[scribus] Formula in 1.3.5 (bug)

John Jason Jordan johnxj at comcast.net
Wed Apr 8 18:42:25 CEST 2009

On Wed, 08 Apr 2009 09:41:23 +0200
"a.l.e" <ale.comp_06 at xox.ch> dijo:

> hi john jason
> > My work requires hundreds of formulas per document, so I need something
> > relatively quick and easy that also gets me good output. If anyone has
> > any other suggestions, please speak up!

> i don't know the details of your work, but if the formulas are indeed 
> the main part of your work and you wish to work with free software, i 
> guess you should consider the option to learn -- and use -- latex (or 
> tex or any other alternative tex(like) engine which has already been 
> discussed in this list).

You are absolutely right about LaTeX or its fellow travelers for
documents needing formulas. However, you are also right that it is not
so hot if your work is design intensive. Sadly, my stuff is both. 

Over the years I have typset several dozen books and have studied
professional book layout. The tools I used in the past were Ventua,
PageMaker, QuarkXPress, InDesign, and the most recent, OpenOffice. I
also operate a small book publishing company. I do know what I'm doing
when it comes to book design and layout.

One of the things you didn't mention is that brains don't come off an
assembly line. Mine requires seeing what I am doing. I recall the very
first book I produced, using WordPerfect for DOS. I also recall reams
of wasted paper as I had to print each page over and over to see what
was actually going to come out. I could go back to a text-based system
if I had to, but it makes me shudder. It's a pathetic waste of trees
and time. My brain also insists that the design is part of the content.
I've been known to rewrite some text if I need to in order to get a
paragraph to look right on the page.

I recently spent three solid days in LyX trying to get it to work. The
whole idea behind it is to be a tool for a non-professional book
designer to be able to write a book and let the "experts" who created
LaTeX make the decisions about what fonts to use and what sizes, etc.
Therefore you are constrained from doing a lot of things. But as a
professional I have a lot of issues with their choices. For example, in
professional textbook design there are frequent tables, graphics and
other non-text elements. It is customary to indent paragraphs so the
reader can see the new paragraph, but you don't indent the first
paragraph after a header, a graphic, a table, or other non-text
element. So you can imagine my annoyance when I discovered that LaTeX
requires me to make a choice globally for the entire document, and the
choices are to indent all paragraphs, or separate all paragraphs with
an extra space. That's just wrong. Through the entire three days I
worked in it I struggled trying to get it to do what I needed to do. I
couldn't even set the title page because I wasn't allowed to set the
text at a large enough point size. 

And then there is the issue of fonts. LyX, LaTeX, Kile and all the
other tools ultimately rest on TeX. TeX has some cool features, but
font choices are not on the list. In fairness, it was created back in
the day when operating systems did not have a font server and fonts
were not even displayed graphically on screen. Getting good typography
in such an envionment required Knuth to make his own fonts and all the
metrics files they needed in order to work with TeX. While some of the
benefits of this system are useful, the downside is that you are stuck
with a very small set of fonts to choose from. Yes, you can use XeTeX,
but it's another add-on.

I love Scribus to pieces. It is my #1 choice by far. I don't have to
fight someone else's design decisions. It's a joy to use. But with
Scribus I have a different frustration - I need some features that it
does not quite yet have. 

So here I sit, poking at Scribus in the hopes of figuring out
workarounds for the missing pieces. Or I could just give up and usse
InDesign - I do have a copy. But then I have to use a proprietary
format so I won't be able to open my files five years from now when I
need to do a second edition, unless I pay the price for Adobe's forced
upgrades. Worse, I have to struggle to keep my lunch down as I put up
with the corporate BS. 

The long and the short of it is that there is no perfect solution for
me. I just have to beg forgiveness of y'all as I use this list to try
to figure out ways to get Scribus to do what I need. 

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