Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Scribus vs Inkscape

My sister in law is having an exhibit next week. To help her out I did the paper invitations during the weekend. This was the first time I needed to do something like this in Ubuntu, so I did a test drive on two applications.

Due to an article on Full Circle Magazine I decided to give Scribus a go. I already new Inkspace by name so I also gave it a try.

The short of it: Use Inkscape. If you want to know why, here's the details.

Scribus annoyed me a bit. The first bad experience was with the "new document" menu. It doesn't save your settings! I was doing a few experiments so I had to start new documents quite often... and typing all the settings all the time is a drag (I had to change 4 values for the margins and 1 value for the units).

The next thing I disliked was the line tool. When you draw a line it stays red (because it is selected) and wider than the line you actually draw. Pretty bad for WYSIWYG. Also, moving the thing around had some odd behaviors....

The next problem was undo. Not sure what it actually did... Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't... sometimes it did odd things. Like after moving the line, undoing deleted the line. Pretty bad.

The final annoyance was with the snap to guides. I set the option but it did nothing... it just kept not snapping. I gave up at this stage.

No questions asked when the software starts, the document is already there and it actually has the settings I wanted to use. Not bad.

Drawing lines was also as I expected, and after a web search on how to snap to the guides, it worked OK. And undo did what I expected.

After I did a bit of work on the actual invitation, I decided to move the files around to organize my folders. Turns out Inkspace stores the pictures as references, so I lost all the pictures I had in the drawing (about 9 pictures). Restoring the references seemed like a drag, but since the save format is SVG I was able to use a text editor and perform a simple find and replace! Not bad.

Then I wanted to add a new page. I wasn't able to find out how to do it! Fortunately there is the concept of layers, so I just used one layer for each page. I could have used another document, but since the invitation isn't that complex this solution was good enough.

Time to print! This was another surprise. You actually need to know the lp command details and how CUPS works to do some basic printing tasks (like printing more than one copy in normal mode). So much for a grandma friendly application. But at the end of the day I managed to print everything without a problem and the invitations were sent on time.

Here's the final result:

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