Scribus can import ASCII text files as well as clipboard text. This is enhanced by the ability to specify the encoding of text. Thus, you can place Unicode text, as well as text created in Cyrillic and Latin encodings. You also can switch the direction of text to right-to-left scripts like Arabic and Hebrew. Expect to see additional import filters added in the next versions.
Special font handling features allow you to rotate, flip and scale text. Scribus automatically can hyphenate text in many languages and can allow you to adjust kerning or spacing between letters in a font. If you add AFMs (ASCII font metrics) files for a given font, Scribus uses this to adjust the spacing between letters automatically. Scribus also supports Type 1 and TrueType fonts equally.
Scribus can import many common image formats, such as PNGs, TIFFs and JPEGs. All images can be scaled within Scribus, rotated, flipped and layered. If an image file has an ICC color profile embedded, Scribus reads the tags and uses them in the littlecms color management. You easily can import EPS files, as well as the first page of a PDF. To make it easier for you to place EPSes and PDFs, Scribus automatically generates a low-resolution preview. EPS files do not have previews natively.
Scribus has one of the best PDF export engines on the planet—a bold claim, but in my opinion, second only to the latest version of Adobe's InDesign. The PDF exporter is not only easy to use, but generates high-quality PDFs, as long as you use properly prepared images and choose good quality fonts. Part of the genius in the PDF exporter is the way it masks confusing options but does not constrain the power of the user or the use of advanced features, like PDF/X-3. In testing, I used the same images and fonts to create large high-resolution, four-color CMYK PDF from both Scribus and other high-end DTP applications. The differences were indiscernible. Colors, fonts and text rendered exactly the same, and the images were rendered with the same fidelity throughout. It also fully supports PDF 1.4 features, such as 128-bit encryption and transparency in the PDF. Scribus can export high-quality EPS and raw PostScript files if needed as well.
Scribus documents and preference files are XML-based, completely open and documented. This makes adding features much simpler, and their text-based nature makes them robust. DTP file formats internally are some of the most complex in the PC world. File corruption frequently can be a problem, and DTP files can be unstable on less-than-perfect networks as well. I have found the XML format in Scribus to be almost crash-proof. Even with bleeding-edge CVS versions of Scribus, I rarely have lost a file, and even broken ones can be fixed with a text editor. PageMaker and Quark users have long been used to frequent saves and some novel tricks to repair damaged documents.
The design decision early in the launching of the Scribus Project to concentrate on the PDF format was prescient. After many years of false starts, the commercial print world is adopting PDF as the preferred method of file exchange. [Linux Journal sends pages to the printer as PDFs—Ed.] It is not uncommon for publications to require PDF files from advertisers. Thus, some magazines are composed entirely of PDFs, with the complete publication re-exported as a PDF. Why? PDF eliminates a host of application and cross-platform incompatibilities, especially with fonts. In addition, mature preflighting tools now exist for verifying PDFs as being press-ready. The emergence of the PDF/X ISO standards also has pushed PDF adoption.
That said, Scribus was not designed to be a “Quark-killer”. Scribus is meant to give Linux and UNIX users comparable tools, which have been, until now, the province of expensive proprietary applications, available only on Mac and Windows operating systems. DTP users and shops can be rather conservative about upgrades and changing applications. Reliability is critical—a missed print run can cost thousands of dollars. Plus, these applications take months, sometimes years to master. Productivity can suffer in the switch-over, even amongst newer versions of the same application.
The support for PDF/X-3 in Scribus is another way to make Scribus files accepted in the print world. The newest raster image processors (RIPs) can support PDF/X-3, preserving the original RGB (red, green and blue) images and ICC profiles until the last moment when the files are converted to printing plates.
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