[scribus] Taking the plunge with Scribus!

Bruce McIntyre ooga at shaw.ca
Thu Apr 22 01:41:26 CEST 2010

Hello, Scribus gurus:

Over the past two months I took a major plunge and decided to discard 
Windows/Microsoft Publisher and give Ubuntu and Scribus a serious try.  
For the past five years my main job using Publisher had been to produce 
booklets we call 'Daily Bulletins' at bridge tournaments in the Pacific 
Northwest region of Canada and the US, at our annual huge tournament in 
Penticton BC, and smaller ones mostly in Seattle and Vancouver areas, 
with a few visits elsewhere.

These publications are produced OVERNIGHT, with about 6-8 hours between 
the time I receive the data from the day's play and the time I hope to 
get it to a copy centre in pdf form.  The publications are 
monochrome-grayscale, in booklet form on legal size paper (with a cover 
page of some bright pastel colour, which means page 1 and 2 are actually 
8.5 inches tall and 3 inches wide) and range from 12 pages at a small 
tournament to 24 pages in Penticton.  You can see my work (the most 
recent one in Spokane was done with Scribus) at this website:


I bought the Scribus manual and even purchased an inexpensive laptop and 
installed Ubuntu alone on it.  My old laptop (about 5 years old) also 
came with me to Spokane with only Ubuntu installed, but while in Spokane 
I had to quickly install XP on it to use a new bridge hand duplicating 
machine requiring Windows.  (Go see www.dealer4.com if you're 
interested...I had no time to test it in WINE)  The plan was to use this 
smaller tournament to get accustomed to Scribus and Linux, solve the 
issues that proved unsolvable in Spokane upon my return, then the real 
test would be in Penticton this June, where the publications are twice 
as large...

I'm pleased to be able to say that my overall impression of Scribus, 
after using it in a pressure situation for one week, is favourable, and 
most of the stuff I write below is perhaps more applicable to a newcomer 
looking to try out Scribus as I did, rather than a request for 
improvements.  In most cases, I was able to find a solution to the 
problems that cropped up, and could look forward to streamlining the 
process in the future even better.  I will need to take some serious 
looks at my own workflow before the next tournament, and I am confident 
that I can improve it quite a bit.  But as one might expect, the first 
time through was a bit of a highwire act!

I have Ubuntu 9.10 and Scribus 1.3.5svn (Ghostscript 8.70) installed.  
It's quite possible that many of these concerns have already been 
addressed, but Ubuntu doesn't have a newer version.

Here are some major concerns:

1) Booklet printing.  I think I have this one licked, but it is going to 
take some serious explaining to get your average copy-center worker to 
follow the procedure in section 8.4.3 of the manual.  It would be a lot 
more convenient to incorporate booklet printing and imposition into the 
PDF export section of Scribus.  Under pressure, I made a silly decision 
to make full legal size pages with the imposition done myself, so my 
pages were 12-1, 2-11, 10-3, 4-9, 8-5, 6-7.  This worked with the FedEx 
Office people, but I found it time consuming to convert this to a normal 
order on half-pages to post a web version (in fact, as I write the first 
draft of this, I have one more to convert, two days after the end of the 
tournament, with e-mails wondering where these issues are!).  I think 
with a little experimentation with my own printer I can write a document 
detailing how to do the imposition within Acrobat Reader for the 
Penticton people.  But it would be a lot easier to have Scribus able to 
make the printer-version as a PDF export option.

2) Escape is impossible from the Master Pages dialog box!  This one 
drove me so nuts that I abandoned making master pages and just made a 
separate rectangle and draped some text on top of it for the bottom of 
each page. 
Once you hit Edit/Master Pages, the dialog box that comes up (Edit 
Master Pages) has no exit button.  The only way out, once you have 
created the Master Pages that you want, is to exit the program and 
restart!  I must be missing something here, but whatever the solution 
is, it is far from obvious.  What is needed is a exit button on that 
dialog box that saves the master pages you have created and returns you 
to editing the document.

3) "Copy of" paragraph styles are a major hassle.  I often have a 
paragraph style that for just one instance I want to centre instead of 
justify, or make bold instead of italic, or change the text size 
slightly, or whatever.  If Scribus feels honour-bound to keep each of 
these once-only styles as a "Copy of" style, that's fine, but please put 
them at the bottom of the list, so that I don't need to wade through 
them to get the styles that I actually use.

4) Tabs in Style Editor.  I make pretty extensive use of all kinds of 
tabs in displaying result data from the various types of bridge events.  
I spend a considerable amount of time converting the raw data from the 
bridge scoring program to formatted data with tabs.  We need to have a 
look at creating styles and setting tabs.  Comparing to the Attributes 
box's XYZ section, this is the difference:

--In the Attributes Box, we see numbers like this: 0.2444 in
--In the Edit Styles area, we see numbers like this in the tabs section: 
0.2453800000000000000000000000000000000003452349256 in

I know what I find easier to work with.  Yet, when I tried to edit the 
tab specs, often I would edit the above meganumber to '0.25 in' and 
click elsewhere, and look back to find that it was suddenly something 
like 67.234347194582..... 

5) Story Editor Problems.  In general, I like the Story Editor far 
better than editing a story directly.  It works well for multiple edits, 
you can update and see the changes right away, even in a long story that 
carries over several pages, and for the most part it seemed to work 
well.  I'm actually quite surprised at this: when I started using MS 
Publisher I did not own a copy of Word and the word processor within 
Publisher was the most powerful word processor I had!  A few problems I 
faced in Scribus's Story Editor:

--I had a paragraph style that called for 2pt type on 3pt leading, that 
I used without any actual text, to create small spaces quickly.  When I 
wanted to center two lines with one or two intervening small-space 
lines, I would select the text from the start of the first to the end of 
the next, including the small-space lines, and click on the center 
button.  This invariably changed the size of all the text within the 
selection to 2pt.  Other attributes remained the same.  This badly needs 
a fix; it's inconvenient to have to select each line separately and center.

--I was forever clicking on the styles for individual paragraphs in the 
Story Editor to change the style for that paragraph.  Selecting the text 
for multiple paragraphs and changing the style only changes the listed 
style for the first.  This needs to be corrected.

--'Underline everything' does not seem to include tab spaces.  Most of 
my game result headings look something like this:

Score  MPts   A    B    C     Thursday Open 
Pairs                                 (13, 14 tables)

These columns are for a pair's score, the masterpoints they have won by 
finishing at their final rank, their rank in strat A, B and C (in 
tournament bridge, all pairs are eligible for strat A, but only pairs 
with less experience are eligible for the lower strats, which have their 
separate rankings and masterpoint awards), the names and cities of the 
players (under the name of the event in the header line), and (on the 
header line only, on a right-tab) the number of tables playing in the 
event.  The whole header line should be underlined, but Scribus insisted 
on this:

Score  MPts   A    B    C     Thursday Open 
Pairs                                 (13, 14 tables)
-----  ----   -    -    -     
-------------------                                 ---------------

It actually looked worse with the partial underlining than it did 
without any underlining, so I gave it up and went without for the week.  
But I would like to get it back.  (I am aware that there are different 
underlining options, and I think I tried all of them.)

OK -- that's enough to get started.  I have a few minor issues as well, 
but I'll let you get started with this stuff.  Thanks in advance for 
your help and support.

|     Bruce  McIntyre     |     email:  ooga at shaw.ca       |
| 9541 Erickson Dr, #1103 | "OO-ga-shaw-ca, OO-ga-shaw-ca" |
|    Burnaby BC CANADA    | Editor -- www.matchpointer.com |
|  V3J 7N8  604-438-9735  |    (ACBL Unit 430 Web Site)    |
|     Yamaha WX5 wind-synthesizer virtuoso-in-training     |

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