I agree with pretty much everything you've said CGood, and have said very similar things on this forum.
My views in this area are liberally scattered around this forum so I won't repeat them here. Suffice to say that I'm all for adding new features into Scribus as long as they add real value
, while at the same time I'd like to see some features removed until they work properly. It would be great if "superfluous" features could be dropped so that the core functionality could be made rock solid.
However, there are some practicalities that need to be taken into consideration:1. The Developers Work For Free
As I'm sure most people know, the time and effort that the developers put into Scribus is expended without recompense. Also, the developers work only when they want to and in their own time. This means that there is no leverage that can be applied to the developers so you can't force anything to happen. There's no "boss" that gets to tell them what to do. Try to force a developer to work on something they don't want to and they'll just walk away, to the detriment of the project. This leads on to...2. People Do What They Like
People like to work on things that they enjoy or are interested in. For instance, more people are likely to want to be working on making a game explosion looking cool than making sure that exception trapping and error reporting is bulletproof. It's just human nature; who wants to check that all zero-division possibilities have been covered when you can work on adding a new cool feature? This leads on to...3. Work Done Has Weight
When someone has put time and effort into something, they have given part of themselves to that thing. The thing becomes "infused" with part of their life. Because of this, some developers can get emotionally attached to their creations. Some even refer to the software as their "baby". They can no more remove something from the software than they could take something from their child. This is coupled with...4. There Are No Usage Statistics
There is no way of knowing which parts of Scribus are actually being used and therefore no way of knowing which parts can be "safely" removed. To put it another way, for every person saying "I want this removed" there will be another saying "Hey, I was using that". Removing features that people are using will more likely drive people away from Scribus even if - in the long run - it is the "right" thing to do (whatever "right" means). This is also coupled with...5. Most Users Like Simplicity
I think it would be safe to say that most Scribus users are not technically proficient with all aspects of computers. Most people just want to put a quick document together, and they don't have the time/patience/experience to learn another application. For instance, Inkscape can create vector art that is far superior to what can be created in Scribus but if someone can't learn how to properly use Inkscape (for whatever reason) then they're going to stick with what Scribus can do. The same goes for GIMP and others. This leads on to...6. Experts Can Do Their Own Thing
If someone knows how to, for instance, use GIMP to create/manipulate an image and then import it into Scribus then they are free to do so. They can bypass the Scribus image tools and use whatever software they're comfortable with. No-one is forcing them to use anything. The same goes for tables, vectors, etc. etc. If an expert doesn't like the way that Scribus does, for example, tables then they can ignore the tools that Scribus gives them and use something else. Non-experts, on the other hand, may not be comfortable using external tools and just want to "get something done" even if it's simplistic. If someone wants more, then they will have to put the effort in to learn more.Summary(?)
(Is anyone still reading this?) Anyway, in the past I've suggested adding new features and also suggested that some features should be removed. To take two specific instances, personally I think Scribus could do with a better way of zooming and have given a suggestion of how to do this, while on the other hand I can't think of a reason why Scribus has a "Fish Eye Lens" tool and have suggested removing it. This was all from my own personal point of view and I'm sure that other people have their own. What's best for one person may not be best for another.
If the Scribus developers were organised in such a way that they could be assigned roles and goals by some controlling force then I'm sure it would be possible for the core Scribus code to become rock solid while, at the same time, certain peripheral functions could be "side-tracked". However, as it is, the developers do what they want to do and there's nothing anyone can do about it. And there's nothing that should be done about it either.
Trying to force volunteers to do something they don't want to do just makes the volunteers walk away and everyone is worse off. (CGood: I'm not suggesting that you'd like to force anything, this is for the general readership.)
The developers do - and have done - a fantastic job in getting Scribus where it is today. It's a very important piece of software that's woefully under-supported considering how many people use it. It all comes down to what could be an open source mantra: "If you want to improve something, learn to code and then improve it". As an example, take Martin's excellent work on the Indigo Dock http://forums.scribus.net/index.php/topic,1617.0.html
I don't think anyone asked him to do it but he took up the challenge for himself and it's been coming along very nicely indeed. I have my fingers crossed that enough work is done on it that it becomes the new interface for Scribus. That would be a lovely success story.
One final note: While I've said that getting developers to work on specifics is pretty much impossible - especially with such a small team as Scribus has - I'm still sure that discussions about how things should work are important. Even if nothing comes of them in the short term, there's a chance that someone looking for a little coding project might find them and have a go at improving things. And if these improvements get into the Scribus code then we all benefit.