Author Topic: Open Documentation Project - Help us use Scribus  (Read 3469 times)


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Open Documentation Project - Help us use Scribus
« on: January 11, 2014, 04:25:43 pm »

I volunteer for FSMK (, a FOSS advocacy group based in Bangalore, India. We are taking up a community project to create a comprehensive lab manual for engineering Universities around here which will help them shift their labs to FOSS. It will be released under Creative Commons. The idea is to make it available online as a collaborative open project and also as a printable document which can be distributed to students and faculty.

During 23-25 January 2014, we are organizing a 'Doc-a-thon' which will see a participation of 80-100 volunteers working to collaborate and create this manual. The content will include
  • instructions on using some free software like Ubuntu, GCC, GDB, Eclipse, Ruby, Apache, Unix Shell Scripting etc.
  • related screenshots
  • sample source code
  • explanations to the algorithms used in the code

I have some amateur experience with Scribus and even tried patching a couple of bugs, but most of the people who are gonna take part do not. Training people on scribus is not feasible within the time that we have.

[Query] What is the best workflow to manage this project and use Scribus for publishing?
One approach I have is to keep the content creation and formatting+laying-out separate. That way everyone need not 'learn' using Scribus and the content can be put into markdown files that can be version controlled. I experimented this way and found that after generating HTML from markdown, importing it into scribus keeps the formatting, but drops images. I understand how scribus handles images. Now what is the best way to import the text from HTML maintain the relationship with images even if they are imported separately? Is it possible to hack together a script?

[Query] Is there any other text-only format other than markdown which is suitable in this scenario?

[Query] Is there a totally-different cooler and better approach to this?

We sincerely want to use Scribus for this program. I am sure this can generate enough interest in some participants to take up developing Scribus as well.

Thanks to all of you who make/made Scribus possible.



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Re: Open Documentation Project - Help us use Scribus
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2014, 11:16:39 pm »
What is your reason for using Scribus?

I am asking because many people try to use Scribus where they would get almost the same result using for example Libre Office, LaTeX or something else.

Scribus can be used for most task, but since Scribus has very little automation it is not yet the most flexible tool for some task.

IMO you should only use Scribus for tasks where you want to (or need to) have full control over each page. You will (more or less) need to place items on a page one by one.

In this case I really think it would be easier for you to use Libre Office, or why not use something like DocBook?


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Re: Open Documentation Project - Help us use Scribus
« Reply #2 on: January 12, 2014, 07:05:11 pm »
FYI there is a development project to creating a markdown importer here:
It's not complete yet.

Edit: Doesn't look like it supports importing images though.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2014, 07:07:25 pm by Kunda »


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Re: Open Documentation Project - Help us use Scribus
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2014, 03:40:29 pm »
Sarath, I know this is a Scribus forum - and this might sound a little controversial - but I think what you need to create is a Wiki.

If you want to "make it available online as a collaborative open project" then putting it in Scribus is probably not a good idea. Scribus can be difficult to learn from scratch so people may be put off from joining in. Also, it's difficult to collaborate on document creation using Scribus - it's just not set-up for it. And, a PDF is static once created - except for individual annotations - and as such can't be "fixed" when changes are necessary.

You don't need to use any special software (MediaWiki etc.) to create a Wiki. All you need is some space you can give people read/write access to and some basic HTML/CSS.

Google Drive with Editey looks like a good, free, combination that could be useful as a collaboration space but, of course, others are available.

HTML - as you probably already know - is easy to pick up, so the people collaborating on the project will be up-to-speed quickly and it's a standard markup that is very well documented. If you use a sensible file naming convention then linking between pages shouldn't be too hard.

You can get perfectly functional and easy to use CSS that works out of the box from loads of places. I'd personally recommend Foundation to get up-and-running quickly but that's a personal choice. You can then create a separate stylesheet for use when printing - if necessary - so people can read it on-screen or from a printed page and your content will be the same. (The "print" can always be sent to a PDF driver for physical distribution.)

I know this isn't a very "Scribusy" answer but I really wouldn't recommend using Scribus for what you are doing. It will take too long for contributors to get up-to-speed, you'll have problems with concurrent changes during editing, and your final output will be static.

Other solutions are available - Wiki software as already mentioned, Help file creators, Open/LibreOffice as mentioned by Nermander, and many others - but what I've suggested should be easy to implement and use. If you focus more on the content at the start it'll give you more time to look at alternatives later, if they're really needed.

Anyway, I hope this answer has been of some help and hasn't annoyed any of the Scribus community. I'm all for using Scribus - just look at how many posts I've written here - but only when it's the right thing to be using.