Scribus is an Open Source program that brings professional page layout to Linux, BSD UNIX, Solaris, OpenIndiana, GNU/Hurd, Mac OS X, OS/2 Warp 4, eComStation, and Windows desktops with a combination of press-ready output and new approaches to page design.
Underneath a modern and user-friendly interface, Scribus supports professional publishing features, such as color separations, CMYK and spot colors, ICC color management, and versatile PDF creation.
This is a dissapointing program as it offers all that any desktop publisher would seem to need but then completely dissapoints by disinformation, lack of essential basic features and a website "how-to" that is out of date referring to features that no longer exist in the current version ! I am like tens of thousands of users of Adobe PageMaker who have seen their favourite program sabotaged by the failure of Adobe to update their product for the current version of Windows; instead choosing to force users to buy "InDesign" a bloated expensive program that does not work, has never worked and probably will never work. What is the dedicated PageMaker pro to do then ??? Wait here is salvation - a knight is shining armour, up to date, working with all current OSs with all the features of the best high end DTP programs AND it's Open Source FREE !! What more could you want ? Unfortunately what you get for free doesn't have any support or even basic guides. YES there IS an online guide but it doesn't apply to the current version and constantly refers to "tabs" and "drop down pallets" that no longer exit - very exasperating. I installed this program then AFTER the install the "installation window" popped up (!!!) saying that BEFORE the install another program had to be installed (why isn't it incorporated with the installation procedure then ?) Ghostscript (a PostScript interpreter) but there is no link to that program. No worries - I found it then redid the installation WITH the GhostScript installed. The first time the program starts up it takes about 30 mins before it starts as it is compiling a font cache from the installed fonts. After that no menu item is accessible. You have to exit the program then restart it. After this you are completely on your own to 'trial and error' it into shape. I wanted to have a rectangle filled with a colour (black) - a VERY simple and basic procedure - but there is no way to do this. The help application does not contain any information that is relevant and is basically a reiteration of the programmers description of the program. An online search via Google reveals information only on the Scribus website which, yet again, only repeats the above descriptive information without giving any specific answer. I am sure that this program is capable of doing great things but it is intent on "shooting itself in the foot" so that it is virtually impossible for the first time user to use. Work on updates and improvements to the program should be halted IMMEDIATELY and instead a searchable help index with SPECIFIC IDENTIFIABLE STEP-BY-STEP information added FOR THE CURRENT VERSION OF THE PROGRAM. Then it will start to be useable.
On the positive side, this wonderful project has huge potentials. Excellent results can be achieved by using this software. The results are easily comparable to commercially-available alternatives. On the negative side, I think the project is underpowered and needs more developers. The user-interface needs rethinking. Many of the great options and features cannot easily be used or are arranged in very confusing ways. It is not lack of features, but the way they are presented that is a big issue: disorganized, scattered, unmanageable, and confusing at times. Unfortunately, there is no easy fix for it either. I always wanted to switch to an open-source alternative (from the most-commonly-used desktop publishing software application). I've never been able to do that with Scribus. One reason is that most of your skills on other software are not easily transferable to Scribus. The learning curve for Scribus, even if you have come from another desktop publishing application, is pretty steep and long; and unreasonably so. The panels need serious re-engineering to become useful. They cannot be ducked (as of version 1.4.4) which adds to the usability issue. They're not foldable either, i.e you either have them opened, or closed. This makes using the panels extremely awkward and inefficient. The panels’ usability and the issues surrounding them is the single, most important usability issue with Scribus. The visual elements of the design of the software is stuck somewhere in 1990s and uses the mentality and design paradigms of that era. So it has a lot of room for improvement in this regards. The available themes do not help you fix the dated look of the design at all (they actually make it worse). Aside from the user interface and usability issues, the setting and preferences are reasonable. You can calibrate the units for measuring sizes based on the resolution of your monitor and it works great. Autosave, colour management, preflight verifications, and PDF export settings are available and different PDF standards are being added gradually. Scribus also allows you to use Python scripts (although I never tried it) and it uses a pluggable architecture (so there are a few plug-ins available for it). The plug-ins extend the features of Scribus. I certainly recommend this software to anyone who wants to have a reasonable alternative to the expensive commercial desktop publishing software applications. Once you passed the initial and painfully slow learning stage, you can be sure that you can create great results in this application, ready for publication at the highest level of quality and standard.