Master Document for long works?

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Good day everyone,

as a user of Scribus (currently using the development version) I'm very proud of all its features, which are really professional. The version 1.5.4 suits the most of my current needs.

There is just one major problem when I'm working with it, because I want to layout books (which, sometimes, can be really long).

At this moment (09/2017) it is quite problematic to work with long documents and chains of text. The solution would be quite simple: to have two types of documets: -regular documents, and -master documents. By master document I mean an archive which includes and syncronize the regular documents. That's possible in InDesign (they call it "Book"), and even in LibreOffice (master document).

Does someone knows, if Scribus will have (someday in the medium future) such option?  Or if the team are even interested in the improvement of Scribus working with long documents?

Right now I used Scribus for simple designs and for finishing other projets from Gimp or Inkscape. But Scribus would have, in my opinion, much more potential if it would have any kind of master document, to split the long documents.

Thanks for your answers in advance  :)

(P.S.: I made a small research to see what Scribus Trunk or Indigo are developping right now, but it seems to me that most of the work are about Scribus' front-end)


yes, that would be a good feature!

if you can put up a list of features you would like to have in master pages, i can check what i can do with a python script...



Dear a.l.e.,

thanks a lot for your fast answer, and even more for its content. I didn't expect such a positive reply  :)

I have no idea of programing, that's why I can't even imagine the difficulties of that idea. But, nevertheless, I created the following design with Inkscape, how it could be the tool we are talking about:

List of minimal features:

-Open Master Documents
-Export Master Documents, which means: Scribus can merge and export several single documents as one PDF, without opening every single document (for a large book, we would save an amazing amount of resources). It would be extremly powerfull, if we can export a 300 pages book, for example, without opening all the documents/chapters. If Scribus doesn't need to open the documents for exporting them, but just export the Master Document.
-Synchronize the numbering of all documents within a Master Document
-And here, I guess, a difficult one: creating an index of contents using all the documents within a Master Document.

Of course, it could be always improved and improved, implementing more advanced features, but if Scribus would do the things described above... Well, it would be an amazing jump of quality for Scribus, from my point of view.

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well, the first step would be to synchronize the page numbers...
and create one pdf per file, which you can merge with external programs.

no gui.

i will not even try to support the attributes based table of contents.
so i consider that scribus cannot create a table of contents.
but as soon as the "real" style based table of contents exists, an interface for the scripter might be very useful!

if i have some time on friday i can try to create a prototype:
- create a text file with the list of files in the right order
- launch a script that starts scribus and
  - open each document in the list and find the information about page numbers
  - if it's not the first file, apply that information to each section in the document (increase the start page number)
  - create a pdf of each file
  - eventually use a pdftool to merge all files

i'm not sure that the scripter api supports all this, but i can give a try.

the mockup you have created looks neat... but i fear it's still a bit far away... but a poor man master document system could be possible.
(a real master document is not really hard... but there are some important decision to be taken, on how it could be implemented...)


That would be a really amazing first step.

If I can help in any way possible, don't hesitate in contacting me. I would be proud of being usefull for Scribus :)


Great feature.

In Adobe InDesign is ths implemented since eternity. At least since CS2 is it implemented (2005).

InDesign saves its files in .indd, templates in .indt and books in .indb - it would be great to have new file formats for books as well. Something like .slab


Here is another request for this feature. Thanks.



I'm bumping this old post because I think it's a great idea!

However, I get along without it so far, with the PDF merge routine outlined by A.L.E,
and keeping all chapters in separate files with the page numbers set consecutively.


Hi jack_cat,

how do you merge the PDFs? My problem with merging is that only Scribus meets the professional standards for printing (with Scribus is possible to choose many variables while exporting a PDF and I'm not aware of any other libre software that capable).

Should I guess you have to create manually the table of contents, since you work with several documents?



Hi joesber,

Quotehow do you merge the PDFs?

I didn't use it with Scribus genereated PDFs but I'm reorganizing PDF-files with the PDF-Tookit (pdftk).
It should also work with Scribus' extended featured PDFs, because pdftk does not manipulate the content of the PDF-pages but handles only the whole page – at least if you only use PDFs containing the same Scribus-generated settings.

As a linux user, I'm fine with the free commandline version, but for Windows there is also a GUI edition and a "Pro-Version" for some few coins.
For Linux systems:  This tool is part of the repositories.

To quickly test your needs without a study of the manual:

     pdftk  file1.pdf file2.pdf cat output filenew.pdf

My personal usage of the tool is

  • prepareing multiple blocks of information fragments that are individually kept up to date, resulting in multiple PDFs. As necessary I combine the required information fragments just at the time of distribution to the current one-file-PDF version.
  • I also eliminate / extract / exchange individual pages of larger PDF-documents. For example why keeping a large multi language manual when you only require your own language?
Hopefully it helped.


Thank you a lot for your answer dPix :)

I will definetely check pdftk out. It may be very convenient for long works.

However, I still wish the master pages would be possible (that would automate page numeration, which can get tricky under human responsability, and also the creation of a TOC).

Wouldn't be possible to create a patreon/crowfunding in order to hire some developers working on important features? There could be a list of wished features and people can donate for each one. Once one specific feature has reached the necessary fund, work can be done on a branch, and developments are at the disposal of the Scribus team to integrate in the official Scribus. It is just an idea...