[Scribus] Scribus Friendly Print Shops

Craig Ringer craig
Wed Jul 28 16:24:00 CEST 2004

On Wed, 2004-07-28 at 21:35, Louis Desjardins wrote:
> This said, the main problem we face everyday is "assumption"... Lots 
> of people "assume" that prepress houses w i l l accept anything on 
> the fly...

Oooh, yeah. "I did my [complicated full-page ad with weird fonts and
graphics] in Word - everybody has Word..."

*grinds teeth*

It's almost as bad as being told by a customer that "... Publisher is
the industry standard, that's what EVERYBODY uses!"

> But in general, people just throw their files in and let you deal 
> with them. I must say we became pretty good at that over the years, 
> will the "help" of lots of costly software and with lots of time.

We just bought PitStop and Acrobat 6 - so I share your pain on the
costly software side. Why did we, a newspaper that uses another company
to do the actual printing, need PitStop? Answer: so many clients can't
follow simple instructions (or more often choose to ignore them) that we
have to check each submitted PDF advertisment for correct shape, minimum
graphics resolution, embedded fonts, etc ourselves. That it was the
client's bad file won't stop the client complaining bitterly if they
don't like how it looks.

> Not all PDFs are created equal and this is a reality we face 
> everyday. Not all RIPs can deal with all kind of PDFs and this is one 
> reason why the graphic art industry has proposed a common denominator 
> such as PDF/X-1 and its subsequent flavours (google for more on 
> that). But the existence of a standard doesn't mean everyone is using 
> it...

Especially when software upgrades cost more than the hardware you use
the software on, and sometimes more than you pay the user of the
software to operate it for a year. We're still on QuarkXPress 4 here,
and upgrading is out of the question. Thankfully, PDF has come to the
rescue, so we don't need to worry about document compatibility (the
reason we moved up from Quark 3 in the first place).

> A "Scribus Friendly Logo" would put Scribus in front and I like the 
> idea of having people talk more and more of Scribus. On the other 
> hand, I wonder if the real issue doesn't rely more into the PDFs 
> friendliness of Scribus than on "native files" with which there is a 
> strong possibility of messing up with fonts (one of the biggest issue 
> in prepress)?

There's also clients omitting graphics, failing to provide an image or
hardcopy proof, ignoring your specs, ignoring being told about problems
with their document, and submitting incorrect files five minutes before
deadline then going home.

</rant> ;-)

Sorry, we're in the middle of production now so I'm a bit worked up,
we've had even more client problems than usual.

> At same level of importance (even more important maybe?) is that 
> every document done with Scribus is an ambassador of the program. A 
> note or a small, one color logo, could bear any such document to 
> acknowledge this fact and let people know about Scribus.

Unfortunately, there is a flip side to that. Many companies will react
to new things and new names with a blanket "we don't support that." They
don't want to commit to being able to produce good output, and are
probably used to every client telling them the $MY_FAVOURITE_FORMAT is
"the industry standard" and "just works with everything." As such, I
wouldn't be too surprised if a fair few print shops hear "Scribus"
(new/unfamiliar) or "Linux" and go rather prickly. It's their loss, but
it can make things more difficult than it could be. As such, I'd focus
on PDF, PDF, PDF for now. 

It's a similar situation to buying common parts for Macintosh computers
from PC hardware dealers - you know what works, but it's wise never to
say the part is intended for use with a mac or sometimes they'll freak.
I've had reports of PC dealers _refusing_ to sell basic things like
memory because "we don't sell mac stuff." They just don't want to deal
with what they feel is the inevitable "it didn't work, please refund me"
return, a justifiable if frustrating attitude. Saying that "I've checked
and I KNOW this works" doesn't help, because they're so used to people
saying that and then coming back for a refund anyway.

I suspect the same issue may apply to printers. There was a huge amount
of resistance to PDF when it first started moving into press (at least
around here) because people at least KNEW how to deal with printing
QuarkXPress documents and knew all the quirks. Even though PDF is
astonishingly superior in most ways (with a glaring exception: "ability
to tweak/fix") it took a while to start becoming widespread. 

Print shops will also be used to the fact that contrary to common
reports, PDFs are very far from all the same - a lot can be done wrong
by the user and the program. A good example I heard recently was
regarding InDesign 2.0, which apparently often generates PDFs so complex
and convoluted they have been known to fill the (copious) RAM of our
printer's RIP.

I guess I'm just saying that people may be cautious of new and
unfamiliar tools and formats, and it's not unreasonable for them not to
immediately trust customer assurances that "it'll work great." (Would
you, after the 30th customer had told you that Microsoft Word is ideal
for desktop publishing?) As such, I'd initially focus on the familiar
("real DTP application," "PDF with properly embedded fonts," "I actually
used CMYK images!" etc) rather than the new and unfamilar (Scribus on
Linux). At least until I had my proofs and an agreement with the

I do think a "scribus-friendly" printer registry would be interesting.
It'd provide a significant incentive, especially as user numbers grow,
and might provide the ability to apply a bit of pressure to difficult
printers too. I would, however, suggest that it draw a distinction
between "prints PDFs without fuss" and "knows and supports Scribus."
Both are cool, and I think it'd be nice to have an idea of who you can
go to to just print a brochure vs who you can go to with something
interesting that might be a challenge.

Time permitting, I'm hoping to nudge our printers here gently into the
realm of "Scribus aware" if not Scribus friendly. We're one of their
biggest customers and we produce some of the best quality, most
fuss-free jobs for them, so I expect they'll be somewhat interested.
They're not the sort of people you'll be nipping down to at lunch time
to get a 1000-long run of leaflets printed, though...

Peter: I still haven't managed to get around to doing any of our paper's
content in Scribus, sorry. It's on the (very long) To-Do list. I'll make
sure I provide a PDF of the final page online when I do get it done :-)

Correction and comments on what I've written here would be much
appreciated. It's all just my opinion, and I'm an IT guy not a print pro
in the end. I hope I've provided a different viewpoint if nothing else.

Craig Ringer

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