Using Scribus
free graphics, code and ranting // rss

Apr 10, 2009

Google Summer of Code Slots

This year Scribus got 8 applications for the GSoC. Today Leslie Hawthorn from Google released the preliminary slot allocation numbers. Looks like Scribus will get three students funded by Google.

It's now time to rate the applications. This doesn't mean that all other applications will be wasted. We will most likely have some extra resources to fund three more students to finish their ideas. Some of the funding will come from the Scribus book sales (still waiting for my book, doh).

I have agreed to mentor an odt import plugin project. I've done the odt text import plugin in Scribus and thus feel comfortable enough to mentor Anoop in his project. Should be an exiting spring and summer ahead. Not even mentioning autumn when we will get the t-shirts from Google.

A few other interesting projects and their slots:

  • OpenICC 3
  • Inkscape 6
  • Gimp 5

Apr 5, 2009

Two branches of Scribus

It has been a while since my last post but finally I got an idea about an article to help people who are thinking about starting a layout job in Scribus. I will hopefully make it a bit easier to select the right version to download.

Stable Branch
There are two branches of Scribus. Version number 1.3.3.x is called the stable branch and is recommend for anybody with tight deadlines. Stable in Scribus world means that the version is tested and used enough for Scribus team to release it with adjective stable. No new features come into the stable branch only bugs will be fixed.

The most recent stable version released is 1.3.3.12. With the stable branch it is pretty safe to choose the version currently under development (1.3.3.13svn) since there will be only bug fixes in there. If you feel the version numbering is a bit odd just think about it as a lame joke. Without this numbering scheme it would have not been possible to release a version with a number 1.3.3.7.

Development Branch
The most fun in software development is implementation of new features. All new features in Scribus will first land into the development branch. The current development branch is the version 1.3.5svn. Svn in the version number indicates that it has not been released yet but is still under active development.

The last released development branch version is 1.3.4 which is totally outdated already. This is why you should prefer the svn version of 1.3.5. With the development branch things usually are a bit more unstable than one would expect but that is acceptable since the development branch is not meant to be used for production work. The idea behind development branch releases is to get the new features tested and fine tuned before turning the development branch into a new stable branch.

It is not guaranteed that a development branch will turn into a stable branch after a release. Currently the next development branch release will be 1.3.5 but it is still possible that the version after it, 1.3.6, will also be a development release where some more new features will come into play and 1.3.5 features will be optimized.

What's there more in the development branch?

  • Character Styles
  • Better Shaped Paragraphs*
  • Some other nice features
  • QT4
  • Crashes (probably)
  • A wish that people will use the latest version from svn trunk and report about their problems after checking the bug tracker at http://bugs.scribus.net

* Scribus can finally create nicely shaped paragraphs without huge white paths. With the current stable version shaping the paragraph perfectly needed a lot of manual tweaking. With the 1.3.5svn there are optical margins, glyph extensions and word tracking there to help achieving the perfect shape more easily.

The left paragraph in the picture below has been created with the settings from the stable branch. On the right automatic help has been turned on with the 1.3.5svn version.


Optical margins help aligning the right and left sides of a paragraph into a perfect line hanging the small glyphs at the end of the lines (on the left).

So which one should I choose?

With a work to do you should probably go with the stable branch. With the development branch you may hit issues that may delay the work seriously. If however you do not care about deadlines or are free of them 1.3.5svn will be a great way to participate in Scribus development. More eyes we get for the bug hunting better product we will get and if you are a developer remember to submit patches with your bug reports.

Mar 7, 2009

Thank a Dev Day

Send email to the developer(s) of your favorite Free Software applications on March 27th and tell them how you use the software and how much you appreciate the hard work they do.

Read More…


In Scribus devs with their addresses can be found at:

Help→About Scribus→Authors

Feb 28, 2009

Preparing a document for printer: CMYK PDF

In the Preparing a document for printer series I will cover the most asked questions regarding Scribus generated pdf files and printers. However these are only generic instructions and one should always discuss about the job in question with the printer.

The most important thing to understand is that everything you see on screen is defined in rgb color space and most often printer works in a different color space called cmyk. This means there must be a conversion done from rgb to cmyk to get things look ok when printed.

For a succesful conversion one needs to find out the cmyk icc profile to use. This can only be done after the print house has been chosen because not all printers are set up to use the same icc profile. You will find the cmyk profile (aka target/printer profile) from your printer's documentation or by asking them.

Next thing to do is to make the icc profile appear in Scribus. You can use the standard location of color profiles on your platform or can set up your own custom directory in Scribus' preferences. Copy the icc profile in one of these locations and restart Scribus.

Open your document to be sent to the printer and go to File→Document Setup→Color management. It's important to know that in Scribus Document Setup is for currently open document and Preferences only affect all future documents.

In Color Management page enable CM and set up profiles. If you use Gimp for your images it will be safe to choose srgb for images. Adobe Photoshop embeds a profile into the image and Scribus will use the embedded profile over the one set in Document Setup/Preferences. As the printer profile select the cmyk icc profile provided by your printer. Once done with the CM settings click ok to close the window.

Last thing to do is to export your work to a pdf. Open up the pdf export window from File→Export→Save As PDF... To make a cmyk pdf you will need to select Printer target on the color page. Do not check any of those check boxes on the color page. Other important things to do at the export phase is to embed all fonts and choose the right pdf version. For most cases pdf version 1.3 is the one to use.

Last thing to do to make sure colors will come out ok is to include a color proof in the contract done with the printer. This means that printer will send you a proof to be approved before starting the actual print job.

If the work is going to be printed with a home printer rgb pdf will most likely provide the best quality. For rgb pdf it will be enough to select Screen/Web as your target in the pdf export window.

Feb 23, 2009

Cannot embed a font into a pdf document

Recently I was asked what to do if a font cannot be embedded into a pdf file with Scribus. Instead of embedding Scribus was forcing all texts using the font to vectors. This meant that all hinting information was lost too and pdf looked bad on screen ('l' glyphs became bold, see image at the top right corner). It's good to know that a print job won't be affected by this.

First it'll be good to check the font type in question. Opentype embedding is only available in recent version of pdf standard which Scribus doesn't yet support. Printers also often request pdf version 1.3 where there is no embedding available for Opentype fonts. If the font is Opentype font changing it to Type1 or Truetype font may solve the issue.

If the problem was not with the font type then one should close all the documents open in Scribus and open up preferences. On the fonts page there is a list of all fonts Scribus found. One column on the list is reserved for subsetting which in Scribus case really means outlining. Make sure that the font with the problem does not have check mark on the subset column. If it is checked remove the check mark and retry pdf export. Remember to reclick on the Embed all fonts button in the pdf export window.

If embedding still doesn't work there's not much to do but find a new font for the texts using the problematic font.

PS. Feeds are working again.