so often, so you might give it a second thought.

i mostly agree with meho, here.

2. the current implementation of guides is mostly good enough for scribus. there is place for improvements, but for most uses, the current features are enough. seeing what you're missing, i really wonder if you're not looking for a vector drawing program: inkscape does what you need! (if you're wondering of what i think are the welcome improvements: non orthogonal guides, locking of guides defined in a master page, defining guides from the current selected item).

3. formatting styles are not relevant for creating books cover, i agree. but it belongs in every generalist scribus manual (your book is not one of them, so it does not have to cover them: but it may be listed as further topics for the user wanting to do more)

5. in a step by step manual on book covers, you should definitively talk about picture sizes and resolution. after a dummy user has read your section on the pictures, there is still a high risk that she creates a book cover which will deceive her when she sees it printed.

ciao
a.l.e

Meho R.

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If you talk to people in the book publishing industry, you’ll know the way of generating a PDF/x-1a:2001 compatible file is ABSOLUTELY critical.

A PDF/x-1a:2001 compatible file is mandatory by a few of the large printers that can actually print your books worldwide.

As I said earlier, that depends on where do you live and what technology is used in printing process. I work as an editor for a publishing house in south Europe and not a single time were we requested to send our covers in PDF/x-1a:2001 format. Printers here are quite flexible in this regard. So "ABSOLUTELY critical" might be true for some people, but certainly not for all.

aa_gangchen

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Overall, I am VERY happy with Scribus. The one thing I really hope to have is the ability to create PDF/x-1a in version 1.6. I cannot wait until its release in 2012. My above suggestions are NOT complaints, but suggestions to make Scribus better because I like it so much.

I have saved hundreds or more accurately, THOUSANDS of dollars in book cover design: A book cover design costs anywhere from $299 to $999 or more, and I have created over a dozen of book covers with Scribus.

When I first started to use Scribus, I have over 20 years of experience in graphic software, but ZERO experience on Scribus, I was able to create a book cover in 4 hours by looking through the help function, going thru Scribus websites, etc.

One thing I notice is that the Scribus help function or manual has a lot words but little graphic images (at least the one comes with the Scribus software and at the Scribus website), so I decided to document the easiest way to create a book cover with very few words describing the commands or pull-down menu, but many screenshots to help others in similar position. I decide to discuss ONLY the most fundamental elements to make you survive Scribus, such as layers, locking element, levels, inserting text and graphic, extracting barcodes from a EPS template, importing and overlaying an EPS template, exporting PDF files, bleeding, page size, tricks to overcome the PDF/x-1a issues, how to ACCURATELY placed  a full-bleed image on the front cover, font sizes and font choices, free websites for other related software and images, etc.

I still look thru our the screenshots in own book every now and then since the book is our office’s Scribus operating manual. The book not only helps our readers, it helps ourselves also.

It was very rewarding: You do NOT even need to read our book line by line, you can learn Scribus by flipping thru our books and looking thru the screenshots like a picture book.

Believe me, you’ll save a lot of money in book cover design, and Scribus is definitely able to do a professional job for your book cover.

Gang Chen, Author/Publisher, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
(http://www.GreenExamEducation.com)
« Last Edit: August 09, 2011, 07:08:40 am by aa_gangchen »

WalksIn2Trees

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I worked for RR Donnelley in prepress, and honestly never once saw a PDF x-1A file the entire time...but then x1a also eliminates a lot of issues that I had to fix regularly (I'm sure they have plants that probably require x-1A, ours was just old and our bulk work was mostly plug and play). 

that being said, I agree with the use of extensive screenshots in lessons and help files... some people are just oriented that way. in fact, that's how I trained one coworker... he literally had to have a screenie of every step!  fortunately he wasn't required to do much extensive modifications but he was able to do basic editing to keep the presses running, and those screenshots allowed him to "remember" things his brain wasn't really wired to do.

Wena

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This thread has highlighted the issue of the PDF/x-1a , one that I have been for several weeks struggling with.

Indeed most of the post on this thread have touched on it.

The book on discussion is to much above my present budget.  Another problem in relation to the book is the immanent realize of   v 1.5 and so on.

Some on this forum seems to be familiar with the  requirements of this PDF/x-1a and I wonder if it can be covered by them to help a beginner like myself.

Wena