[Scribus] It's what people don't tell you...

Allen techwriter
Wed Jul 26 03:50:15 CEST 2006

BandiPat wrote:


> Guys, don't get the book thing stuck in your head, it's not the point I
> believe Allen was trying to make.  Scribus is designed to do
> typesetting, page layout of which books fit into that category.  The
> editing of the text included in that book layout is better done in a
> text editor or word processor, which are faster forms of input, but the
> ultimate goal is the layout using Scribus.  I doubt Allen and those
> other guys didn't understand that.

Actually for writing technical manuals (often multiple books in a set - 
I'm supposed to start on one next month that is 11 books and about 1400 
pages total with about 300 illustrations, forms, and pix) Framemaker is 
both the page layout and typesetting tool via a master template. It can 
take a couple of weeks to do the template what with TOC, index, tables 
of illustrations and figures, appendixes, bibliography, a variety of 
special page templates, 30 to 100 or so paragraph styles, 15 or so 
character styles, and documenting what you have done in a form that 
other writers can pour text into, or more commonly, write directly in a 
copy of the master that has been renamed. A template created for a 
company like Cisco would cost them about $10,000. A tech writer friend 
used to manage one of the documentation units at Cisco so I have that 
from the horses mouth, so to speak.

When I'm doing documentation I find it much faster to do it in 
Framemaker directly rather than pour it in from a plain text editor or a 
word processor. Most technical writers that I know have similar views. 
The reasons are many, but boil down to being able to adjust the template 
as one works when one discovers that none of the pre-created styles work 
with the material one discovers doing the research. Often one finds that 
the way material is presented on the page makes a difference in the 
reader's ability to understand the contents.

The other key issue is that if it is done in Framemaker directly it can 
be shipped to people for review in a form very close to the final look 
and feel, which really helps those who are not adept at reviewing plain 
text without the contextual material.

There is the further issue that if it is done directly in Framemaker 
other technical writers can work on it without destroying the layout, 
which often happens with Word. An additional benefit of working directly 
in Framemaker is that one can use (and keep track of!) text inset 
boilerplate from a standing document maintained by someone else. Change 
it once in one place and import it into as many documents (at IBM there 
were 300+ documents that needed a few standing elements in the unit I 
was in) as need it. In the same manner one could use conditional text so 
that Model A got text that only included features related to it, but 
Model A+ got the conditional text that included the extra features of 
the A+ line. One document, one set of corrections for the base features, 
and yet two different, if related, finished books. And books they are, 
anywhere from 70 or so pages to 800+ page sleeping pills that are sent 
out to printers to do runs from 25 to 25,000. They all looked the same, 
they all had the same structure and layout. Plus you could send the 
output directly to the web, help files, PDFs, or whatever was wanted.

 From some of the stuff I had been told about Scribus I was under the 
impression it was moving in that direction. I guess I heard wrong.



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