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The Scribus Community Newsletter, October 2015

This is the first issue of the community driven monthly newsletter about Scribus and its development.

This months focus is on the new icon set in Scribus 1.5svn and the recent additions that edit Scribus files and produce PDFs from the command line.

A new icon set

A few months ago, the development version of Scribus has received a new icon set.

screenshot of the new icons

This new icon set has been created by Dezso Markon, a new contributor, and while not yet 100% complete, it covers already more than 80% of the existing icons. While the very low chromatic design needs some time to get used to, it's for sure very refreshing to finally see a coherent visual appearance.

While he was integrating the new icon set Craig Bradney, a long time Scribus developer, took the time to improve the themeability of Scribus: the user can now choose among multiple icon sets. This does not only mean more customization choices for Scribus users, furthermore it makes easier for graphic designers to propose new icon sets for Scribus!

Want to test drive the new icons?

  1. Get a version of Scribus that has been built after July 2015:
  2. Go to the "File > Preferences"
  3. Under "General > Appearance" choose the theme "Scribus 1.5.1"
  4. Restart Scribus

Warning: in older versions of this newsletter, we wrongly stated that the new icons set is in Scribus 1.5.0.

Dezso Markon: the designer behind the new icons set

Dezso Markon, the new 1.5.1 icon set designer agreed to a short interview:

Please present yourself to the Scribus Community...

My name is Dezso Markon, I am a designer, I live in Romania, Transylvania, and I am a Hungarian by nationality. I've been using Linux for the last 20 years and I'm currently on Arch with Xfce.

What motivated you to contribute to a Free Libre Open Source Software project?

In 2006, when we founded our company (http://www.vitaking.ro/), it was my job to produce our first product catalog listing the vitamin products we're selling. I started the work on Linux, but after a couple of days I realized that the current applications on Linux aren't ready yet for desktop publishing. So, our first catalog was designed on windows. But I was bothered by this failure which drove me to constantly search for solutions to the problem of "How to make a successful workflow on Linux?"

Our second and third catalog was already designed with Scribus, but the preparations of the pictures and vector illustrations still needed the Adobe package.

Finally, in 2013, after a lot of trial and error I had a complete workflow on Linux for Desktop Publishing. The photos were replaced with 3D pictures made with Blender; for post-production we used Krita; the vector illustrations were made with Inkscape, and the catalog was put together in Scribus. I was using the 1.5.0 SVN version for this, as the stable release had some problems with the PDF export. Despite the 1.5.0 SVN 'unstable' label, it was extremely stable. We have never experienced crashes or other problems and we use it on a daily basis.

The reason I have decided to contribute to Scribus was simply that I wanted to give something back to the community which made it possible to have a Desktop Publishing workflow on Linux. Scribus has a great potential, it's a powerful page layout software, but somehow the user interface doesn't give you much confidence in this. Every time I have presented to somebody in the DTP industry, the first impression was "What is this thing? Doesn't look like something I would use for my projects." The reason for this was simply the fact that when you start an application for the first time your first impression will be based on the user interface because that is the first thing you will see. And if the UI doesn't look professional, you need strong incentives to get you to start using the software like: being a Linux or Scribus fan, or having somebody who shows you the potential of the software.

So I decided that I will try to improve the user interface a little, and started working with a new icon set. In the beginning we had used it only in-house, but after I have posted some screenshots in a forum I was contacted almost immediately for permission to use this icon set in the 1.5.1 branch. I agreed and released this icon set as GPL v2 which shortly afterwards was pulled in the Scribus trunk.

What are your ideas/inspirations behind the new theme?

I didn't have a clear inspiration for this icon set. I wanted something simple and unobtrusive as possible. In my opinion the current icon set tries to show everything, and some of the icons have become too complicated. Sometime it is simply not possible to show everything in a 16x16 pixel area. You will have a crowded picture even if you recognize the icon, it's still hard to remember its function because there is to much information on the icon. So I decided to simplify the icons, and I wanted something which doesn't get in way and can be recognized and remembered easy.

How people can further contribute?

Currently I haven't had any feedback about using these icons from anyone. So it would be not only nice but very useful to have some constructive feedback about this. Furthermore, there is always room for improvement, so I'll gladly include any useful idea in my work.

Where would you like to see the Scribus UI headed and how do you propose getting there?

I would like see the user interface highly customizable and professional, something which reflects and communicates the potential of this software. I plan to further involve myself in this area and am currently learning GIT and SVN in order to be able to work directly and efficiently with the repositories.

Scribus from the command line

For a long time (the first traces can be found in the bug tracker in early 2004), people have been asking for Scribus to run from the command line (CLI). They were seeking a way to automate the work with processing forms, manage generated documents, and produce PDF files that were ready to be sent to the printers.

Over the years, many approaches have been tried, many patches have been written, but none made it into the main Scribus code.

Last year, thanks to Juraj Fedel and William Bader, a set of patches (most importantly the one about adding a --python-script command) were submitted providing the functionality to launch a Python script when Scribus is started and then quit. The patches were accepted and have been integrated into Scribus!

So what does this mean? For example, now it's possible to write scripts that generate PDF from the command line:

import scribus
scribus.openDoc('the-document.sla')
pdf = scribus.PDFfile()
pdf.file = 'the-pdf.pdf'
pdf.save()

and run:

$ scribus --python-script to-pdf.py

to get a PDF file that you can send to the printer.

A few more patches were proposed and accepted, mostly for removing dialog boxes when Scribus is run without a GUI.

A further step has been done by @Berteh. During the last few months he has been working on a patch that allows to pass parameters to the python script. You can now enhance the script above to accept the "text" argument, use it to replace the content of a specific form and produce a customized PDF:

$ scribus --python-script to-pdf.py --python-arg text "Welcome to Scribus" the-document.sla

Of course, when you need several parameters, it's likely that you will dynamically create a JSON/CSV file, pass its path as the parameter and let the Python script process the whole data and fill multiple fields in the Scribus document.

We now are able to say that Scribus can be used to batch process files. But, it's still a long way before it becomes a tool that shines as a server tool! Currently, if it's invoked from the CLI it still starts the GUI (you will only see a glimpse), not all messages boxes have been silenced, and some very useful commands are missing in the Scripter API.

If you want to learn more about this new feature, there is already an introduction with many more details in the wiki:
http://wiki.scribus.net/canvas/Command_line_scripts

Testimonials

https://twitter.com/pinstripeowl/status/643853781512384512

https://twitter.com/garrett/status/643733124799590401

https://twitter.com/ArcoMul/status/633352668023529472

https://plus.google.com/b/109612024486187515483/109612024486187515483/posts/ESXgERV2A2H

Requests for participation

Looking for a Web designer for the Scribus Community Asknot

Last year we have started a fork of http://www.whatcanidoformozilla.org, a PR website where volunteers can learn how to contribute to our project.

The current status is on Github:
https://github.com/scribusproject/asknot

We are now looking for help. We are specifically looking for:

  • a web designer who can helps us skinning it for Scribus;
  • translators;
  • anyone who wants to further help.

Kicking off (again) the new scripter

A new scripter has been in the works for a long time. Currently we're stuck at porting the new engine from Qt 4 to Qt 5 and more exactly at the point where we have to connect real signal and slots across the boundaries between C++ and python by using PyQt5.

The current code for the new scripter is on Github:
https://github.com/aoloe/scribus-plugin-scripter

Your help is welcome! If you think you can contribute, please make us a sign through the issue tracker in the repository above.

About this newsletter

This is a Scribus newsletter published by contributors from the Scribus community. Our goal is to produce one issue per month presenting different aspects of the life in the Scribus community.

The October issue has been written by Ale and Kunda.

You can contribute through our Github repository https://github.com/aoloe/scribus-newsletter or by getting in touch with us in any way you see fit (forum, IRC, mailing list, twitter, email, ...)

Currently we are looking for more redactors, translators, and a graphic designer who proposes a nice HTML style for this newsletter.
We would also like to see designers create a PDF version of each issue.

You can also ask us to cover specific topics, by commenting on the ticket for the next issue.

This newsletter is published under a Creative Commons license:
CC-BY-SA, the Scribus Community Newsletter (http://impagina.org/newsletter)