[Scribus] pdfs web page design

Craig Ringer craig
Mon Dec 6 22:31:40 CET 2004

On Tue, 2004-12-07 at 05:21, will at phototropia.org wrote:
> Friends:
>     There have been many questions on the list about web pages from
> scribus, but I am still vague on a few things.
>     Scribus says in its documentation that it is common in dtp to design
> once and then use the result for both printed and web page material. 

It may be common, but IMHO it's usually a bad idea if you have any
alternatives. PDF on the web just isn't very flexible or very nice -
mostly due to the clumsy way the Acrobat browser plug-in works, the
difficulty of progressively displaying content in a way most useful to
the reader, and the unfortunate fact that computer monitors are small
and low-resolution compared to print.

That's not to say you shouldn't re-use content designed for print on the
web, only that you need to understand that's what you're doing. Print
content doesn't magically become suitable for the web by being uploaded
to a website - ads are still usually too large, the layout will often
require the user to scroll horizontally, there are generally file size
issues, the user may have to zoom in to make the text readable, etc.
It's handy (sometimes extremely handy), but IMHO no substitute for
proper web content.

> Apologies for the long email, but this is a compilation of many questions
> that have come up out of context.  I have spent the last few days trying
> to figure out what one could do.  My question is how dtp professionals
> working with pdfs create their web pages?

Well, I can't speak for the profession as a group, but at work we do it
the hard way - copy content out of the pages into web page templates.
While the eventual plan is to partially automate the content extraction
(once we're free of Quark 4), I have no intention of attempting to
convert 'final' print layouts for use on the web - it just doesn't make

We also offer a download of the front page of the paper (JPEG or PDF)
and the entire paper as a PDF. This suppliments the limited selection of
stories out of the paper that we provide in the web site proper.

Maybe one day when PDF integrates neatly into browsers (no more
different toolkits, crashing plugins, extra toolbars, sluggish display,
and non-functional browser print and save buttons) and everyboy has fast
'net connections, it might be more practical to use pure PDF online.

Even then, you still have the fundamental issue that what's comfortable
to read in print just isn't on screen - you need larger text, and often
have _less_ screen area (compared to your print area) to put the larger
text in, not more. I'm sure we've all seen more than our fair share of
web designers who think they're working in print, so they use tiny fonts
and very inflexible layouts that no doubt look pretty printed out, but
are a nightmare to actually _read_ as a web page.

When it comes to repurposing print content, I'm interested in automatic
content extraction from layouts myself. I'd like to automatically
extract the text and graphics for a story from a Scribus document and
generate a web page template (or insert into a web-CMS). I think that's
a much more sensible and reader-friendly way to go than trying to re-use
whole layouts.

Of course, like always all this is just my opinion (my rather tired
opinion, at that).

Craig Ringer

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