[scribus] Is Scribus of No Practical Use to Engineers, Scientists and Mathematicians?

John Jason Jordan johnxj at comcast.net
Sun Aug 23 19:09:31 CEST 2009

On Sun, 23 Aug 2009 10:11:34 -0400
John Culleton <john at wexfordpress.com> dijo:

> On Sunday 23 August 2009 06:02:08 Professor Rodney Coates wrote:
> > I have Scribus running on a 17" Powerbook under OS-X 10.5.7
> >
> > The Symbol font will not display; Zapf Dingbats will not display;
> > Render Frame will not work (). Latex/Tex is not working/available

> For your use I suggest e.g, Lyx, which is semi-wysiwyg and  TeX based 
> or else TeX itself.  Scribus is not optimized of your purposes.  TeX 
> is. 

> I use both Scribus and pdftex, each for the kinds of tasks for which 
> it is best suited.   If you don't need the Lyx interface then 
> pdflatex or Context would be the tex variants to look at.
> Scribus is being rapidly developed. In the future may of the features 
> you need may be added. But  I wouldn't use it for the kind of work 
> you have in front of you.  TeX is there, TeX is stable, and TeX has 
> the features you need. 

Professor Coates' first problem is fundamentally a font issue. Many
programs literally substitute a glyph from another font when the font
the user has selected lacks the glyph. I find this behavior
reprehensible. I understand why developers of office applications
designed them to do this - the average office user doesn't even know
how to install a font on their computer, let alone how to use them. I
recently went to a class on phonetics at the request of the professor
in order to explain to the class how to use the International Phonetic
Alphabet on their computers. One student complained that she followed
the written instructions but after dropping the font into the fonts
folder on her Windows computer it did not work. She didn't know that
she needed to unzip it first. Half the students in the class had
similar issues that most on this list would consider idiot level
problems. And this was a graduate level class. 

Scribus will never substitute a glyph from another font. That is by
design because it is essential for print work. I have found Scribus to
be religious in this matter, and I am glad of it. It would be a
disaster to discover after a job comes off the press that a glyph did
not print.

However, I was recently bitten by having a glyph fail to appear. The
glyph appeared and printed fine from OpenOffice.org Writer, and it even
appeared in Scribus in the Story Editor. But it failed to appear in the
text frame. After much frustration I discovered that Writer was
substituting the glyph from another font, and was not even telling me
that it was doing so. Scribus was corrrect (although the Story Editor
needs work in this respect). 

Somewhere I read that recent versions of the MacOS substitute glyphs
system-wide. That may be a contributing factor to Professor Coates'
problem. But consider that comment utter hearsay. I have never used a

The Unicode value for Greek lambda is 3BB - λ. If the lambda does not
appear at the end of the preceding sentence, then the font you are
using in your mail client probably does not contain the glyph. I would
suggest copying and pasting the sentence into Scribus. If the lambda
does not appear, apply different fonts to the sentence. And rather than
selecting a Symbol font, just use the same font you are using for the
body text. Many fonts these days contain at least the basic Greek
characters in addition to the glyphs needed for writing other European

Regarding TeX, LaTeX, Lyx and fellow travelers, one or more of them may
be much better suited to the work that Professor Coates needs to do.
Indeed, TeX was originally created for academic papers in math and
science. However, the TeX family are not WYSIWIG, not even the front
ends like Lyx. I find them frustrating. And I have never heard any TeX
user claim that it is easy to learn. But brains don't come off an
assembly line. In the end only Professor Coates can decide which tool
clicks best for him.

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