[Scribus] Ideas on collaboration [was: How do you guys share scribu files for collaboration?]

Christoph Schäfer christoph-schaefer
Tue Jun 21 04:33:44 CEST 2005

Hi all,

There have been numerous interesting suggestions on the point of 
collaboration in the previous thread.

However, I'd like to present some thoughts about reasonable use of 
collaboration technology, based on my own experience and thoughtful 
input from others (especially Louis Desjardins).

It has been mentioned before that multiple editing of DTP files is not a 
good idea. People are used to this kind of work from their office 
suites, and even in this field, results are often bad (think about 10 
people working on the same document -- quite colourful, but also quite 
confusing). One of the main advantages of DTP and typesetting is the 
separation of layout and content. Consequently, considerations about 
collaboration will have to follow this separation.

With respect to text content, it is always necessary to educate those 
who create texts. If you look carefully, you will find that in many 
publications, created with Quark or InDesign, hyphenation marks appear 
in the text where they shouldn't, because both programmes offer an 
import filter for Word files. The average $office_suite user is used to 
format his/her text while writing it (which is nonsense, but 
nevertheless current practice). I think it is important to tell the 
"Office professionals" how to switch off hyphenation and save to plain 
text. Plain text files are easy to handle for cvs-like programmes and 
databases. An ideal (text) workflow would consist of text workers 
writing their texts in a fashion they are used to and after approval of 
all participants commiting their collaborative work to a database in 
plain text.

On the DTP side, it would be extremely useful if scribus could provide a 
database interface for text frames. If a text frame could be linked to a 
database entry, many restraints on productivity would be removed in a 
single step, especially if the whole process could be done via scripting.

With pictures, the situation is similar, though not exactly the same. 
Imagine a newspaper with predefined fields for ads: Instead of manually 
inserting the ad in scribus, a special database field entry would 
receive the ad for the current issue from a database.

I also think of another aspect, which is linking of different files. 
This would improve the creation of large documents a lot. I am thinking 
about something like the master documents in OOo. Imagine you have to 
edit a 500 page catalogue for a Paul Cezanne exhibition. This would mean 
tons of high resolution bitmaps and large amounts of text by scientists. 
No current PC/Mac will be able to handle these GBs of data. So you will 
split your document into different files. If the database functionality 
was implemented as described above, you could just link text and image 
frame content to database fields, but how do you handle page numbering 
and TOC? Of course you can do all this manually, but a feature like 
"cross-document-linking" or OOo's "master document" would be extremely 
useful for collaboration.

As Craig noticed, it would need someone to implement it, but I think the 
database approach is a means to KISS ("keep it simple, stupid"), as long 
as scribus will provide the interface. It will be much more difficult to 
educate the $office_suite users. As Louis has mentioned many times 
before, DTP is, to a large extent, a social process, so the coders 
aren't necessarily responsible for failures.

Cross document linking and master documents might be something for the 
future, but I think these are aspects worth to be kept alive in further 

Oooops, has become a long post. Sorry.


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