Scribus UI/UX and Styles

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The previous thread died, so I will start a new thread, as the forum advised.

I currently teach design, using the industry standard Adobe InDesign. However, I have no wish to exclusively promote commercial software, and so (re)turned to Scribus to see what changes had occurred in the last while. This is my first forum post, since I am actively concerned at this point. I had thought that after 15 years of development Scribus might be in a better state.

I have many issues with Scribus but will start with workflow, since this is the most important aspect. Yes, the features must be there, but unless the software is efficient to use, it will not be taken up.

I have read and commented on Martin Reininger's slideshow that proposes some excellent changes to the panels.

The biggest problem currently in the workflow is the character and paragraph formatting. These properties should be assigned through styles. Doing otherwise is the hack "word processor" approach, which Scribus should not be promoting.

However, given that some users may still want to work the ad hoc way, direct property editing cannot be forbidden. But the current workflow makes it the high priority approach, erecting barriers to the proper workflow.

In particular, there is no way to edit a style from the Text Properties panel. I must open a separate Style Manager dialogue, which is not a dockable panel. Once a style is defined, I must return to the Text Properties panel to apply it. This is a terrible workflow.

I recommend that the Text Properties panel be redesigned as a style panel. The Style Manager can then be removed as superfluous. In fact, any dialogues one may need to work with regularly should be replaced by panels.

To accommodate those not using styles, there can be one default style for each type (character, paragraph, etc.) that applies anywhere an actual style has not been explicitly defined. The workflow will then be identical in all cases:

First, select an existing style or create a new once. Second, alter its properties, which would be displayed directly underneath the style name. If the "default" style is selected, the current text would be directly updated.

This method would be superior even to InDesign, because the large character/paragraph toolbar in that program encourages users to make modification in the context area, even though this is usually the incorrect approach.

I hope this explanation suffices. I short, I am proposing two things. First, a more fluid and customisable panel system, as Martin suggests. Second, a styles system that is much easier to use.


I am a fairly recent user and observer of Scribus which I now recognise to be the only route to open source publishing on my Ubuntu platform.  Alternative proprietary tools are too costly. And I prefer Ubuntu to Windows.

My interest is in integrating Scribus into my development framework where content can be rapidly generated and customised and indeed personalised on the fly, and as a bonus allowing the same content to also flow to an online publication channel (website).  Scribus of course is a print only layout engine and different colour profiles are required in these two modes.

I am not sure of your workflow environment. Windows/Linux/Mac? And version of Scribus you are exploring.

Have you considered importing default styles from pre-prepared Scribus templates?

Have you explored what Scribus scripting can offer to extend Scribus? ... ... is another ingenious script.

Follow this video ...

You can setup your Scribus documents using csv file containing your variables (object properties) to be applied (including styles).  In that video (at around 13 minutes in) is a reference to using xpath (see further below).  Look at the ScribusGenerator download master and you will see example *.sla socument templates going beyond simple business cards.


I have followed the slideshow you linked to but in my view the alternative proposed UI panel layout is just as confusing.  Only the necessary UI controls should be shown to the user.

My approach is to build a leaner UI above and mapped to the lower Scribus UI layer.  Scribus scripts in fact target the Scribus API. A customised UI can be built in web browser to "drive" Scribus XML document model.  Scribus elements can in fact be targetted using xpath queries, avoiding panels.

In summary, take the UI design into your own hands and regard Scribus as a very useful layout engine embedded in your custom framework.

The Scribus *.sla file is an XML file.  I have applied xquery to change properties of Scribus objects.

Examine the structure of any *.sla file in XMLCopyEditor ...

Look at the xpath of elements (and recollect where xpath is used in ScribusGenerator).

The advantage of using xpath to target Scribus as an XML document is that Scribus documents can be processed in the cloud, opening up possibility of collaborative layout (rather like InDesign).


There are other approaches I have tried, such as using automation scripts to "drive" Scribus GUI objects and menus, but to avoid confusion the above is enough for starters.


yes, i agree with you that creating and updating styles from the text palette (TP) should be possible (and the preferred way to do it!)

in the past i've made similar proposals:

- remove the "no style" thing: every bit of text *must* have a style
- separate the style manager (which shows the list of styles and allows to create / delete / import styles) from the dialog that defines the styles.
- add buttons in the PP for creating (new or from selection) and edit (optionally updating from selection) styles.

i wonder if you would welcome such changes.
they would not be that hard to program...

you're proposal seems to be even more radical...
but i'm not sure i understood it correctly.

can you give more details on the part where you say that the styles would be almost mandatory?


@rparmar, can i ask you what's your goal for this thread?

the topic is interesting, now i wonder what would be the next steps...

Pexim SLani

Scribus is the future, I believe  8)

I had a very difficult time to learn the basics in Scribus, cos I'm not a pro. I want to use Free Software apps cos of my beliefs. I was Indesign user, but not any more, cos I switched to Linux, for good.

Before 1,5 year, I've discovered Viva Designer 9.5 and tried it on my Ubuntu 16.04. I was super surprised how simple UI is and how intuitive software Viva Designer is. I had 0 problems to learn it.

I think that Scribus Devs have to investigate UI of Viva Designer.

I'm not promoting proprietary software, I'm just saying that we don't need to "invent hot water". 


I love some of the proposed design changes. Especially the tabs (possibly having vertical text like corel draw tabs too!) on the side instead of tabs at the bottom and moving the toolbar to the left.


Hello all... I'm a DTP (DeskTop Publishing) graphic designer for nearly 20 years, my primary "tool" is Adobe InDesign, but I'm also interested in alternatives so I have tryed Scribus. OH MY GOD THIS IS SO... how to say it politely... AWFUL!!!! UI of this DTP app is... oh my god... e.g. the way how you select the colors... AWFUL!!!! I have NEVER imagined that any DTP application can be designed THAT BADLY! So what now? I STROGLY recommend to ANYONE who is able to modify this... thing... to see OLD InDesign CS2 (year 2005) in action, to UNDERSTAND what is DTP about!!!
BTW old InDesign CS2 (NOT CS 5, 6 or CC) has, in my opinion, the BEST UI and it was the time when Adobe InDesign developers understood desktop publishing the best... and for years it's completely FREE from Adobe site.


dear bkf1

we cannot copy indesign. you know: copyrights.

but if there are specific things you want to see changed, make a detailed description, provide icons and so on for each change.

telling: "just make it better, other people do it better", won't help much, to get scribus to improve, sorry.

and i'm glad you're happy using CS2 for free. that's your right!

(btw, if you want to have a look at scribus, you should download 1.5, not 1.4. it's not as good as it should be... but imo a big improvements... at least concerning the usability!)


Dear a.l.e,
I know you cannot copy InDesign mechanisms BUT you can be INSPIRED by it. Publishing is about UNDERSTANDING how it works, what is important (what must be at hand) etc. and sorry but I have a feeling that Scribus developers haven't understand DTP very clearly.
You can also be inspired by thread in this forum,1617.0.html (user tim_occ and his Indigo project). I see he UNDERSTAND what is DTP about but unfortunately he apparently ended his work :(

Anyway you really must change the way how to define/change colour in Scribus. Look in ANY other publishing applications how EASY is to define/change colour of an object and how INCREDIBLY HARD is to do the same in Scribus (1.5.4 of course).

I hope that not only I but even others will see the progress of Scribus in the future...

BTW in attachment you can see how easy is to define/change colour of an object in Inkscape.

[attachment deleted by admin]


i think that you have missed the part where i mostly agree with tim_occ (up the the plan to split everything in small widgets that float around... because of:

defining resources in place (colors, styles)  is something i've been wanting for years, but somebody has to do the coding work and i have other priorities.
what about you?

we probably do different kind of works with scribus, but creating and applying colors is the last thing i find hard in scribus.
applying character and paragraph styles is something that made me suffering... since i know how to program, i have a patch i've been using for years... sadly, there was technical reason that made it hard to distribute it to other people... but that might be partially solved now and it might get in soon...
i got other people to improve other specific parts, in fields in which i'm not so proficient. by describing exactly what i needed, why and how to improve it. it did not always work, but it sometimes did.

finally, your rant comes over like telling a mum that her child looks ugly, just look at that other child his dad makes her look so cute. just do the same as him.
maybe you don't understand that mother's esthetic, maybe there are reasons why her child looks the way he looks, maybe you should give that child an ice cream and when he starts smiling, you will notice that he is also soooooo cute... even with one leg...
or maybe that mum needs some help... and judgemental guys are the last thing she needs.

tu capisce?