[Scribus] Bonus-work...

Steve Herrick steveh
Fri May 2 20:37:05 CEST 2003

Quoting PFJ <paulf.johnson at ukonline.co.uk>:

> If someone wants a feature, they only need to ask, 

That's good, because I have a few thoughts. See below.

> To me,
> this is the biggest problem with free software as opposed to paid for
> software, the time lag.

Funny, I was just thinking how fast Scribus is improving. InDesign takes years
for a new version. Here we are with a new version almost daily. :)

> That said, the beauty of GPL is that it encourages people to get
> involved with a project and to implement additional bits - it also
> brings in other skill sets. 

True - I can't code a single line (it's all I can do to compile), but I know
interface, and I've contributed to that.

OK, on to what I think needs to improved.

I tried to use Scribus (0.9.9 on RH8.0) to lay out my newsletter, which happens
to be my day job. After several days of work, I decided it just wasn't going to
work, and I reverted to InDesign. Along the way, I kept a long list of things
Scribus didn't do as I expected, or at all. Once these are taken care of, it
will be a much stronger competitor to the commercial products.

1. Drop caps. As far as I can tell, Scribus doesn't have them, so I spent an
hour trying to work with a single letter. I never did get it right, because I
couldn't make the text frame small enough to not crowd out an extra line without
making the letter disappear. As  a result, I would also like...

2. Negative text wrap values. Currently, they stop at zero, but it would be cool
if frames could overlap slightly.

3. Anti-aliasing above (and below) 100%. I understand this is not necessarily a
Scribus issue. Also, grab boxes should always be the same size, regardless of

4. Added stability. Scribus crashed on me four times in Gnome and once in KDE in
the same day. As a result, I REALLY like the auto-save feature. BTW, the
measurement palette has has no frame in Gnome - it's just immobile buttons
floating in space.

5. The numeric inputs with up and down buttons (I forget the real name just now)
are generally too big - the numbers, not the space. For example, when I work
with the kerning, I tend to use values around 0.1 and 0.2, but clicking the
button takes me to 1.0, 2.0, etc. Jumping by integers is fine for linespacing,
but not kerning. (Also, note that when using inches, the frame width and height
measurements will not register values below 1.0.)

6. Speaking of which, the behavior of linespacing and kerning seems
inconsistent. If you change the font size while using the frame tool,
linespacing will increase proportionately, but not if you're using the text edit
tool. As far as I can tell, kerning doesn't change dynamically with either - you
have to reset it yourself. But when you click somewhere else and then back in
your text, the kerning has reset itself to be proportional. Finally, would it be
possible to have kerning be by percentage, not an absolute value? This is
probably not how it's done in the biz, but I struggle to kern by points
(especially when my default unit is inches) with fonts of varying sizes. 

7. Font issues. OK, get this - I was working away in Scribus, even though my
fonts look terrible, because I knew they looked OK in a PDF. But after about an
hour, I discovered that clicking outside the text frame made the fonts look OK!
Same with clicking the frame tool. As soon as I click in the frame to edit the
text, they go back to being nearly illegible, but at least I can proofread after
I type blind. And I *still* can't see Vera, though other apps have found it.

Anyway, the biggest reason I couldn't use Scribus for my newsletter is that
Times (Postscript) and Times New Roman (TrueType) do not reproduce accurately in
a PDF at large sizes (around 60 points). There were other issues, such as
kerning being much more pronounced between words than within, but that was the

8. Are columns objects? I can click on them, and even bring them to the front.
In my opinion, columns should be nothing more than guides. Or, it could be as
InDesign has it, where columns are not a function of the page at all, but of the
text frame. This would save a lot of trouble with...

9. Linking frames. This gave me no end of trouble. I discovered that I couldn't
link frames if they both already contained text. Many times, even when I did
link frames, Scribus decided to unlink them after a while. It would be helpful
if there was a "show frame links" option like InDesign has. Having looked at the
underlying XML of a Scribus document, I can see this is probably a tricky issue,
but I have all kinds of confidence in you all. :)

10. Perhaps the frame-draw tool could be dropped entirely. InDesign uses the
text-edit tool to draw text frames, and a special "place-mode" tool to draw
graphics frames.

11. I would like to have a large workspace outside the pages, as well as the
ability to drag objects from one page to another. I know there are XML reasons
that at least the latter isn't happening now, but these would make my life a lot

12. I would really like to be able to double-click to select a word and
triple-click to select a paragraph.

13. I need widow and orphan control.

This is a lot, and I'm sure not all of it will be reproduceable on other
machines. But Scribus is at a point where it's too good not to be even better. 


I'm reluctant to use fancy polysyllables like "philosophy" 
to refer to what seems ordinary common sense.
- Noam Chomsky

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