[Scribus] Scribus as a replacement for FrameMaker?

Craig Ringer craig
Fri Sep 24 04:44:13 CEST 2004

On Fri, 2004-09-24 at 03:27, Adam Stein wrote:
> I've been looking for an open source FrameMaker replacement (as my group is 
> switching from Solaris to Linux, FrameMaker isn't available for Linux, and 
> FrameMaker is the only commercial program I still use, now seemed like a good 
> time to finally replace it with open source).

Hmm. I know someone who uses FrameMaker - on an ancient Solaris box kept
for just that purpose. She won't give it up - and I don't blame her. Not
even InDesign comes close for what she uses it for - technical writing.

She's a major participant in the OpenOffice project, but still uses
FrameMaker for tech writing.

I've done some testing with Scribus 1.2 that makes me doubt if it's
going to work well for what you want - there are currently performance
problems with large bodies of linked text frames:


as well as the feature limitations you outlined below.

> The three choices I see are OpenOffice, Kword, and Scribus.  I went thru the 
> tutuorial to see how Scribus works.  It has a few things missing that I would 
> need to be able to switch.  My note is to see if anybody knows the direction 
> Scribus is taking so that I can see if this is a dead end or if I should keep my 
> eye on development.

FrameMaker is really oriented toward large document and book work. I
don't know if there is much on the 1.3 roadmap when it comes to large
document support - I don't think there is, but Craig Bradney or Peter
Linell could say for sure.

Some of the planned canvas improvements will hopefully help, though -
possibly a lot.

> 1) Automatic text flow
> Going thru the tutorial, you manually set up the flow from one text region to 
> another.  I have manuals over 100 pages, don't think I want to manually set up 
> links.  In FrameMaker, when text reaches the end of a text region, another one 
> is created automatically on the next page.  There are ways to manually link text 
> regions, but the default is to just keep going onto the next page.  This brings 
> me to item #2

> 2) It seems that text regions created in the template are not usuable in the 
> regular mode which means that not only do you have to manually link text 
> regions, you also have to manually created them on each page as well.  Also not 
> good when you have 100+ pages.


Please add any comments that may be appropriate. You can also monitor a
bug in the bug tracker so you get emailed when the status changes,
something I find very handy.

By the way, I have a fairly long list of "cool stuff FrameMaker does" to
sort through and filter the important ones into feature requests, but
it's pretty low on my TODO list.

> 3) Book mode.  I did see a book item in the roadmap for v1.3.  I don't remember 
> it giving specifics but I would need to generate table of contents, indices, 
> list of figures, i.e. generate a list of a given type of marker.

There are people actively looking at ToC an index support. Hopefully
that'll be possible via a C++ plugin or Python script. I don't know if
there has been any concrete progress yet, as there are some issues with
the file format and with tracking and editing the required information.

> Those three seem to be the biggies that I can think of.  Scribus does most 
> everything else that I use (like importing images).  I'm sure I can figure out a 
> way to do little things if the big stuff is there like importing C code examples 
> (via Python scripts or something).

I'll admit to being surprised that you didn't mention conditional text.
I know that's been a major reason for other FrameMaker users not to
switch to something else. You know, "only insert this text if
$pro_version is true", that sort of thing.

Craig Ringer

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