[Scribus] Postscript import into Scribus?

Craig Ringer craig
Fri May 7 15:27:05 CEST 2004

On Fri, 2004-05-07 at 20:55, Peter Linnell wrote:

> Alas, one huge barrier is even the Postscript from MS applications is
> quite poor and notoriously difficult to import into other applications.

Interpreting and importing PostScript or PDF output is non-trivial at
the best of times, is it not? 

I find it worth noting, when considering this isssue, how hard Adobe
Acrobat has to work to make even relatively simple changes (text
alterations and moving objects around) possible in PDF files. For
example, Acrobat (at least v5) simply fails to cope with re-wrapping
text, so adding a single word can be extremely difficult. Adobe "wrote
the book" on PDF, so if anyone should be able to work with it, I'd
expect it to be them. Full import support for arbitrary PDFs could be
incredibly challenging, especially with subsetted fonts, downsampled
graphics, etc.

> MS Pub Files are undocumented and closed source. Ask any experienced
> pre-press person about MS Pub files.

*foam* *splutter*

> More than likely they will roll
> their eyes and will be ready to regale the inquirer with their own
> horror story..;) 

"But everybody uses Publisher..." -- Client with a new PC (their first)
that came with Publisher, who had a local small print house run out some
leaflets for them, so they expected us to print a spot-colour half-page
ad they'd done, without charging production.

> Transferring between DTP application is never easy owing to their
> complexity. Even importing PageMaker > InDesign can be tricky and Adobe
> has access to the code and file formats.

Adobe also spent *megabucks* and a lot of time on their Quark importer
for InDesign 2.0, but it's still quite easy to find files that it
doesn't import accurately.

It is a real issue, though - the newspaper I work for has years of
archived Quark documents, and we often re-use one a few months - and
sometimes years - old, when a customer wants to re-run an old ad with a
few changes. Changing DTP apps would make this "interesting". If a
document can be re-used unchanged, that's fine - just import the EPS or
PDF. A few small changes, though, would become re-setting the ad if we
ended up changing DTP apps. This is a non-trivial cost. Sometimes the
change could be made in Acrobat instead, but Acrobat makes simple tasks
fiddly and painful; it's also quite limited in terms of what it can do.

OTOH, I don't see how an importer can be created that can do a
trustworthy and reliable import of an undocumented binary format like
Quark's or Microsoft's. The OpenOffice folks have enough trouble with MS
Word, and it doesn't have to import sub-millimetre perfect positioning
and complex type adjustments. Importing an ad wrong and not realising is
even worse than having to re-do the ad, IMHO.

What might be useful, though, is something that could just import the
text content from Quark and InDesign documents, producing a set of
frames in a temporary scrapbook that could be positioned and styled
appropriately. The same thing for linked graphics wouldn't hurt either.
I don't know how difficult this would be in practise, nor do I know how
uppity Quark's lawyer-commandos might get.

Sadly, due to the way PDF text is structured, this might be really
difficult to get right with a PDF. Acrobat selects text across columns
for a reason :-(

I guess in the end, a user changing apps would just have to bite the
bullet, re-do their templates, and make the jump. In our case, we'd
simply keep on using Quark in parallel. If we had to, we'd maintain a PC
for each user in addition to their OS9 Mac running Quark. We'd slowly
phase Quark out as we needed it less until we just had one MacOS 9 box
running Quark 4, sitting in a corner growing dust. Mmmmnmm... what a
lovely thought :-)

Craig Ringer

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