[Scribus] spellcheck for Scribus

Louis Desjardins louis.desjardins
Fri Dec 28 17:34:44 CET 2007

2007/12/27, John Beardmore <John at t4sltd.co.uk>:
> Cedric Sagne wrote:
> > 1) Most importantly... can it be disabled?
> > Scribus can get slow with large documents, large amounts of text. I am
> > worried a complex feature like this will threaten the stability of the
> > application.
> I'm not sure why it should threaten it in Scribus any more than word, OO
> etc ?
> Presumably when working, even 'as you type' within a moderate number of
> linked text boxes, it's not even working on a particularly large data
> set, and I doubt any spelling checkers are aware of a context beyond the
> current sentence ?  It doesn't sound intrinsically hard to debug or make
> stable ?
> > 2) FACT:
> No need to shout.
> > In a proper work flow, text is spell-checked before being
> > inserted, and design is a separate work from copy writing, possibly even
> > done by different people.
> Possibly, but I suspect this sort of assumption is decreasingly true,
> and personally I somewhat resent it.
> I got into DTP by writing news letters.  Back in the mid 90s we found
> that word was unstable, so purchased Pagemaker which was a massive
> improvement.
> We mostly worked by interactively fitting the text we had into whatever
> space was left around the artwork that we had.  Either could be adjusted
> to arrive at the effect we wanted.
> This may not conform to anybody elses ideal, but it worked well for us
> then as environmental activists, and it continues to work well for us
> now as environmental professionals.
> I'm not sure what a "proper workflow" is, but I really resent it when
> people tell me that we can't have the tools we want because of some
> local notion of propriety !


Interesting discussion. Let me add my 2 cents!

We know a workflow is a whole sequence of procedures meant to have one goal
of publishing a document in the most efficient way. That is, having in mind
time, cost, material for a given result. A workflow can be of different
nature and involve various steps, and repetition of some of them, in time,
depending upon the nature of the work, the people involved, their skills,
etc.. To be efficient, a workflow has to be agreed upon each actor involved
in the chain (or if not, then there is a need to enforce that workflow by
means of hierarchy or coordination of the work, somehow). Even when there is
only one person taking care of every steps, there is a need to get the work
organized. There is a need to have a workflow.

Variations occur. Changes in plans, etc. But the workflow can remain pretty
stable. It goes like that all the way to the very last steps, when the
document is on press, and in post-press, etc.

Of course, this mut include copy editing, revision and proofreading. At
which point in a given workflow anyone having to deal with document
publishing wants to deal with copy editing, we could say it is a personnal
choice. But this proves to be untrue if there are lots of people involved in
the chain, lots of decisional level too. Again, those people have to agree
upon certain way of doing things, and in what order otherwise the publishing
process can become very difficult to control. And we sure don't want to
waste anyone's time.

The issues raised by the use of a spellchecker in production are numerous
and we could discuss this for hours. But there are certain things we have to

There is no evil into a spellchecker. Only, people have to know about this
tool, how to use it best, when it's best to use it, how to fit it into a
workflow that work in a given situation. There could even be different
pratices for different sections of a same publication. For instance, the
cover page of a newspaper has its own production steps, pretty different
from the classified ads section. When do we "close" a section or a page? To
answer we must consider the sensitivity of the information that is on a
given page. Changes may occur up to the last minute (there are lots of last
minutes in a publishing chain!).

Long intro to mention that, as a rule that may have many exceptions, it is
far better to spellcheck (and edit thoroughly) any text before starting the
layout but there are cases where it will prove to be the way around. But
again, if so far some of us don't recommend warmly to do this within
Scribus, it's partly because of the difficulties the application still has
with text manoeuvres. Otherwise, there would be no reason not to simply use
Scribus as a real copy editor, with all the facilties such as a good
spellchecker (and don't forget that a computer cannot think, thus
understand), and the hyphenation setting, and the desired typographic
enhancements, and the desired column width, etc.. And then, still using
Scribus, one could take this edited text and complete the layout. This could
be one suggested workflow. Might work for some. Might need some polishing in
the corners for others.

Adobe has InCopy and Quark has CopyDesk. Both solutions rely on a robust
text engine. I don't have the figures about how well those products do in
the marketplace but from my own profesionnal perspective, it is very rarely
that I have heard of those programs. Probably because MS Word is so well
spreaded that people outside the DTP world are reluctant to use yet another
format. This might explain why we never ever got any client who sent us a
text file set in any of those programs in over 20 years in this business.
Scribus brings fresh air in this world. When Scribus will have such a robust
text engine that will allow any kind of (fast) copy editing, we will be able
to introduce that delicate task into the publishing workflow using more
extensively Scribus ? and this will prove to be efficient. At present time
this is not the case from a demanding production stand point workflow and I
can only wish we will get to this point soon. In the meantime, any steps
forward are welcome and the addition of a good spellchecker is one of them.
If you ask me if I would use it at the moment, I would certainly answer no,
because once the text is in Scribus, heavy editing is still too demanding
for the actual capabilities of the application. But again, what is not
useful for people like me might prove to be just fine in other workflows.

Provided we have this text "heavy editing" capabilities, there are great
chances we see more and more people use Scribus not only as a layout
application but also as a text editor. I can already imagine the big step
forward! But this also means that such a tool allowing "text people" to be
closer to the layout will oblige everyone in the chain to accept with even
more humility the limits of their interventions. While there is no evil in a
spellchecker, evil ? we say ? is in the details and when we allow last
minute changes, then evil can slip through and spoil the efforts of a lot of
people, no matter whether there is a spellchecker or not. If we look at the
spellchecker as a "laisser-passer" for any kind of last-minute text editing,
I deeply think this is wrong. But it is more a matter of how to use the tool
than the tool itself. As in most cases... :)

Happy New Year to all!


> WHY: This is meant to reduce the overhead on the designer,
> Still no need to shout...
> And "Meant" by who anyway ??
> > ensure a step
> > by step which will reduce iterations (costly in time).
> Hmmm...  If I make a change in Scribus, then have to export the text to
> spell check it, that's what I call "costly in time" !!
> No need to shout.  Did we all get asked what constitutes good
> practice ?  I don't recall being sent a voting slip !
> > It is good practice even when you have to do everything:
> > spotting a typo and changing your text when everything is nearly
> > finished is also a safe way to get a typo all the way in your final
> output.
> I don't think there is much point in spell checking until you are
> COMPLETELY finished !
> Now you've got me shouting !
> Aaaagh !
> > A spell checker encourages copy writers to request last minute
> > changes instead of getting the spellcheck done when it is due.
> I wonder what proportion of us work in environments where copy writers
> plat a role as a stand alone entity ?
> A straw poll might be interesting ?
> > The
> > impact on good practice is twofold as although word spelling is within
> > reach of computers, style changes, grammar, vocabulary changes are not.
> > If copy writers get into the habit of changing their text after it is
> > handed over to design, they can become iteration champions.
> This may be an issue in such environments, but I suspect the bulk of us
> both specify and undertake out work.
> Even where I specify and delegate, for the most part, I still want the
> to work in the DTP environment, developing text interactively with the
> graphical resources, and making the iterations required to get the job
> done as documents evolve over time, possibly being passed around two or
> three authors.
> > CONCLUSION: In short, and apart from the software stability viewpoint,
> > the work flow impact seems to offset the gains,
> Some of what you say may apply in a 'sausage machine' / 'conveyor belt'
> journalism environment, but I'm not sure that it holds in more creative
> and considered disciplines such as the production of technical
> documentation.
> > especially when
> > dedicated word processors do that task very well.
> If a word processing environment did what I wanted well, I'd be working
> in it, but even the best, e.g. word and OO, don't cope that well with
> the production of large technical documents.
> For the sort of work we do, something with page layout AND an 'as you
> type' spelling checker would be ideal.  Scribus is starting to do the
> first part excellently.  I really don't want some notion of propriety
> standing in the way of the second one unless there is a really good
> reason.
> I'm thus pleading for a spelling checker as soon as possible, ideally
> one which highlights errors 'as you type' !
> Cheers, J.
> --
> John Beardmore, MSc EDM (Open), B.A. Chem (Oxon), CMIOSH, AIEMA, MEI
> Managing Director, T4 Sustainability Limited. http://www.T4sLtd.co.uk/
> Carbon Trust Consultant: Energy Audit, Carbon Footprint, Design Advice
> Energy Efficiency Accreditation Scheme Registered Assessor
> P:0845 4561332  F:0870 0522417  M:07785 563116  Skype:t4sustainability
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