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Scribus => General Discussion => Topic started by: Derek on August 08, 2017, 07:14:13 pm

Title: Another Possible New Scribus User Looking For A Path
Post by: Derek on August 08, 2017, 07:14:13 pm
Hi All,

I'm the editor of a monthly community magazine which I inherited in Microsoft Publisher. I'm also fairly new to Linux. I'm on a mission to ditch everyting that's Microsoft branded - ever since Windows 10 started hijacking my laptop to install updates. I'm on a not very fast rural broadband connection, so a major update can take up to 8 to 10 hours. For some reason the Microsoft Monster always makes its presence known just after my copy deadline, during editing or before my print deadline.  >:(

My Linux Mint installation, on the other hand, is very polite. It never interferes with my life.  8)

Microsoft rant over. It's on it's way out of my life. For the first time in my life I feel free!  :)

Now, the question of the magazine which I currently edit in MS Publisher 2010 in a Windows 7 virtual machine. It's a bit graunchy and slow - my 64 bit hardware won't run 64 bit virtual machines. WINE isn't a good solution as MS Publisher doesn't run very well under WINE. It's rated as unstable and unusable for production by WineHQ. When the time comes to hand it on I, strictly should hand it over to the next incumbent in Publisher. However, I can see that there may be advantages in migrating to Scribus. Mostly that Scribus is available for Mac, Windows and Linux at zero cost for the next editor if they would rather not have to buy MS Publisher.

I've started with the Scribus learning curve. I've created a passable copy of the front cover  of last month's edition, and will carry on with some of the boilerplate pages (parish directories and advertising that are carried forward from month to month). For this I've installed 1.5.3 - the development version. Bearing in mind that I need reasonable stability, but don't mind hitting problems along the way, would it be advisable to take a step back to the official stable release before I get too far down the road with 1.5.3, or is 1.5.3 stable enough to continue with?

I also maintain the publication's sister web site - mainly an event calendar with some front-page news items - in WordPress. A long term goal is to be able to download the month's new web content in a format suitable for easy (enough) import into Scribus - accepting, of course, that some formatting will be necessary.

Given that I am far from experienced with Scribus does this sound, to those of you who are, like a sensible approach? Are there any major pitfalls and pratfalls I should be aware of? The first of these, I think I'm beginning to realise, is that the learning curve and documentation are likely to be very offputting for possible future editors  - though I am trying to find suitable volunteers who might want to take up publishing as either a full- or part-time career and, so, might benefit from learning Scribus which they may find used by future employers/customers. :-\

Title: Re: Another Possible New Scribus User Looking For A Path
Post by: GarryP on August 09, 2017, 11:23:13 am
Welcome to the forum Derek.

Personally I would advise that you use the current stable 1.4.6 version of Scribus rather than any developmental version. There are various reasons for this, some of which are listed below:

The stable version has been around - without changes - for at least 18 months. This means that almost all of the usual bugs and weirdness have already been encountered and fixes/work-arounds are known. Because of this, if you come up against a problem it's likely that someone else has already been in the same situation and can advise on what to do. Also, more people are using the stable version so, even if you have a unique issue that's not been seen before, there are more people that are likely to be able to help and get you back up-and-running quicker (very handy if you have deadlines).

Some people are not comfortable with using developmental versions of software. Because of this, if you expect that someone else will take over the reins of editorship, using the stable version will mean that more people could be potential candidates. I.e. If you use 1.5.x and try and pass it on to someone who will only use 1.4.6 then they're not going to be able to edit the document as 1.4.6 cannot open 1.5.x documents. Best to keep to the version that most people will be comfortable using.

While the Scribus team frequently suggests that the core of the developmental versions is pretty stable for most users, if you are coming to Scribus afresh then it will be practically impossible for you to know which functions are core functions and which are not. This means that you will have no way of knowing which functions you should stay away from because they could cause trouble. As you don't know which functions are experimental you could end up having a lot more problems than you would wish for.

It can also be more difficult to get the latest developmental version of Scribus up-and-running. There are usually builds for Windows and OSX but I've heard that it can be difficult to get 1.5.x running on Linux depending on which version of which flavour of Linux you're using. And any future editor may not want to change Linux flavour just to use Scribus.

Also, the latest developmental version can change significantly from time to time which means that the developmental version that you use could be very different from one that someone else is using. Because of this, you could encounter problems where some functions either no longer exist or work in very different ways. Passing documents between people using different developmental versions could be a nightmare (especially if you have deadlines).

In addition to this, documentation for Scribus is patchy at best, and that's for the latest stable version. Most of the documentation that exists was written prior to 1.4.6 but is still pretty relevant to 1.4.6. A lot of the UI for 1.5.x has changed quite considerably and so most of the current documentation would have to be interpreted - rather than just followed - and that will make the learning experience much harder than it needs to be. Documentation for the developmental versions of Scribus - especially the new functionality - may not be around for a long time (if ever), so experimentation may be required.

So, all said, I would stick with 1.4.6 if I was you. It's been around for ages, how it works is well-known, and it's more accessible to more people.

As for your longer-term goal of importing content into Scribus, that's something that could well be possible but it really depends on specifics and how much you want to automate things. Probably best not to think about this until you need to go down that road. Once you need to think about it I'm sure there will be people who can help.

I hope what I've said has made it easier for you to decide on your next steps.
Title: Re: Another Possible New Scribus User Looking For A Path
Post by: a.l.e on August 09, 2017, 11:55:11 am
garry is right.

one small complement from my side: start with 1.4.

if you're happy with stick with it.

if you miss something important, try 1.5 and see if it's fixed / implemented there.

at the end judge what you prefer. keeping in mind that 1.5 is a moving target. it moves slowly, but it moves (in big leaps if you stick to the development releases and don't use the latest snapshots)
Title: Re: Another Possible New Scribus User Looking For A Path
Post by: Derek on August 09, 2017, 12:40:49 pm
Thank you. Garry and a.l.e. All very good points.

The one about handing over a file that'll only open in a development version of Scribus is, I think, the show-stopper. I have past experience with software design,  development and testing but, TBH, I'm not finding the learning curve for 1.5.3 easy and It would be unreasonable to expect others to be happy with it.  Given the exceedingly long history of the transition from 1.4 to 1.6 I cannot be confident that the next stable release will be launched any time in the next couple of years. Certainly not a complaint - just the way it is and what I have to plan around. I'll also need to test that what I produce in Linux also works in Windows (but I won't be able to test OS/X).

I'll be installing the current stable release today. I'll then need to see how it differs from 1.5.3 and see if it can do all I need to do. The magazine is probably not the most complex publication being produced in Scribus and, being greyscale due to printing limitations, simpler than most. I'd be surprised if the official current stable release can't cope.

The real attraction to 1.5.3, for me, was the possibility of being able to open Publisher files but, TBH, that doesn't appear to be working well for me at the moment. I seem to be gravitating to creating the magazine from scratch, which gets me through the learning curve quicker. I have a contributor who sends copy in Publisher format but that's only a bit over 2 pages a month. I'm not about to push her into the Scribus learning curve. In the worst case - open it in Publisher and copy/paste the components out or save it as an image.

Title: Re: Another Possible New Scribus User Looking For A Path
Post by: GarryP on August 09, 2017, 03:05:00 pm
You're welcome Derek.

You should be okay transferring Scribus documents from one OS to another but make sure you use "File -> Collect for Output" to gather all the images and fonts (and more) together in a ZIP so that the other people get everything. This is because a Scribus document doesn't - normally - contain images or things like that. Instead, it links to the things like images on the disk, which makes the SLA file smaller and lets you change the image without needing to change anything in Scribus.

It's worth pointing out - as a general point to anyone reading this - that one issue you might have when transferring documents is when someone uses fonts that have copyright issues. This is too big an area to explain here but if you make sure you only use fonts that are freely available on all OSes then you shouldn't have too much of a problem. If in doubt, use fonts from a reputable supplier of free fonts (a few examples are here: ) and you shouldn't go wrong.

I know that there are some 1.4.6 functions that don't work in some OSes - e.g. the colour picker doesn't work properly in OSX - but most of the usual stuff should work just fine on all systems. Also, a little while back there was an issue with colour management on Linux Mint (,2464.0.html ) but I don't know if this has since been resolved.

The stable version of Scribus can help you to produce lots of different things (some examples here: ) so, unless you have some specific requirements - RTL text, special PDF version, etc. - you can probably do whatever you want. You can also have a look at the "Showcase" section of this forum (,3.0.html ) for some more examples of what Scribus can produce. (All of the things produced by me were done with 1.4.6 - or earlier - in conjunction with other products such as GIMP and Inkscape.)

Can the contributor that uses Publisher give you output as PDF? If you don't need to edit what they give you then you can create page-sized image frames and import the PDF into those frames. Then set each each frame to display the correct page using the "Page Number" setting in the Properties Palette / Image tab. You can then add page numbers - or whatever - over the top of the image frames to make them fit your publication. (The PDF might look a bit fuzzy on-screen - even with the Preview Settings set to Full Resolution for some reason - but it should export just fine. Try it and see what you think.)

One other thing I might just mention is that Scribus has a Greyscale output function in "File -> Export -> Save as PDF / Colour / Output Intended For". You might like to experiment with this but I've not used it myself so I can't say how well it works. Just something that might be worth knowing.
Title: Re: Another Possible New Scribus User Looking For A Path
Post by: mnawij on August 10, 2017, 06:09:08 am
Welcome Derek

I am not sure where you are at on the Scribus learning curve, but I have attached a couple items to help with the basics that I had knocking around on one of my external drives. Had to reduce the resolution to make the file sizes smaller.  I have been using 1.5.3 for several dozen Scribus jobs with only a couple of minor hiccups that I found workarounds for. But if the jobs are critical I would also recommend the stable version.  I would not worry about the color management for what you are doing and I have asked customers with publisher to create .pdf, .rtf, .txt, .jpg, and .tif files depending on what I needed at the time to update my artwork.  Also, when publisher "collects" pack n go I think is what M$ calls it, you will have access to all of the image files and fonts to recreate the original job.  I always ask for a .jpg of the pages to view when recreating when possible.  I do not know how comfortable you are with the terminal command line yet, but there are several commands for extracting both text and images from pdf files.  Also I believe the newest Publisher will save to the .odt and .doc formats which libreoffice does a decent job of opening... at least to be able to copy and paste text but not images.
Good luck to you and this is the right place to ask questions as they come about.


Title: Re: Another Possible New Scribus User Looking For A Path
Post by: Derek on August 11, 2017, 12:48:36 am
Hi All

I decided to bite the bullet with 1.4.6 and recreate some pages of the last (August) edition. The first two pages are mostly boilerplate, anyway, so will form much of a template for the Scribus edition. Page 2 is also, coincidentally, the most complex page in the magazine - so is excellent for a trial run and to get me through much of the learning curve.

Using the MS Publisher (live) edition as a master I've been able to create virtually identical copies in Scribus. I haven't actually printed anything, yet, but the previews look good. I'm reasonably confident that readers will be unaware that anything has changed.

From what I've done so far I anticipate that Scribus is going to be faster to work with than MS Publisher in a Windows 7 32 bit virtual machine.

I've, obviously, still got to start finding hints, tips and shortcuts for improving how I work - but most of that will be buried somewhere in the forum.

Title: Re: Another Possible New Scribus User Looking For A Path
Post by: founder on August 13, 2017, 03:08:53 pm
I wrote my second book 2012-2013 in English and German in the same document (layer switching with general, english, german)
416 pages DIN A5 with many graphics. Sent the PDF direct to the printing company to China. All worked well.

This had been done by different 1.4 versions.

Last year, I moved from Windows 8 to Linux Ubuntu 16.0.4

Just had to install some fonts more and my book looked like in the Windows version of Scribus.