With the release of
we thought we would take it for a test-drive and see whether Scribus was up
to the task of professional desktop publishing (DTP). This writer used
QuarkXPress fairly heavily a number of years ago and missed QuarkXPress
quite a bit after moving to Linux. It took a while, but Scribus has finally
matured into a suitable replacement.
The first thing any user will notice, of course, is the interface. Anyone
familiar with popular DTP programs like QuarkXPress should be able to pick
up Scribus in no time. Scribus also offers a few features that weren't
available natively in QuarkXPress years ago -- such as PDF and SVG export,
CYMK preview and the ability to edit lines as bezier curves, to name just a
One feature that is particularly nice for repetitive publishing tasks is
the ability to create paragraph styles to apply frequently used styles to a
block of text. With one click of a button, the user can set the typeface
(font), size, alignment, color and much more for a block of text.
The ability to easily create tables is also a welcome addition. Rather than
needing to group together multiple text boxes, a user can create a table in
two easy steps. It's also possible to easily ungroup a table, if it becomes
desirable to create separate objects out of the table's columns and/or
Scribus's "Story Editor" is also a handy tool that makes it much easier to
edit and format text inside Scribus. It also makes it easy to save a
document's text as a separate document. Combined with the paragraph styles
feature, it's very easy to mark up a document for publication from plain
text. The only tool that seemed awkward is Scribus' tool to to link text
frames so that text will "flow" from one text box to another, something
that's pretty easy to do in a program like QuarkXPress.
Only one thing comes to mind that may hinder adoption of Scribus, aside
from the lack of a huge advertising budget to compete with Adobe or Quark,
is that one cannot import from a QuarkXPress or InDesign file. There's good
reason for this, as documented in the Scribus FAQ,
but it may prove to be an issue for companies with a number of documents in
proprietary DTP formats.
However, Scribus does offer the ability to import SVG, Encapsulated
PostScript (EPS) and PostScript files. Scribus also allows the user to
export documents in SVG, EPS, PDF, or as one of several image
formats. Scribus' SVG import features are quite excellent, allowing users
to import an SVG file and use it whole or to ungroup the object and
manipulate the component parts of the object. Unfortunately, my system's
version of gs was not quite up-to-date, so importing EPS and PS files
failed. This is in no way a flaw on Scribus' part -- just the fact that it
requires a later version of gs than is installed on my desktop.
Scribus is capable of creating some fairly complex documents, but it's also
easy to use to create simple documents as well. It's suitable for creating
a family newsletter, or for creating a complex document for distribution as
a PDF or to be printed professionally. Users who lack a background in DTP
applications will find the beginner's
tutorial quite useful.
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