[Scribus] feedback from typesetting 250 page book

Louis Desjardins louisdesjardins
Fri May 5 05:46:05 CEST 2006

>Hi All,
>Ive just come out of typesetting a book in scribus and have the
>following feedback and questions.
>Generally I found it excellent, up until the point of more than 50
>pages, however I will focus on the difficulties I encountered and
>questions I could not work out answers to. Ill break it down into bugs,
>  useability and features. I encountered many issues and ended up
>installing scribus 1.3.3 on Ubuntu PPC, Fink, and Ubuntu x86 using
>everything from XDarwn to Fluxbox to get the best results.
>Please give me an indication of which points I should enter into the bug
>tracker and I will do so. If something is unclear in how I have
>described it, or its not possible to recreate the problem becuase I
>haven't given enough info then please let me know and I'll do my best to


As I went through a similar process as yours a few months ago, I will 
go through your post and give some advice from the user perspective. 
Others of this list will come up with more technical answers. I think 
both are going to help you at some point.

>_Bugs_ -
>1. My biggest issue was the slowness of using the story editor.
>To do a find and replace of inch marks to turn them into curly quotes in
>the story editor it would take up to 30 seconds per replacement. This
>would mean sometimes a wait of 10 minutes for doing a 'replace all' on a
>  15 page article for inch marks alone. It seems that the story editor
>rescans the entire text for a single replacement.

You have 2 options to avoid this, until Scribus gets better on this.

A. Edit thoroughly all your text in a text editor or a word 
processor. Such extensive Search & Replace  is simply not a good idea 
with long text in Scribus, from my own personnal experience.

B. If you are going to do this anyway in Scribus, I suggest you first 
create your first page with auto text frame enabled. This will help 
you down the road. As a next step, get your text in. The text will 
all be imported but will be in that first frame, on the first page, 
and there will be a red crossed square a the bottom right telling you 
there is more text... Perform the Search & Replace on that page. All 
occurences will be found and replaced and it will take not much time, 
even with a long text. Perform all the S&R you need and THEN create 
new pages to accomodate all the text. At that point, you'll be 
entering the layout part of the job.

>2. Once I got over 40,00 words or so the whole program was running VERY
>VERY slowly. This was mildly improved by using Fluxbox instead of GNOME
>in the non cross platform attempts. The total word count was 88,361
>which was unmanageable.

You could've tried to break your text in smaller stories. I've done 
my own book of 136 pages in 6 sections of around 20 pages. Worked out 
well after I learned not to edit text too extensively.

>3. Opening files took a long time sometimes a few minutes when the files
>got more text - sometimes up to 5 minutes or more.

Maybe it's a good idea to split your book in a few significant parts. 
Once you will be done with the layout, it is easy to append pages 
from another document. This is of course a workaround and I don't 
assume Scribus should work that way. It's just to get you going the 
next time.

>4. Once the file got over 200 pages I was not able to reopen it at all -
>  this was heartbreaking as I really lost a lot of work at this point. I
>can send the file through to any of the developers to look at if you
>think it would be helpful for you, just mail me offlist.
>5. the page numbers stopped appearing in the 'page navigation' box after
>34 pages in Scribus 1.3.2 Fink.
>6. The in 'document setup' the 'sections' option made the box appear
>infinitely to the right hand side in  Scribus 1.3.2 Fink making it unusable.
>7. When Copy and pasting text boxes repeatedly over many pages sometimes
>the title of the text boxes (normally saying 'textbox 164' or something
>like that) would be replaced by a huge string of xml. (I belive that Ive
>seen this reported in the bug tracker or mailing but thought I should
>mention it again in case)

4-7 will be better answered by the devels. I leave it up to them! :)

>1. The fact that it is not possible to adjust the line spacing of a
>single line of text (i.e. to pull it up closer to the line above)
>without effecting all other lines of text in the text box is a serious
>problem. Or am I missing something here?

I understand you would've wanted to use the lock to baseline grid 
feature for some paragraphs and unlock for some others. This is 
easily managed with the help of stylesheet. You set the baseline grid 
in the Prefs and you click on the linespacing icon in the Stylesheet 
dialog. The icon is actually a pull down menu and you'll see the 
option there. Select it. I assume at that point you have the 
knowledge to figure out what settings would suit your needs. If I'm 
wrong, post again. We will help you.

>2. I know its been said before, but.. The baseline and linespacing
>options took me two days to find. Its placement is not intuitive at all.
>Make the options as checkboxes or at least have text in the 'up' display
>of the drop down menu.

Oh. You got it. This is going to be redesigned. Please dont' file a 
bug for this. We know.

>3. it would be good if it was possible to import open office .sxw files
>from the story editor. At the moment its only possible to do this with
>the right mouse click and selecting 'get text...'. But not possible when
>using thee 'load from file' in the story editor, this seems a flaw in logic.

Not sure about this one. Should work afaik. Bug was filed a good 
while ago. Maybe the devels will have something more specific to say.

>4. The strange scribus clipboard makes it impossible to get formatted
>and stylesheeted text out of the program while maintaining the
>formatting. It would be invaluable if it was change this to use the
>operating systems clipboard - or to make a feature that allows the user
>to intentionally use the operating systems clipboard instead.

Devels... again!

>1. I couldnt work out how to make elements on a page that I could use in
>a similar way to the way that indesign and quark hav the master pages ->
>where I can use elements n a page that are easy to duplicate yet also

The elements on the Master Pages are only editable in the Master 
Page. So, basically, nothing can be added to an empty text frame on a 
MP, for instance. I agree the expected behaviour of this is what you 

>2. Character styles are invaluable when working with books. I would
>think twice before using scribus for a book again without the feature of
>character styles.

Character styles are on the roadmap.

>3. Smart punctuation would also be an invaluable feature. By smart
>punctuation  I mean changing inch marks into directional curly quotes
>and single apostrophes into single quote marks when they need to.

This can be done in the WP or Text Editor at the moment. I am not 
sure wether this is filed as a feature request already. You might 
want to search the bug tracker and look for it. If you don't find it, 
then register and file one.

>4. I saw recently the website addition of a script that adds crop marks,
>but I fell this is a very important feature to offer as default.

Agree. It's on the road map.

>7. It would be good to have a similar feature for 'sections' like with
>the 'insert page number' option. So that you could simlpy insert a
>'section name' for running headlines etc.

This, you can do from within the Master Page. Simply create as many 
Master Pages as you need (at least one per section and 2 if you have 
a facing pages layout). You can put your running headline there. You 
can duplicate the Master Page and edit it after.

In my view, although some people on this list will tell us Tex is 
better at handling long text such as yours... :) in my view I still 
believe Scribus should be able to handle this kind of text in the 
long run. When you concentrate on the layout and leave the big text 
editing on the other side of the fence, you'll be happy with Scribus, 
imo. Of course, the lack of character style is at the moment a big 
piece missing, it is nonetheless manageable, in my view, and to a 
certain extent of course.



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