[Scribus] Adaptable layout templates

Ludwig M. Solzen scribus
Wed Mar 28 04:03:56 CEST 2007

Avox: > FO, used for lowlevel text layout

Timo Stollenwerk: > Do you mean the transformation SLA->FO?
> I don't think this is possible because you can do much
> more in Scribus than in FO.

I'm not quite sure if that is true. The XSL specifications do include lots
of features that are not available either in Scribus nor in InDesign, Quark,
etc. <fo:initial-property-set font-variant="small-caps"/>, for example,
allows the stylesheet designer to have the FO processor to typeset the first
line of a paragraph in small caps. (Future versions would even allow to
define a line depth.) This might be done in InDesign with nested styles if
it were not for the fact that a soft line-break is not available as a
marker. With Xpath functions (build into XSL) the user can program even more
intelligent conditional behaviour, such as switching between
font-style="regular" and font-style="italic" for strings tagged with <em/>
if the surrounding paragraph would be styled in italic and regular

XSL-FO is but a style definition format, not in the least responsible for
the quality of the typesetting or lay-out. And in this respect it's doing
quite a good job, that is, as an inventory of feasible layout and formatting
patterns. It is the processor (typesetting engine if you will), its line and
page-breaking algorithms, hyphenation routines, and, of course, its support
of XSL-FO, that are responsible for the typographical output quality.

Sure, extra features or formatting objects could be defined in addition to
the XSL specs. These may be submitted to the specification owners who might
include them into future versions. Nothing prevents developers, however,
from devising of and implementing support for such additional features into
their apps. In this respect I suggested that if such features were to exist
in Scribus (e.g. non-rectangular text frames), they could be defined in a FO
compliant vocabulary and added to Scribus's own expanded version of XSL-FO.
The only thing that's needed to process FO satisfactory, is of course a good
Formatting Objects Processor. Apache FOP is one to start with, while TeX is
being transformed into yet a better one, taking advantage of TeX's superior
typesetting capabilities. Such and such a FO engine, build-in as a back-end
processor for Scribus, would yield very high level text layout and


Ludwig: >> The more difficult part is of course to display
>> the FOP output within the Scribus GUI environment, so  
>> that the user could refine the automated output manually.
Timo Stollenwerk: > This would require a XSLT Stylesheet
>> FO->SLA.

Either that, or have Scribus to display .fo natively, i.e. on-the-fly as a
WYSIWYG editor. .sla is structured as xml: would it be possible, to some
extent, to convert .fo to .sla using xsl transformations? I know this could
be done with the Adobe InDesign Interchange format (.inx), which is xml.


Michael Koren: > For my diploma thesis I've read some
> scientific papers about adaptive layout techniques
> (if you are interested, I can send them to you).

Could you send them to me too? scribus AT rhythmus .be
Thanks in advance!


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