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

Christoph Schäfer christoph-schaefer
Tue Jun 21 15:51:31 CEST 2005

>>> It has been mentioned before that multiple editing of DTP files is not a 
>>> good idea.
> I don't agree. With suitable style guides and a suitable team, it'd be
> an important thing to be able to do. I do agree that if done without
> discipline it can end up a mess, though.
> If nothing else, it'd be EXTREMELY useful to be able to have different
> people working on different parts (sections, liftouts, chapters,
> whatever) of a document. Whether this was done through a Word/OO.o style
> "master document" system or through true multiple editing isn't too
> important.
> http://bugs.scribus.net/view.php?id=1925
> http://bugs.scribus.net/view.php?id=2107
>>> With respect to text content, it is always necessary to educate those 
>>> who create texts.
> I couldn't agree enough.
>>> 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 don't know ... /text/ formatting (emphasis, etc) probably isn't
> nonsense. It's when they start doing "document-level" formatting and
> layout or they go overboard that it gets silly.
>>>  I think it is important to tell the 
>>> "Office professionals" how to switch off hyphenation and save to plain 
>>> text. 
> Ideally, perhaps ... but often the layout dep't is already overworked
> and hand-formatting the editorial text is the last thing they need :S .
>>> 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.
> Personally, I'm inclined to favour the Adobe InDesign model, where the
> editors / writers use a special tool that understands the DTP program's
> text, and talks to a content management system. The tool can be
> customised to do things like auto-hyphenate or not, permit or not permit
> text formatting, etc as appropriate, depending on how you want to divide
> up the workload.
> This model lets you use a content management system or similar, with
> versioning and history, without the pain of going back to primitive
> plain text.

I agree with you to a degree where you are talking about _inhouse_ 
production. There you can get the right people do the job, and InCopy's 
functionality could probably be achieved by using a web interface.

My idea of using plain text files has its origins in experiences with 
many different authors working in different places and with different 
skills. I return to my example of the fictious Cezanne catalogue. In an 
ideal world, all of the contributors would have OOo installed, 
hyphenation switched off and only apply styles defined in a fictious 
style guide.

In the real world, none or few of them have OOo installed, they do text 
formatting they way they are used to, hyphenation is switched on, 
because the text looks better on _their_ screen and so on. Expect most 
of them to be non tech savvy to a degree that they even won't let you 
remove a virus or trojan from their computer, out of fear, something 
would break. (This _is_ real world experience. Last year I had to 
compile a catalogue for a museum with contributions from 50+ authors, 
and to finally get the texts into a single layout after receiving 
everything you can imagine -- *.doc, *.wpd, *.rtf, *.tex and some others 
-- caused a lot of headaches!)

Once character styles are available in scribus, it would be possible to 
send the authors a style guide, with rules like: Don't format your text 
or your document, NEVER! DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!!! Instead, use tags 
like <h></h> for the headline of your article. If you want to emphasise 
something, tell us that you want it to be emphasised by using <em></em> 
and so on. WE are responsible for the layout, and WE know how emphasised 
text will finally look like, you don't. YOU are ONLY responsible for the 
content. [kind of enforced LaTeX approach]

And then finally save your file as *.txt (NOT *.txt for DOS!). Once 
you're finished, you can commit your article to the database [add 
instruction how to commit to the database]. Commits in formats other 
than *.txt will be rejected. (Sometimes it's necessary to use such a 
draconian language, because -- in my experience -- if you ask for plain 
text, chances are good you will receive *.docs, as many people think 
*.doc is plain text.)

Plain text is the smallest common denominator, and with a working text 
importer for paragraph _and_ character styles, its use still makes sense 
if you need to handle input from many sources with different degrees of 
experience and different software installations.


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