on 27 December 2010
There are really two manuals currently available for Scribus, not counting Scribus Kompakt that is available only in German. The first was Scribus, the Official Manual by Gregory Pittman, Christoph Schäfer, et al. (ISBN 978-0-9560780-0-1). At around £29 it is a bit expensive, although profits go to further the development of Scribus, so when I bought it six months ago I didn't mind paying the price. The book here by Cédric Gémy is the second, published in December, 2010. I have been through both manuals thoroughly. Both are worth having if you're serious about desktop publishing with Scribus, although each serves a somewhat different function and approaches the subject differently.
Gémy's book is less expensive, especially if you buy the e-book format (downloadable in EPUB and PDF formats, available only at the publisher's website for around £14.50). Lest you think that you should buy the Pittman and Schäfer book so as to contribute to the Scribus project, Cédric Gémy is a frequent contributor to Scribus and has spent a lot of time helping with its development. I don't have any problem if his bank account increases a bit for his efforts.
Gémy teaches you how to use Scribus in a more or less tutorial fashion, where each chapter progresses in difficulty. In that respect it is less of a reference book than the Pittman and Schäfer manual. In fact, Gémy's book doesn't even have an index. On the other hand, if you are a beginner, a tutorial is exactly what you need. And Gémy does an excellent job of taking you by the hand, showing you how to do something step by step. He even includes quizzes at the end of each chapter. You can literally start at the beginning of the book and have Scribus pretty well mastered by the time you get to the end. "Beginner's Guide" is an apt title for Gémy's book.
Another advantage of Gémy's book is that it targets 1.3.5, where the Pittman and Schäfer book is written for 22.214.171.124. If you're not familiar with Scribus version numbers, 126.96.36.199 is the official stable version as of this writing (December, 2010), and the development version when Gémy's book was written was 1.3.5. The development version is currently at 1.3.9 and will become the new stable version at 1.4.0, due out in early 2011. Therefore, Gémy's book covers the new features you will find in the version you are probably going to use.
There are also advantages to the Pittman and Schäfer manual. For one thing, not being written in tutorial fashion it's easier to look up how to use a specific feature. More importantly, Pittman and Schäfer include a lot of things about desktop publishing that are not specific to Scribus. For example, do you know the difference between a spot color and process color, or the advantages and disadvantages of TIFF files over PSD files? Pittman and Schäfer not only tell you about a Scribus feature, but why it was included.
I never attended a brick and mortar school to learn about desktop publishing, but for the past 15 years I have been a charter student at the school of expensive mistakes. I started with PageMaker 4.0 and QuarkXPress 3.1 and have been using layout applications to produce student textbooks ever since. But even though Gémy's book is aimed at beginners, I found several helpful hints in it.
Today my favorite layout application is Scribus, not that its commercial competitors don't have a few more features (they do), but being in the open source world my documents are not hostage to forced expensive updates. If you have a substantial knowledge of desktop publishing, buy Gémy's book to get a quick introduction to Scribus. If you know nothing about desktop publishing, buy both.
on 22 February 2011
Imagine, a program that specialises to just doing layout?! At first this might seem overkill; too much of an [unnecessary?] niche perhaps. Yet the book persuasively shows that there is a need for, at least, free software that focuses on layout and does it well.
Gemy forthrightly points out at the start of the book what the functional perimeter of Scribus is. Specifically, you should use a dedicated word processor like Microsoft Office/Word, or OpenOffice Writer, to actually write and spell check any text that you want to put into a PDF document that will have multiple pages and graphics on those pages. Scribus does not attempt to impinge on this text ability. Also, if you need to have photos in those graphics, and you need to do touching up or other enhancements, then use Photoshop or some other equivalent package. And if you need to draw an image, consider using Adobe Illustrator or something similar. It is the integration of drawn images, photos and text into a cohesive layout that is Scribus' remit.
That being said, Scribus can certainly handle many low level useful manipulations that are also handled by those other packages. For example, kerning, which is the altering of white space between letters, can be manipulated explicitly under Scribus. This is useful for the hopefully rare occasions when you need to optimise the appearance of some text under display. Likewise, Scribus can access all the fonts defined under the operating system. Attention has been paid to transparent font management, which eases the explicit burden on you.
The questions ['pop quiz'] at the end of most chapters is a little different from the typical Packt book. It is as though Gemy is trying to imitate an actual 'teaching' text that is used to accompany some college computing class. Not a bad idea. But the questions seem too short and simple. They don't really challenge the reader much, except in the most cursory sense. Better perhaps might have been to have more questions and a gradation of difficulty, to give a serious reader something solid to tackle.
on 15 February 2014
I don't want to criticize the author for not having English as his first language, but the publisher should definitely have made sure that the editor(s) did. Some of the English is so poor in this book as to be completely impenetrable.
The book also fails to stick to the subject. Vector graphics editing, for example, may be interesting (to some people), but it needs a book or article on its own and should have no place in a book on a completely different piece of software.
on 29 January 2011
I am currently working my way through this book. This is a very good explanation of the workings of Scribus, which is a very good open-source, multi-platform desktop publishing program. This is the type of program open-source is all about. It's effective at it's task, well supported by the community, and is free. The fact that it runs on Linux was my first selling point, and being able to use it on Windows and Mac certainly will attract a larger audience.
This book is a thorough primer on the workings of the program, and is required if you want to quickly pick up the usage, which is very different from word processors or the like. The author leads you through many informative examples of how to create a very professional document. There are many illustrations which are helpful, and an extensive table of contents. I think another review stated the contrary, but both the printed and electronic (PDF) versions I received do have a nine page index.
The main sections of the book can be summarized as: getting started, first layout, master pages, using text, formatting text, complex content, advanced frames and shapes, importing images, color management, printing and customizing the creation process. Each is important and is covered in detail, so after going through the book you will be able, if you have any creative energy, to create a very nice looking flyer, brochure, handout, booklet or multi-page document which is press ready in PDF format. I have had a couple of printed documents come out very well when exported to pdf and taken to a local print shop (fed-ex). Of course, projects can be printed locally, but it seems the results are better when exported to pdf, then printed using Adobe or some such pdf viewer.
Overall, as one who is new to Scribus, I have found this book virtually indispensable, both as a primer and a reference. Many advanced DTP features which are covered are over my head, but seem well covered.
It should be pointed out that since it applies to version 1.3.5, it is applicable to the newest released versions of Scribus, currently 1.4. There have been recent changes since 1.3.3 which are covered in this book.
I do heartily recommend this book to beginning Scribus users. It helps make Scribus much more friendly. My one caveat is the translation, which, although very readable and usable, is sometimes awkward. A second edition might want to take time to correct some of the more obvious stumbles, but don't let this deter you.
on 9 August 2011
Through a lot of tutorial the basics of Scribus is explained. On top of that more advanced features are mentioned when necessary.
Unfortunately the book is very poorly translated, which is confusing, annoying and at times quite amusing.
The concept with tutorials and further explanations (in a "What just happened?" section) is good, but many times it does'nt make sense. Thus the "What just happened?" section merely repeats what's all ready been said in the tutorial.This content management seems to be more important for the author, than actually explaining Scribus the most efficient way.
That said, I've learned a lot from reading the book, but for future editions: Sharpen the english and find a concept for the tutorials that makes sense throughout the book.