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My desktop publishing commentary

I’m not good with graphics. At all. I mostly hate it, either analog or digital. In school I wasn’t able to draw a straight line even with the ruler, and when we had lab, I used AutoCAD (LT) through CLI rather than mouse interface – which my teacher hated, to the point of detaching the keyboard from my computer once.

From time to time, I need some graphic job done, most of the time I try to contact one of my friends who is a graphic. Sometimes I just need to put down some things for a diagram, so I tend to use inkscape to do the job.

Two days ago a friend of mine asked me for an easy to fill in form, for his business.. of course the easy solution is to make it a PDF form and let him print it after filling it in. So I ended up looking for a way to do so, and seems like Scribus does that.

I installed Scribus with the default USE flags I get on my system, which means USE=-cairo. It comes up with a tremendously corrupted page view, with vertical lines all over it. Easy to guess, the cairo USE flag is needed.

Even after the rebuild with cairo enabled, though, using Scribus looks quite clumsy to me. I know I’m no expert on the field, but I can usually get my hands around similar software, after all I was able to use FreeHand back in ‘98…

Probably the stuff I missed is there, just in a different place, but I couldn’t find how to enable snap to grid (having a grid and not snapping to it seems quite pointless to me, although I’m sure that people who love graphic work could probably like it better this way), or how to align multiple objects together.

At the end I decided to do the design with Inkscape, which I grew used to use by now. The only problem I found with Inkscape was the inability to use the font chooser on the toolbar, but at least I just had to get out the font selection dialog (which is permanent!), and the problem was solved.

I start to wonder if I could find an SVG rendering libraries for .NET, in which case I could probably just present a C# software to my friend and get it to use the SVG crated by Inkscape without passing through PDF – no I’m not going to try a cross-platform software for him just yet, and I’m not going to bother with C++, otherwise I know I could use Qt4. But at the very worse, I will use Scribus just to add the PDF form fields, and then export it.

I sincerely start to miss things like Migrografx Windows Draw (there’s no Wikipedia article about it… which feels strange to me as I didn’t think it wasn’t that well known at its time), and software of the like. LaTeX totally replaced OpenOffice Writer for me (I dislike it a lot), but trying to get a form created with it is a biiiit of a problem, I think…

Oh well…

Comments 3
  1. I hate OOWriter and Word (basically all WYSIWYG word processors) with a passion, too. I write either plaintext files or latex, so you’re not alone.And I’m completely unable to create something pretty, too 😉

  2. Scribus is desktop publishing, and FreeHand is vector graphics. A real comparison would be Adobe PageMaker, Adobe InDesign, or Quark XPress. If you want to do vector graphics, you came to the right conclusion that you should use an app designed for this purpose like Inkscape.

  3. The FreeHand example was to say one hell of a complex UI.What I had to do was just preparing a form, which is something that I’d suppose falls into desktop publishing. So I am baffled by the fact I had to use an app designed for another purpose (Inkscape) rather than one that should do just that (Scribus)…

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