My Personal Review of Scribus

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Craig Mattice

I must say this is some very impressive software involving many neat tips, tricks, and gadgets I had never been exposed to before.  I've been working on my first, and probably only, book project since 1/1/11 using primarily MS Word 2007.  I've utilized as many free resources I could find, and there are many available.  Being on Social Security Disability, money is a serious consideration.  Also, since I am totally disabled and home bound, I have the luxury of spending as many hours as I can on the project and teaching myself the software.

I discovered Scribus totally by accident online.  Researched it on its own website and liked what I saw.  Ironically learning the program was not to difficult, but the first part of the project overview is correct in every sense of the word, "This is not a word processing software, but a desktop publishing software.  What applies to one does not necessarily apply to the other."  Man!  Was that a true statement.  I tested out the assets of the software while teaching myself DTP by designing, creating, and full development of my book's cover.  Wow, was I and everybody I showed it to very impressed.  I love the technological safeguards of pre-flight, embedding fonts and color controls.  I am highly satisfied with the outstanding quality of the book cover and low difficulty level to accomplish the project.

Attempting to learn how to do a 180 page book is a whole different animal.  I felt forced to use the 1.3 version because I could best relate to the video tutorials.  The 1.4 was way out of my comprehension level.  The tutorials, and support information are great, but still very challenging for me to understand and apply.  DTP is excellent for someone who really knows what they are doing and how to do it, resulting in a superior product especially utilizing Scribus over the other expensive software.  For a novice like me, there is actually too much control of what can be accomplished.  With all of the scaling up and down of paragraph and font spacing, the lack of clean transfer for the content from my MS Word document to Scribus was a real mess.  I spent 60 percent of my time screwing up, figuring out what I had done, and going back to start all over to correct it.  The "Undo" under edit undoes nothing at all but my nerves. 

After spending countless hours trying to input my content and having to do it one page at a time, I was frustrated I could not "import" or combine my finished Word document as a PDF into Scribus, even though it indicates this can be done.  I came to the conclusion Scribus creates its own monopoly of their software by only accepting its own .sla, svg, or whatever, over PDF, doc, docx or any other format.  Therefore, the entire 180 page process became very labor intensive copying and pasting each page at a time using the story editor and then only after realizing I had to learn and create styles for each category.  I learned if one word in formatting is changed back at the beginning, that change cascades all the way through to the fifth chapter and I had to reformat all over again.

All-in-all, I really like the software and wish I had the time to learn it more efficiently.  There are many neat things provided, but confusing coming from a strong word processing background. I've not hesitated in referring this software to many other people vs. having to pay for Acrobat and Adobe products. 

On this book project and in the end here are the results.  I showed the finished versions of my book content to my wife.  I said nothing and asked which she thought has the best presentation, balance, ease of reading and pleasant appearance.  Within five minutes she chose the PDF from MS Word 2007 and listed many reasons why.  Of course I realize this is a direct result of not knowing DTP at all prior to this experience and I could have paid someone to do it for me.  No such luck in either case.

You have a great product here is only some of the more obvious abilities were spelled out and made easy like pulling in Word documenting and PDFs directly into Scribus as a full document.  I know I could be missing something here so don't take these comments personally.

Just sharing my personal experience that may or may not assist others.  You have a good thing here it just needs to get more input from someone with a Word background to mesh things more smoothly.
Craig Mattice
New User, New Author


Quote from: Craig Mattice on June 26, 2011, 03:55:08 PM
I came to the conclusion Scribus creates its own monopoly of their software by only accepting its own .sla, svg, or whatever, over PDF, doc, docx or any other format. 

It really is the other way around.

The devevlopers would love to be able to create an import filter for MS Word documents, however the format of Word files is not open to the public, so it would need a lot of reverse engineering to create such a filter (or a lot of money paid to Microsoft, and then the source for such a filter would probably have to be closed).

Since Scribus is Open Source, anybody who wants to develop such an import filter is free to do it. And the Scribus SLA file format is also public, anybody can write a program that can interpret SLA files.

The best shot is to import Word documents into Open Office, because Scribus can import Open Office files.

Craig Mattice

This does not surprise me at all regarding Microsoft.  Unlike programs such as Scribus, Open Office and many other open source programs, we all know Microsoft is not out for the greater good.  I seriously considered rolling over to Open Office as I've used them in the past and they are very easy to work with at every level.  It was just too much to think about using another software to update myself and move forward.

I spent some time trying to find no-cost DTP software to accomplish my perceived "desires," but decided if I'm going to invest the time, why not become very good at understanding and using Scribus for this project?  A good decision on my part.

I realize many of my personal comments are inaccurate assumptions, based on my ignorance of what fantastic abilities Scribus really has to offer, and therefore apologize and take full responsibility upon myself.

Scribus is a KEEPER and will be the first place I go for any project in the future that may come along.  As I said, all in all Scribus has been a great experience, fun to learn, surprised at the neat new abilities available, and definitely is not a word processor.

I am a tad disappointed of the many good points an ignorant novice to DTP made of Scribus, only a negative point was addressed.  Albeit, a very important point requiring addressing which answers many related questions.  My heartfelt "THANK YOU" to all of the people making Scribus possible and "GOOD JOB!"
Craig Mattice
New User, New Author


interesting report...

discussing your topics with the community or with people around you, may be even more interesting than writing a report at the end, though :-)

as an example, you could have discovered, that you could have opened your .doc or .docx files with openoffice or with with google docs and saved them as .odt files.
and then imported into a scribus file.


Craig Mattice

To a.l.e.,

Just the kind of quality useful information that has added a great deal to the positive experience of Scribus.  I appreciate your response and insights.  You've added just a few more tips and tricks to exploiting the powers of Scribus by using only parts of Open Office, but allowing the accomplishment of so many other tasks.

This entire thread is going into my Bookmarks under Scribus tips & tricks.  Believe me, the next time I need what Scribus has to offer that will be my first stop and if still stymied, this will be my second.

Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to this thread a.l.e.
Craig Mattice
New User, New Author