[Scribus] Usability needs attention -- time for a feature moratorium?

Craig Ringer craig
Sun Jan 27 09:55:10 CET 2008

John Jason Jordan wrote:
>> The Scribus stable version is almost up to its 12th point release, ie, we are 
>> working on No major features are going into 1.3.3.x. 
>> All new work is going into 1.3.5, and some of the issues we face with 1.3.3.x 
>> can and will only be fixed with Qt4 and the versions developed with that 
>> toolkit.
> There are some new features that I find essential and until they are
> fully implemented I can use Scribus only for an occasional small
> project. Specifically, I am referring to being able to import PDFs
> without converting them to bitmaps
What specifically do you mean by that?

Do you want to be able to place a PDF element on the page (like in an 
image frame) and have it embedded without rasterisation when you export 
the document to PDF? Because that isn't theoretically that hard, though 
it requires some significant work on the PDF backend in Scribus and the 
incorporation of a PDF import library. Someone who knew the PDF backend 
code really well could probably do it (relatively) easily, embedding PDF 
pages as XObjects . Non-raster export to PostScript is also probably 
possible (when the PDF doesn't use transparency or other features 
missing from PS3) by conversion to EPS. I've had a look at doing the 
PDF-in-PDF embedding XObject work, but I really struggled with working 
on the PDF backend code in Scribus and landed up moving on  to other 
things (ditto with implementing imposition in the PDF backend).

The other possible take on what you're talking about would be importing 
PDF as fully editable objects. That's not impossible, but it's a whole 
lot harder than embedding PDFs as resources, and it'd require a bunch of 
changes and enhancements to Scribus's canvas to support all the various 
PDF features. Even then, editable text would be exceptionally difficult 
at best, probably just not practical. I'll be surprised if Scribus sees 
a really faithful and reliable editable PDF importer any time even 
remotely soon, if ever. Even Adobe's own products, like Acrobat 
Professional, are rather limited when it comes to editing PDF and 
sometimes mangle the PDF in the process.

>  and, most importantly, tables. I
> also need to be able to create editable PDFs where I can specify any
> font I want for the controls.
That's a PDF version limitation IIRC; you need to be using a PDF version 
with support for appearance streams on controls. Even then I don't think 
you can control the font used for user data entry except for using one 
of the core PDF fonts ( though I could easily be wrong about that ).

There was discussion about form control appearance streams some time 
ago. I have no idea how far it went or if there's any support in trunk 
for them.
> So in my opinion it would be nice if the the occasional problems that
> people report (like Ctrl-z not working as expected) can be fixed.
I agree, it'd  be nice. There are, however, only so many people involved 
and there's a whole lot to do.

Craig Ringer

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