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Scribus desktop publishing: The Right Tool for the Job?

Scribus Splash Screen

By Jack Wallen

The open source Scribus application does almost everything the costlier alternatives do, but at zero cost. It's reliable, flexible, and very user friendly.

Read a concise summary of Scribus' strengths and weaknesses.

Let's take a look to see just how simple creating a pdf document can be with Scribus. This is what you see as Scribus starts up. Start up time will vary depending upon how many fonts you have installed on your system.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

20 comments
whoward
whoward

Can you do most, or all of the things you can with Adobe Desktop Publishing? Wayne's World

debgrant
debgrant

Sounds great! Just downloaded both Ghost software & Scribus -- Attemped to install on a XP system (first reading installation instructions)... to no avail. I'd love to comment on Scribus but first the install should be easier to perform.

NWeber
NWeber

I notice that this covers the Linux version of Scribus, but it should be noted that there is a Windows port of the software. Installation requires a prerequisite in the form of installing GhostScript, but all that is explained at the Scribus Web site.

majidbuell
majidbuell

Just used it to create a cover page for my reports with a nice layered image and typeset titles etc. I find that the .pdf import stuff needs work though. Still haven't figured out what the basic imported.pdf file should be set to.

billballew
billballew

Useless tool except for UNIX gurus who hate MS and don't mine expending endless efforts to avoid really fast, efficient and production business programs. However, having said that, if you don't have a real business need for a professional program, and use it bi-yearly it is probably the most efficient and cost effective solution.

Larry the Security Guy
Larry the Security Guy

I'm probably missing the point of Scribus because the photos aren't flattering in the least. They seem to demonstrate a lot of work just to create a PDF with a shaded text box. OpenOffice seems a better fit for most PDF-related needs, and it comes with all the features of a proper office suite.

lodestone
lodestone

Couple suggestions: 1) try a portable install. Portableapps.com has one that I use. Install is slick. OR 2) be sure that you have installed Ghost Script FIRST. Otherwise, Scribus on WinXP has issues. --Allen

helenxu
helenxu

If you need to edit a pdf , for picture use photoshop, for text and picture use indesign. pdf itself is not for editing, is for printing and others. hope it helps you

Joules Ampere
Joules Ampere

It is almost useless for me, if you go anywhere near 50 pages with this thing it starts freaking out, it is very inefficient, only useful with probably 10 pages I am afraid if one wants to do decent page layout they will have to fork out the money for InDesign or Quark, for none windows and Mac users Wine or a vm with one of these applications is the only saviour.

fphilibert
fphilibert

I have started a small activity as an editor with two other people: after having used software like PhotoS**p, XPr**s, etc. for many years, we now almost exclusively use Open Source tools in order to produce and publish professional books. Scribus is the main program we use to create the covers (with The Gimp, I must add) whereas book contents are formatted with LaTeX when there aren't a lot of graphics (mostly because it is the quicker and most efficient way to satisfy our typographic needs). The result is a complete and very efficient platform for publishing that is: 1) completely customized to suit our needs ; 2) very stable: it allows us to produce a book of high quality in a very short time. If the learning curve seemed a bit longer at the beginning, after some efforts we now have what I rightfully consider as a suite of "fast, efficient and production business programs". Personally, I could summarize the whole experience as: "spend a bit more time thinking and working hard at the beginning of a project and your life will be easier." I must concede that not doing this way seems to be regretfully usual in some businesses, specially in some big companies (as far as I know). Finally, if I quote you: "don't mine expending endless efforts to avoid really fast, efficient and production business programs[...]" seems to me more adequate to point out usual problems that MS users encounter every day around me, than users of this "useless" tool that is Scribus.

lodestone
lodestone

Larry, You did miss the point but then I think the point Jack Wallen was trying to make is not easily made in a string of a dozen plus screen shots. Scribus is not trying to be another office word processor that happens to do PDF exports but an open source alternative to commercial page layout programs like PageMaker, InDesign, Quark, etc. (PDF is becoming a standard file format for commercial printing.) Nonetheless, your point is well taken. I too would much prefer OpenOffice.org for 90% of my daily PDF creation tasks. However, as a user of PageMaker from way back who doesn't want to dish out the several hundred bucks for its successor, InDesign, to do a book project every couple years, Jack Wallen's screenshot tutorial actually makes Scribus tempting to look at. (Do write more, Jack but please offer a .pdf alternative to the screenshots!) Scribus purports to offer color management capabilities that rival the mainstream payware products and apparently can handle book-length manuscripts. It even has a built-in pre-flight engine for prepping manuscripts for commercial press production. (How good the Scribus pre-flight is, I can't say at this point.) Those uses are a whole other playing field than OpenOffice.org. All that said, my initial look at Scribus left me less than impressed. I had great difficulty figuring out how to get even a basic master page laid out. The documentation that I found for it was not only inadequate, it was often just plain inaccurate! However, Jack Wallen's tutorial renewed my curiousity in Scribus: maybe it does have the capabilities to work up to its promise; they were just hidden by a dearth of documentation! --Allen

RonElstun
RonElstun

In your opinion would this be a good product to use to create documents to train users? I put together documents with a lot of screen captures and CAD drawings. Right now I am using MS Office applications, but would really like to explore the world of OpenOffice and it appears Scribus. Thank you for any input you can supply.

kpthottam
kpthottam

We are sick of MS windows software ... can you list all the products you are using that eliminate windows to support your publishing company?

kpthottam
kpthottam

Sounds like there is a lack of books out there on scribus, may be Jack should write a book on it...

kpthottam
kpthottam

Let us be clear in the two different segments - Segment one - to create documents. Segment two - to create material that can be consumed by the 'printing press' For segment 1 -- MS office , star office , open office For segment 2-- quark , and scribus

lodestone
lodestone

Since you're in publishing, fphilibert, perhaps you can write (and, if this thread is any indication, make some $$ on) a book on how to do open source publishing. It sounds as if the folks on this thread really are hungry for nuts & bolts info on using Scribus and other open source software together for production. --Allen

lodestone
lodestone

Great resource. Thanks. --Allen