[scribus] the docs license

john Culleton John at wexfordpress.com
Wed Apr 11 14:15:44 UTC 2012

On Wed, 11 Apr 2012 15:01:10 +0200 "Meho R." <mehor at gmx.com>

> I'm not sure about which apps you're talking, but I personally
> can't remember using a FOSS app in last couple of years which
> doesn't come with at least some basic infos about its usage or
> a man page. Saying that most of OSS lack documentation
> completely is quite an exaggeration.
> ___
Lets consider some cases: Inkscape has a big thick manual that
you can access on line for free or you can buy in paper form for
money. The irony is that the printed version doesn't have any
color pages in it. You can download the illos in color and print
them out yourself but that is an unhandy result. (I did it
anyhow.) There is also a small B/W book, the contents of which are
taken direcly from various wiki pages etc.  The whole book is
GPLed. Copying is encouraged.

Context, a TeX variant, has many manuals, too many in fact, which
can be downloaded, but the main manual is very obsolete.
The godfather of Context, Hans Hagen, likes to write new books
but appparently doesn't like to update old ones.

The rest of TeX has lots of pdf papers you can download and also
several books that have been written. The problem is that if it
is in print it is very old. This works for a dinosaur like me but
the latest and greatest changes (e.g., how to use OTF fonts) are
in individual papers, which themselves don't always keep up.

Gimp had a huge manual that you could download or buy in paper
form. Today's manual is online, and in html format. It is pretty
much kept up to date. It is not downloadable unless you want to 
deal with converting a manual in html format. Also the content 
is in individual chunks of html, easy to access online but tedious
to download in its entirety.

There are several excellent books available but they are
expensive and aren't updated frequently enough.  

Open COBOL has an excellent manual that you can download and
print out. I don't refer to it often because I wrote my first
COBOL program in 1968.

So what model should Scribus follow? In the case of Inkscape the
manual author and the publisher of same is one person. He has a
perfect right to sell his work product. We don't have a parallel
author of Scribus documentation. No single person authors and
owns it. The latest useful commmercial book is both obsolete
(version 1.3.5) and not comprehensive compared to the even more
obsolete "The Scribus Manual". 

I would suggest that the present online Scribus manual be put in
pdf form and made available for download. Or else it could be
GPLed and whoever wanted to convert it and get it printed could do so. 

The answer is there are no perfect answers. But most successful
Open Source products have documentation both online and
purchasable in book form. Scribus needs a complete and reasonably
up to date comprehensive manual. And I don't know how to arrive
at that.  

John Culleton

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