Scribus: software review

For several years, I was a proficient user of Pagemaker, having responsibility for a number of different desktop-publishing projects for clients.

I no longer do much of that for work, but still have a volunteer commitment or two that requires it.  Unfortunately, when I lost my hard drive last year, I never was able to find my PageMaker CD.  It’s an older version (6.5), but it did what I needed done.  So last year, my volunteer publications were constructed on my OLD laptop (now relegated to the youngest child).  Unfortunately, over this past Summer, it required a total reformat, so my only surviving copy of PageMaker was lost.

This week, it’s again time to put together an orchestra program… and I had no software.  I can’t justify $499 for something that I’m going to use four times per year (and donating my services at that), so I set out to see if there’s a comparable open-source package.

Scribus is it.  Although different from PageMaker, it has all the same functionality, and even seems a bit less finicky about working with imported images.  For example, PageMaker wouldn’t directly import from Photoshop (even though both are Adobe products); Scribus does.

Although it took me a little trial-and-error to figure out how to do the things that I’d learned over the years with Pagemaker, for the most part, it was a seamless transition.  If I’d had the time to actually order the manual before embarking on my first publication, it might have gone even more smoothly!

One of the attractive features of open-source software is the availability of a broad support community, rather than just a manufacturer’s site with paid support options.  There are wikis and message boards with more experienced users, so answers are just a few clicks away in most cases.

If you need to do professional-looking desktop publishing, I highly recommend Scribus.  And no one even paid me to say it (though the software was free, as it is for everyone).

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