[Scribus] Open Source Software and Book Authors

wtb41 wtb
Fri Dec 15 14:25:50 CET 2006

I have written a book containing no graphics (no pictures or charts); it has
straight type, bulleted lists, numbered lists, and tables. I need the
ability to automate the building of a table of contents and an index. In
addition to the standard font for type, I need a font (expert set) providing
small caps, ligatures, and oldstyle figures. I need to be able to produce a
PDF with embedded fonts. I also need an option regarding subsetting of the
embedded fonts (some book manufacturers want subsetting; others don't). 

As far as I know, the open-source community offers 2 applications that might
be used to meet my needs. They are (1) Scribus and (2) OpenOffice.org's
Writer. Neither of these applications is feasible today. Here are the

1. Scribus cannot (a) automate the building of a table of contents and an
index or (b) import tables. The procedures that have been sketched to me for
getting tables (from another document) into a Scribus document are too
onerous to be considered seriously (my book has many tables). So scratch
Scribus off the list of feasible solutions.

2. OpenOffice.org's Writer. I have encountered 2 major problems that almost
surely are bugs within Writer. These problems are as follows:

     a. Writer's font menu. I bought 4 Windows Postscript fonts: (1) Adobe
Garamond Regular, (2) Adobe Garamond, Italic, (3) Adobe Garamond, Bold, and
(4) Adobe Garamond Regular Expert. I got all 4 of these fonts working in
Scribus simply by entering the path to the folder containing the font files
(really simple). I installed the fonts into Microsoft Word (using the free
ATM light), and all 4 fonts worked perfectly. The 4 fonts appeared on 3
lines in Word's font menu. One line serves the regular and italic styles,
with italic (true italic) produced with the I (I for Italic) botton. A
second font-menu line says, "AGaramond, Bold." It appears on a separate line
because the family of fonts contains a semibold (which the B button
produces). The third font-menu line says, "AGaramondExp." I have tried
valiently to install the fonts in Writer, and each attempt has failed. I
installed them first using the program called spadmin. When that did not
work, I used KDE's Font Installer. I installed the fonts in the order listed
above. Each of the first 3 fonts installed and worked fine until the expert
set was installed. After its installation, the font menu still had only one
line for the fonts, and now it produced only glyphs from the expert set. The
first 3 fonts became inaccessible. I got that same result using both
installers. It's clearly not a font problem (because they work perfectly in
Scribus and Microsoft Word). Logic suggests an application problem, the
application being Writer.

     b. Writer's PDF generator. I added small caps and oldstyle figures to
my book's first chapter. I then used Writer's Export as PDF menu option to
produce a PDF of the chapter. The PDF has multiple defects, all of which
concern small caps. Each defect appears at first sight as tho a letter did
not print (a missing-letter look). But upon close inspection, one sees that
the letter is there (in the PDF), but it's misplaced. Example: Three letters
should have appeared (in small caps) as IMO. Instead of that clean 3-letter
appearance, the O prints over the M (the M and the O are superimposed). The
PDF generator put the I; then it moved one space to the right, and put the
M. It should have moved one more space to the right and put the O, but it
didn't. It put the O in the same spot at the M (the M and the O are
superimposed on one another). This error occurs 17 times in 6 pages of text,
but not every instance of small caps has this error. Example: page 2 has (in
small caps) BTW, and each of the 3 letters is in its proper place. Then page
6 has SST in small caps. Those 3 letters also are in their proper places.
Sometimes the misplaced letter is at the end of a string (such as IMO);
other times it is in the interior of a string (as in GUIDE, where the I is
misplaced to give the missing-letter look, as in GU  DE, with the I printed
over the U and a blank space where the I should be.).

My work on Chapter 1 produced a series of 7 PDFs of that chapter. Each of
the 7 contained the aforementioned defects; so it was not a one-time fluke.
The aforementioned defects--all involving small caps--could be due to (1)
the font, (2) the PDF generator, or (3) the PDF viewer. The problem is not
the font because it displays and prints perfectly in the OpenOffice Writer
application. The problems first surfaced in the PDF. The problem is not the
PDF viewer because I viewed it with 2 viewers [the one within Linux (KPDF)
and Adobe Acrobat's Reader within Windows]. Both viewers showed these
defects. I then printed a hard copy of page 6 from the PDF, and page 6's
defects (those listed above) appeared on the hard copy. Ergo, the problem
apparently lies with Writer's PDF generator.

I also should mention that Writer offers no option regarding the subsetting
of fonts during the PDF-generating process. The PDF viewer (KPDF) that came
with my Mepis 6.0 distribution tells me that fonts are embedded in the PDF,
but it does not tell me whether it subset them.

The bottom line: It appears as tho the open source community does not now
offer an application that will meet my current needs regarding my book's
publication. Your thoughts on the matter will be appreciated.

Bill Bailey
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