Author Topic: Evaluating Scribus - Will it work for me  (Read 8856 times)

Timbow

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Evaluating Scribus - Will it work for me
« on: September 01, 2011, 06:51:39 pm »
Good afternoon all and excuse me for not lurking longer.

I am writing and self publishing a little book and would like to use Scribus to design the finished article and send it to the printer. So I will end up with the following

Perfect bound paperpack
About 100-150 pages
Colour and laminated cover
Some colour pages for photos, maybe 5-10 no
line art and greyscale graphics on a lot of the other pages, although the bulk of the work is text.

Presuming I won't have any trouble learning the program will Scribus do this for me? Specifically I have concerns as follows:

Does Scribus do Books with Page numbers, Chapters, footnotes, index, appendices without reinventing the wheel and without manually checking for instance that all chapters start on a RH page every time I edit anything?
What is the output file? pdf only?
Did I see there is a limit to the number of pages?
Can I export the whole thing to Quark or Indesign to have a professional check it over and tweak it?
Is the text formatting up to professional standards?
So far I have downloaded 1.3.3.14 and am unable to open any kind of document, txt, doc, jpg, pdf, nothing not even the .sla files I downloaded as templates.
Should I be using the more recent version?

I know that is a lot of questions. I would really appreciate some good advice.

T.

John_Jason_Jordan

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Re: Evaluating Scribus - Will it work for me
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2011, 07:47:52 pm »
There are several programs that I would recommend for the book you describe: Scribus (1.4.0 RC5), InDesign, QuarkXPress, or the TeX family. Of these I would personally choose Scribus, with InDesign my second choice, but others will put the TeX family first. My brain is not wired for programming, so I find TeX very difficult to learn and use.

Scribus will run more and more slowly as the number of pages increases, but there is no actual limit as to the number of pages. I would recommend doing each chapter as a separate Scribus file, export each to PDF, then assemble the PDFs with free PDF tools that you can download and install. This will also ensure that each chapter starts on a right hand page.

There is something fundamental that you need to grasp before starting with Scribus. Scribus is a page layout application. When you create a new document you must tell Scribus how many pages it will be and Scribus will then create a document with that many pages, all blank. When you put things on a page they stay exactly where you put them until you manually move them. Adding text at the beginning will not cause graphics or other objects to move down as they would in a word processor. Think of a page as a container. Once you get this notion working with Scribus (or any other layout application) will make a lot more sense.

You should also be aware that Scribus is designed to be the final tool, where text is created in a word processor and graphics are created in graphics applications. These are then imported into Scribus for the final layout.

As to your specific questions:

Scribus does not do page numbers, headers or footers as a word processor does. Instead, Scribus has master pages. You place a page number field on a master page and then apply that master pages to the document pages where you want page numbers. Ditto for headers and footers, or any other object that you want repeated on document pages. You can have as many master pages as you want.

Scribus does not do footnotes or indexes, although they are on the roadmap for future versions. If you have extensive need of these then I recommend one of the other programs mentioned above, TeX being probably the best, although it will take some time to learn it. Footnotes can be done with a simple workaround, although some manual work will be required. I do my writing in OpenOffice.org Writer, which has excellent footnoting capabilities. I set Writer to make them endnotes so they all appear at the end of the document. When I import the Writer file into Scrbus the superscripts will be retained and the footnotes will be at the end. Then I just cut the footnotes off the end of the story and place them as a separate story, linking to frames that I place manually at the bottom of the pages where needed.

Appendices can be treated as just another chapter. You can create a new document for the appendix, import the styles from your chapter documents, then modify the styles for what the appendix needs.

Scribus does an excellent job of exporting as PDF. However, it cannot export to proprietary formats such as used by InDesign and QuarkXPress, nor can it import those formats. However, many printers and publishers have Scribus, so it may not be necessary. Personally, I always export to PDF, make a paper copy, and send the paper copy to my proofreader. It is far easier for them to mark up a paper copy and return it to me than to try to figure out just how the printed page will look when viewing it on a computer screen, in spite of the fact that Scribus is WYSIWIG. Besides, I may not agree with all their markups.

Text formatting in Scribus is excellent, far better than word processors can do. There are only three things that InDesign can do that are not yet implemented in Scribus: 1) multiline composition, meaning that line endings are adjusted based on the entire paragraph, rather than line by line; 2) optical kerning, where letter spacing is adjusted according to the amount of area between the letters rather than the metrics built into the font; and 3) automatic substitution of ligatures and old style numerals (if available in the font). TeX can do multiline composition (in fact it was invented in TeX), but not the other two.

I hope that helps somewhat. In the final analysis you need to install 1.4.0 RC5 and just start using it.
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utnik

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Re: Evaluating Scribus - Will it work for me
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2011, 08:04:15 pm »
hello timbow

a huge project to start with – but scribus should be able to deal with…

…without manually checking for instance that all chapters start on a RH page every time I edit anything?
checking the whole document will be part of the finishing process.

What is the output file? pdf only?
yes. (what else do you need?)

Can I export the whole thing to Quark or Indesign to have a professional check…
no – but you can check the resulting pdf with acrobat. (preflight)

Is the text formatting up to professional standards?
yes.

So far I have downloaded 1.3.3.14 and am unable to open any kind of document, txt, doc, jpg, pdf, nothing not even the .sla files I downloaded as templates.
you can't open the .sla files created by a newer scribus version with the (outdated) 1.3.3.x-branch. i know, the 1.4 is still called unstable. but i would recommend the use of 1.4.0rc5…
you can import files like .jpg, .pdf… into a .sla file, but not open them with scribus – it's not an image processor…

utnik

Timbow

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Re: Evaluating Scribus - Will it work for me
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2011, 12:33:59 am »
Thank you both that is really helpful. I am aware of Quark and Indesign. I am hoping Scribus can do the job because I am guessing it might be a little more shall we say down to earth. I have a hefty job to do but it is just text, images and  lines laid out on the page - I don't need animation, html, interactivity, networking capabilities or any of the bells and whistles of a big program, I just want a good workman's tool. Also I am not running state of the art hardware here. Also I need to learn the program. I have used computers for over twenty years now and have dabbled in graphic design but I really don't want to strain the timetable with an unexpected learning curve. There is some urgency to get the first part of the job done as I may explain. Am I on the right track on that basis?

I will download 1.4 and look at it further as advised. it sounds like I will be able to deal with index, footnotes etc with a little help, and I don't mind buying some memory if I need it, just not a new machine.

Let me explain about the compatibility concerns: A mate of mine is a graphic designer with some talent. There is zero chance that I will be paying him £60/hr to format all 100 pages of my work but very likely he will be helping, advising and consulting in that he may say use this font, align the text there, divide your sub headings such ways, and in effect assisting me to determine an appropriate and professional style sheet or template. If he is using Indesign is there no way in which he can share such information with a Scribus user? That would indeeed be an issue.

I understand I think the idea that you complete the copy, select the images then hand it over to the designer and yes things will not be quite that simple. since I am to be author, editor, picture editor, designer and proof reader it will take some discipline to avoid swapping hats all day. More seriously I have to, if I am to get this project off the ground produce a sort of prototype book. It will be a pdf with a cover , a list of thirty chapters but only one or two in place, although illustrated and designed and laid out to a high standard, like a finished book but with 95% of the content missing. It needs to be a good bit of work because it is with that that I will be trying to secure funding for printing, marketing, maybe purchasing images, maybe some professional design input. It is to be a money making operation and I need to do a good enough job to put a good cover price on it.

I really appreciate it.

Tim W



utnik

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Re: Evaluating Scribus - Will it work for me
« Reply #4 on: September 02, 2011, 01:10:02 am »
A mate of mine is a graphic designer with some talent…

let this mate be your advisor at the beginning of the work with scribus – let him take a look at your document (color profiles, bleed- and safety areas – what ever your printshop requires…) with this you can avoid lots of problems later…

utnik

Meho R.

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Re: Evaluating Scribus - Will it work for me
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2011, 02:54:51 pm »
...

Text formatting in Scribus is excellent, far better than word processors can do. There are only three things that InDesign can do that are not yet implemented in Scribus: 1) multiline composition, meaning that line endings are adjusted based on the entire paragraph, rather than line by line; 2) optical kerning, where letter spacing is adjusted according to the amount of area between the letters rather than the metrics built into the font; and 3) automatic substitution of ligatures and old style numerals (if available in the font). TeX can do multiline composition (in fact it was invented in TeX), but not the other two.
Just a small correction, TeX does use ligatures by default, while oldstyle numbers usage depends on font design: some fonts are designed to use oldstyle numbers (text figures) by default (e.g. exljbris's Calluna or Type-Together's Karmina), while others use lining figures. But still, the substitution (locally or globally) between the two is done very easily if/when necessary. As for optical kerning and other microtypographical fine-tunings, with microtype package TeX actually has much wider set of options than InDesign or any other tool out there can provide, including font protrusion and expansion, context recognizing and switching between various options (even defining specific microtypographical features for every single character in a typeface if need be). This allows producing the output of highest quality possible. Add to that latest Lua implementation of TeX and one gets really a powerful system able to handle most of tasks placed in front of it.

So, Timbow, if you're planning to do the typesetting only occasionally or if layout (not context) is your primary concern, then Scribus is a good choice. But if you're planning to typeset books and do that regularly, or if you want the output of only highest quality typography-side without too much of manual work, then investing some time to learn basics of LaTeX (note "La" in front of "TeX") might be a good idea. Of course, there is always LyX, a frontend for LaTeX which doesn't require knowledge of LaTeX at all, and which functions somehow like a word-processor, hiding most of LaTeX commands and providing convenient buttons and menus for quite a number of options.

So, my recommendations are:
1. For long texts, books, complex material which needs easy and automatic creation of, e.g., TOC, Index, Lists of Tables and Images, organizing cross-references, advanced bibliography features, etc., definitely LaTeX.
2. For magazines, newspapers, brochures and other material for which freedom to move things around freely is a must, Scribus is tool for the job.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2011, 02:57:20 pm by Meho R. »

 

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