Open Source Graphic Design

I have been experimenting with Open Source Graphic Design alternatives to Adobe software.

The Setup

I am using the following Open Source Graphic Design tools on a Linux laptop:

Asus laptop.

Replaced Windows7 with Ubuntu 16.04 LTS

Intel® Pentium(R) CPU B970 @ 2.30GHz × 2

Scribus Version 1.4.6

GIMP 2.8.16

For comparison, I timed the app launch time on my late 2012 MacBookPro, running El Capitan.

Adobe InDesign CC: 6min 16sec

Adobe Photoshop CC: 1min 10sec

Scribus (Version 1.5.1): 1min 16sec

GIMP: 1min 11sec

Launch time on Ubuntu (Open Source only):

Scribus: 4.3sec

GIMP: 2.7sec

Opening an InDesign document in Scribus

I READ A FEW BLOGS on this and tried one suggestion: create an .EPS from InDesign and open it as an editable file in Scribus. That did not work.

Another suggestion was to create an .IDML (an InDesign file that can be read by a previous version) document from InDesign and open that in Scribus. That worked much better. Here’s what I did and the result:

Business Card File:

This worked fairly well. The only issue I had was that the tracking (space between letters) was a bit off and the upside-down “J” I used to create the lower-case “f” in “Jeff” got flipped over. Otherwise, the styles and colors were all intact.

Paginated Book File:

The book conversion didn’t go as well. The main body of the text was OK, but the TOC, some drop caps and footers got messed up. Still, it is an editable document. One thing was, though, is that my blockquotes defaulted to Arial. It seems that in some cases there was a character style on top of the paragraph style that carried over from the original Word file. A simple fix, however.

This was interesting. I placed the cursor in the text and hit Command-A to select the entire text string. It highlighted one page. However, that wasn’t really true.

When I deleted the highlighted text, it seems that the entire text string really was highlighted, as the whole thing got deleted. Then something even more interesting happened…

I hit Command-Z to undo the delete. The text came back, but the formatting was now messed up.

Edit Scribus File in Text Editor

If you open a Scribus file in a text editor and open an InDesign file in a text editor, you will see that Scribus is very readable whereas, InDesign is not. You can make changes in both and save the file, but the results are quite different. Editing an InDesign file in a text editor (TextEdit on a Mac) renders the file useless.

Editing a Scribus file produces better results. I edited a Scribus document on a Mac using TextEdit. This rendered the file useless, just like InDesign. But, then I tried it on my Linux Ubuntu machine, using Gedit, which I launched from the Command Line and, voilà, the file opens and the changes I made in Gedit were retained. How can this be useful? Say you are a printer and you receive a Scribus file. The client calls and says there is a small typo. Instead of getting a new file, open the Scribus file in Gedit and you should be good to go.

I converted an InDesign doc to an .IDML so that I could plop in some PDFs. It seems Scribus is not as easy for this function like InDesign. However, after it failed, I simply converted my PDF imports to JPGs and imported them into Scribus. That worked great. I exported my document as a PDF but noticed that the files size was rather large. I’ll have to investigate that later.