[scribus] Letter to all Scribus developers

Roberto Costa robertocmcosta at gmail.com
Fri Mar 26 17:44:45 CET 2010

Submitted on 03/26/2010
Submitted by anonymous user: []

Submitted values are:

   Your contact information:
     Name: Roberto Costa
     Email Address: robertocmcosta at gmail.com
   About your Scribus program:
     Version: 1.3.6svn
     Prebuilt/Compiled: Compiled
     Build Date: 16. March 2008
   Your operating system and CPU:
     Type: MacOS X
     Version: 10.6
     CPU type: 64 bit - x86_64/amd64
   Your request content:
     Subject: Letter to all Scribus developers
Hi everyone,

Before anything else, I'd like to congratulate you guys for the tireless  
effort to develop such a necessary, promising and unique tool in the  
opensource universe. I've been following Scribus with keen interest since  
version 1.0, back in 2003.
Now let me introduce myself: my name is Roberto Costa and I've worked for 17  
years at Desktop Publishing and Graphic Design. I started out working for a  
publing company, then for print house and more recently for some agencies.  
During all this time, I studied and mastered the main page layout tools, from  
(Aldus) Pagemaker to QuarkXpress, passing (rapidly) by Corel Ventura, up to  
Indesign. I've followed with keen interest the evolution of these tools, as  
they're part of my professional life. No doubt, Adobe and Quark Inc. deserve  
all acknowledgment for their contribution to the publishing and design  
markets over the last 20 years. But at the same time I feel quite  
disappointed at these companies' commercial strategy which prevent  
professionals like me to have their own work tools. I say that because here  
in Brazil, with an almost 100% import tax and currency exchange taxes,  
software prices double twice, making many companies and invididuals opt to  
use illegal copies.
So I have the exact notion of what you are doing. You are opening the way for  
us to get rid of the necessity to use proprietary tools to work. Thank you  
for this.
I find very interesting the straight interaction between users and developers  
in the opensource universe. You deserve congratulations for this too.
So I have a few comments and suggestions to offer you from my usage of  
Scribus so far. I hope you understand my point of view (Note: I use Scribus  
mainly on MacOS 10.6, downloaded and built from SVN code. I've also  
downloaded the newly released 1.3.6 binary). So let's go.
I think Scribus has made great strands on the Mac platform, as far as speed  
is concerned. I think this comes from the transition from qt3 to qt4.  
However, one can still feel some sluggishness while dragging items, selecting  
text (the worst) and panning or scrolling through pages. So this is my first  
1)Lack of responsiveness. Scribus must get more responsive and agile. When  
Adobe release version 1.0 of Indesign, many rejected it for being so sluggish  
compared to QuarkXpress or even Pagemaker. I think this should be a top  
priority for you. To find ways to optimize Scribus code for speed.

My second criticism relates to usability. I know this is a hot topic among  
you, as you have discussed it over and over. Still, I'd like to share my  
honest thought about this from user perspective. Scribus interface needs more  
attention to make look more like a Pro tool. Here are my suggestions:
1)Toolbox, bars and properties palette icons all need refactoring. They lack  
contrast and definition. Perhaps a shaded look would be much better.
2)I also suggest using black and white icons, that might change to  
one-colored icons when selected. Perhaps a blueish tone might be good.
3)The toolbox should float vertically instead of horizontally.
4)I think the toolbox has too many icons, 19 in all. Some could be suppressed  
(as a menu option) or grouped. For instance, “insert text frame” +  
“edit frame content” in one icon. Less is more. QuarkXpress 8 in  
comparison reduced its toolbox icons to just 8. Scribus might get near that.
5)The panning function, locked after pressing the spacebar, is confusing and  
annoying. It'd be better if it stayed activated only while pressing the  
spacebar. Panning should also work horizontally even when pages are viewed at  
6)The mouse icon used when transforming items (arrows) looks excessively  
7)The lines (edges) around selected items and pages look too thick. Couldn't  
they be a little thinner?
8)Guides look strange, with an irregular dotting pattern. They should be  
9)Now, the properties palette. I know many of you have strong opinions about  
this. But frankly, it needs attention. Yes all needed functions are there.  
But it feels confusing and messy. To make it friendlier and more functional,  
besides giving it better looking icons, maybe you could make it  
context-sensitive. For example, if you select the edit content tool and a  
text frame, the palette should instantly display the text and paragraph  
control properties. If you select an image frame, it should display the image  
controls, text-wraps etc. It makes more sense this way. I also think the  
palette should be dockable instead of floating.
As for the X, Y, Z tab, I think it should be moved away from the palette to  
the bottom bar, so as to be always accessible.

Now my last and more controversial criticism: the application name. Scribus  
does not seem to be a an appropriate name for a page layout application. It  
conveys the idea of a writing application, since the original latin word  
relates to a writer. I know many of you may get offended but please consider  
the possibility of giving Scribus a name more related to Publishing, Layout,  
Design etc. Something in the lines of LivePages, OpenLayout, Precise.

Well, this has been a long post. I really wish you take into account my  
criticism (or at least part of it) because, like you, I too want Scribus to  
grow and become an international standard in the publishing market in the  
very near future.

Thank you.

The results of this submission may be viewed at:

More information about the scribus mailing list