It has been a day and a half for making the latest version of my design and architecture portfolio, with which I am exclusively using Scribus, the open source alternative of Adobe InDesign. And it is so far so good. There are much less aspects that I need to get used to than what I initially thought. The most important differences are:

  • No drag and drop for images directly into your file. First you have to draw a frame, and then either double click on it, and right click and select “get image”.
  • Scripting. Directly related to the lack of drag and drop,there is a script that automatically arranges the images onto an A4, after which they are much easier to manipulate. The save the script by copying and pasting from this website as someName.py somewhere on your hard drive. And then go into scribus, under the script menu, choose “execute script”, and select the script you want to use. Then just, copy and paste the directory name into the net window.
  • Alignment. No smart guides (that I know of at the moment), to align easily, but the alignment and distribution tool is much more intuitive than the InDesgn one.
  • Images and PDF previews. The quality of previewing what’s contained in the image frames within the document is much better than the default one in InDesign. I know it is possible to change this behaviour in InDesign, but with my experience, it has slowed the program down to a crawl.
  • Master Pages. Have not had a chance to see how well a specific image layout works, but in terms of numbering the pages, it works the same way as InDesign. One difference is that in Scribus, there are separate master pages between left and right hand pages.

Update (10 May, 2013)

The align and distribute feature is quite powerful. It is the main tool that i am using. I also set the speific width and height of each image frame i work with.

I am continuing to work with scripts to ease up the workflow, but I have not been able to find good resource on Scribus scripting API reference. But I did find out that within the Scribus scripting console (Script -> Show Console), it is possible to type “help(command)”, e.g. “help(newDocument)” where all arguments are listed.

Listing all possible commands. Again, due to the lack of documentation within scribus, here is the way to see all commands by typing the following into the Scribus script console:

dir(scribus)

or conveniently listing them as opposed on one line

for i in dir(scribus):
print(i)

then you can pick any command and do

help(command)

 

Update 2 (11 May, 2013): Fiddling between Scribus 1.5SVN and 1.4.2

I tried to do some work in the more aesthetically pleasing Scribus 1.5 SVN, and it worked well, until I tried to open the 40-some page porftolio that I have been working on. At the moment, it is so sluggish at selecting images and moving around in 1.5, that it was impossible.  However, in a separate document, I worked  a bit in 1.5, and I needed to get it back in 1.4.2. So, I opened the scribus file in my text editor, and just changed the second line to from “1.5.0” to “1.4.2”, after which it was possible to open it. Although the frames are there in the outliner, they were not showing up, so I selected them all and copied and pasted them into a new document and now they are accessible