[Scribus] Scribus in the Art Lab

Asif Lodhi asif.lodhi
Wed Apr 5 00:52:51 CEST 2006

Hi Nate,

On 4/3/06, pixelnate <pixelnate at gmail.com> wrote:
> X  .........................................................., I hate monopolies. If
> I had the cash I would pull a Shuttlesworth and bankroll the whole
> Scribus project.

Mark "Shuttleworth" has been doing "exactly" the same already with
Ubuntu, CD kiosk and lots of other stuff! :) 

As to whether opensource software is better suited for
teaching/learning, I totally agree with Louis and I would like to tell
you my own experience in this regard.

I was designing an enterprise app and I felt a very strong need for an
opensource UML designer.  I found ArgoUML & its cousin Poseidon for
UML and Umbrello- all free versions good but lacking in some areas - I
liked the simplicity of the opensource tools.  Rational-2000 was
toooooooooo expensive for my company.  So I decided to develop one of
my own.  But then I had to revise my 2D graphics which led me to think
"why not develop a 2D drawing app as well on the side?" using the same
expertise and which in turn led me to think about the "feature set" of
a graphic paint/re-touching app and which in turn led me to learn &
use Gimp with a perspective of teaching my younger brother the "Gimp"
and 2D graphics app retouching as well to get him a good job (yes -
the Gimp for job!).

I studied the book at Gimp Savvy.com "Grokking the Gimp"  word to word
and page to page.  The book's treatment of color models and techniques
such as masking is simply "excellent" and it really "taught" me the
way masking, channels and color models work, for example.  I picked up
Photoshop-CS8 later on and was surprised to see that the menu option
for masking was a bit awkwardly named and it was a point-and-click
sort of a thing - had I picked up Photoshop earlier, instead of the
Gimp, I would never have learnt about techniques like masking,
channels usage and color models.  I didn't use the PS-CS8's
point-and-click masking option and instead used my own the Gimp's
masking knowledge to do masking and it worked superb.  The point is: 
the Gimp really taught me how masking works - Photoshop didn't and
doesn't - it just offers a point-and-shoot option - which doesn't
teach you anything and you don't get to "learn" anything about
masking, channels, color models, etc. - you just get your work done -
through mouse-clicks, plugins, point-n-click filters, etc.!  Plain and
simple!  Further, on the Gimp's mailing list, if you try to be member
on that list, that is - people go out of the way to help you out in
your work graphics work - most of the time, also telling you extremely
good techniques to do this and that super-duper thing.  The
combination of the Gimp's option is pretty impressive.  Further, the
Gimp-Savvy's book also taught me about the layer modes in addition to
color models which led me to work better in Photoshop-CS8.  But I have
noticed that many of my friends are just point-and-shoot Photoshop
graphics artists and use LOTS of photoshop plug-ins to accomplish this
and that - they don't know the way (the fundamentals) things work in
retouching apps.  So, in my case at least, the Gimp REALLY helped me
learn photo-retouching.  And I am extremely thankful to the Gimp's
mailing list and the really helpful people on that list.

Same goes with Scribus:  I absolutely didn't know a thing about DTP
before!  I got to learn about scribus AND DTP on Scribus mailing list.
 The questions that different people asked on this list led me to
google on those specific terms and ask questions in return and learn
in the process.  Many kind people on this list are very quick to help
you out and even if you forget something they are very quick to point
you in the right direction! :)  So, I, for one, am learning DTP from
this mailing list - Scribus mailing list - pure and simple!  I am
absolutely not going to spend lots of money just to learn DTP!  no
way!  Further, what led me to like Scribus, and the DTP in general,
was the precision with which you can control things like layout and
things like layers - I was pleasantly surprised to see a word
processing app (that's what came to my mind initially) with layers! 
and I was instantly attracted to its precision functionality - the way
you can specify coordinates/sizes of different text-boxes - in great
detail.  I could never do that with MS Word. So I learned a lot about
DTP and Photo Retouching and graphics from open source software. 
Further, there ARE some aspects that open source apps do better:   for
example, earlier on the Gimp's mailing list, I did point out that the
Gimp handled Shrink/Grow circular selection better than Photoshop-CS8
- which, instead, created slightly pointed corners in the circle -
which looked ugly!  Scribus mailing list is a continuous FREE
university on DTP! in addition to Scribus.  The website has lots of
additional useful links to learn and point you in the right direction.

The real thing is that good people are doing all this in their free
time and they can do better if they are sponsored by some kind folks. 
For example, if the Gimp doesn't have a color management right now,
can the general user-community sponsor the Gimp just for that? the
color management?  That way, it'll be done faster and probably better!
 I think you guys should have a donation link on your website for
features that are hot in demand and for which people are willing to
donate a bit of money.

Moreover, I believe that Churchill's saying that he likes to "learn"
and not to be _taught_ magnifies the importance of the way open source
software world works - you get to "learn" and "explore" things - you
are not bombarded by someone about a particular proprietary app.  Yes,
proprietary apps do many things that are not available in some
opensource apps presently but that doesn't mean everything will stay
the same - things are certainly going to improve - as all the
opensource apps have constantly been improving.

Further, I have noticed, that instead of trying to single out an
opensource app and critisizing it for lack of certain features - one
is better off if s/he tries to learn about "other" related opensource
apps that fill the missing gaps.  Of course, that's more work but then
you don't pay a lot of money to get your job done!  Once you get used
to it, it becomes easier.

Talking about learning from opensource software, I would like to cite
a much more suited/fitted example:  learning about operating systems
is easier when you study Linux! or other opensource OSes.  You can't
learn much about closed-source operating systems.  There are simply
tooooooooooooooooo many examples in this area!

IMHO, the reason opensource world is lagging behind in some areas is
that there is some lack of coordination and organization - and vision
and strategy.  Someone (you?) talked about Adobe's aquisition of
Macromedia earlier on this thread - I would like to say it's all about
competitive strategies and you see things in their true light if you
examine the competitive landscape well.  Adobe also announced their
plans to port their products to Linux!  Moreover, it's curiously
interesting to note that although Sun says that you write your Java
code once and it runs anywhere after that, the fact of the matter is
that Java practically runs only on three/four platforms - Windows,
Linux, Mac OS-X and Solaris - Sun simply doesn't have the resources
(seemingly) to develop/port their virtual machine software to other
platforms/OSes.  NOW, on the desktop-side, macromedia Flash delivers a
much better GUI faster than Java's swing and that too runs on Linux,
Windows and Mac.  Macromedia enhanced its FlashScript in Flash-MX2004
a _lot_ - it looked like C# or Java.  Plus they introduced facilities
related to server-side web services connectivity - showing a clear
inclination of Macromedia to embark on server-side development.  Java
on server side is not "very" good either. Developers can squeeze far
more speed out of web-applications than Java using PHP/MySQL, for
example, which operate natively on Linux!  Further more, good portable
C++ apps are fully portable to a great many more platforms than Java! 
A good example is BOOST & ACE libraries.  With Java, you simply can't
port to so many platforms/OSes! :)  Probably because of these very
reasons, Sun has become the largest corporate customer/partner of
Microsoft and both of these companies keep talking about
"inter-operable" product features - developers, be aware! :)  So, with
Adobe's aquisition of Macromedia, it's likely that Adobe will
penetrate further in the same direction - server-side development. 
These may be the reasons Microsoft has been trying to shift/distract
Adobe's focus by hyping its new plans of developing better/good
DTP/layout apps (check from google!).  Don't you think Adobe has
countered by launching the PDF-SDK?  It'll result in a lot of real
good development - using the independent developers' resources! 
effectively countering Microsoft's DTP efforts in the short-term, at
least. So, it's all about fights and wars and competition!  The giants
are also gearing up for utility computing - many services are now
available from a sinlge source on the web.  Google is doing the same -
they have a very good business model.  Sun has already started $1/hour
utility computing (which is probably free for the first few months!). 
Microsoft is doing the same with their Office/Windows Live initiative.
 So where that leaves the opensource developers?  What you guys are
gonna do in those areas/apps - which are gonna be utilities in the
near future, that is?  I observe, that GCC developers are trying very
hard to improve GCC compiler with an objective to make it so fast and
optimizing that the whole Linux and all its apps become MUCH faster
after just simple re-compiling!  I very strongly feel a great need for
organization in the opensource world.  I like opensource intiative
'cos I was and I still am forced (by corporations & market forces) to
work on proprietary development platforms using proprietary
"artificial" languages instead of elegant and simple C/C++ - whereas
I've been yearning/longing to develop OS stuff - but didn't get time
to do anything like that - ever! Except very initially! back in the
good old days! .  Anyway, I have just got a great opportunity with a
company to convert all of their systems to opensource! :)  and I will
do it! :)  To top it all, they also have a lot of print jobs as well
so I am certainly going to introduce these folks to Linux, Gimp,
Scribus, Inkscape, Sodipodi, etc. in any case! :)  Though, I'm
presently involved in enterprise systems analysis but I'll certainly
make my best efforts to introduce Linux here!  So, please expect lots
of questions from yours truly in future ;)  I plan to introduce Linux
to folks who are very talkative and, I know, will boast about their
expertise in this and that Linux app ;)  They will teach others!

I think I should stop here ... too much! :)

Lastly, NATE, I would try to work on your job on Sundays "in my free
time" if you could send it and describe it to me - I am willing to do
it - just for the fun of it.  No promises but I'll certainly give it a
try.  But, don't expect much either.  I'll just try to prove the
worthiness of opensource IF I get some free time on Sundays - that's

Finally, I don't hate closed-source propreitary software - it's just
that they create market monopolies and don't give you enough choice
and force you to build your career on their particular product lines. 
They keep changing versions of their "artificial" languages, for
example, drastically radically and force developers to learn their new
so-called great products.  So, I think, open source software is giving
them a good competition.  So my heart goes to open source developers
and open source movement.  This non-conformance to the status-quo of
proprietary software's dominance is highly necessary.  Keep it up!

Best regards,


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