One of the things we have always been quite proud of is the community which has developed around Scribus: the lively and flame free mailing list, the busy and accessable IRC channel on and not least the number of user contributions to the wiki, templates and other sample files.

We have never called for financial support for Scribus before. Now we are. There is a simple and easy way to help, not just the Scribus Team, but all the other free and open source graphics applications you probably use with Scribus. Collectively, we and the other teams have organized a community fund drive to help sponsor the costs of the Libre Graphics Meeting.

The Libre Graphics Meeting brings together developers and users of free software graphics applications, such as the GIMP,Inkscape, Scribus, Blender, Krita, the Open Clipart Library and more. For the first time, we are asking the community to help support this meeting.

What is the Libre Graphics Meeting?

In its third edition, the organization needs your help! You can support your favorite graphics application, and ensure that the travel costs of as many volunteer developers as possible are paid to ensure that this edition of the conference is as successful that its predecessors. The conference is May 8 – 11 in Wroclaw, Poland.

Where will the money go?

We have kept costs associated with infrastructure to a minimum. Over 80% of the conference budget will be spent on subsidizing travel and accommodation costs for developers. $20K is the goal to raise by Friday April 18! Already over $ 7000 has been raised in a just a short few days, which is humbling to see so much support so quickly. But our goal has not been reached yet and you can help.

So how does it help Scribus ?

For the team, it is the most important venue for us in the year. It allows us to collaborate with face to face, both as a team and with other teams. A couple of concrete examples:

At the first LGM, Marty Maria of Littlecms gave an excellent overview of color management use for developers. One of the issues we were struggling with was occasional crashes with non-conforming color profiles which were difficult to prevent. During a side session a couple of Scribus developers walked through how Scribus was using littlecms and Marti pointed out some special error checking code he had added to littlecms. He guided us on enabling it and a few days later Scribus now had the “self-defense” code to prevent bad profiles from causing a crash. When the Lprof developers were having the same kind of issue, we pointed them to the new code in Scribus which solved the issue.

During LGM2, we had some informal late night discussions with some Inkscape developers on the importance to add color management into Inkscape. We talked through some of the challenges and also walked through where we could improve SVG import. Since then, Inkscape has made its first foray into color management and Scribus has a more capable SVG importer.

These face to face meets, as we have learned, are vitally important to accelerate the progress of development, which in the end means better applications for everyone. :-)

So how does it work ?

Simply go the Pledgie Page for LGM and make your contribution.

A non-profit organization

All donations will be made to the conference organizers via the GNOME Foundation, a 501(c)3 tax exempt US-based non-profit, so donations will be tax deductible for US taxpayers. We would like to thank the GNOME Foundation for their support.

Thanks for your support!

This is just a quick update of the ongoing LGM2 in Montreal. Some last minute complications prevented all the Scribus team members from being here, but LGM2 has been an excellent meet so far. In brief:

  • We have announced the latest release of, 1.3.4 and the first public demo of 1.3.5, the port of Scribus to Qt4. The port is not complete, but Scribus compiles, loads documents and runs under Qt 4.2. Packages and source will available soon.
  • We saw Raphael from LeTigre give an excellent talk about how LeTigre has been produced using 100% FLOSS graphics applications.
  • The Krita developers give a well organized talk about the future of their painting/image editing application.
  • Louis Soares-Potts gave a presentation about the importance of Open Document format. We had a very interesting conversation about how ODF is used with Scribus and how we can better use ODF for not only import, but export for some use case our future plans with ODF.
  • The GIMP team has shown up en masse and we have had a bit more time to chat together informally. I hear the gimp developers want gimp 2.4 be out very very soon.

This list is far from complete and more to come…. Montreal has been a great host city.

You know how it is, idly chatting in #scribus, compiling a little, surfing here and there… and suddenly you want to know the distance from Montreal (site of LGM2 ) to Victoria (site of FOSS4G 2007 ). Nothing as easy as that, just ask Google Maps for directions and it’ll give you the km number for free. Unfortunately there are quite a lot of Victorias around the world, so you have to choose the correct one (in British Columbia). But seeing other locations listed, from Texas to Australia, you obviously try some more, just for the fun of it ( sadly only offers destinations on the North-American continent). Ok, no route to Victoria, Australia, nor to Victora, Seychellen — not really surprising.
The distance to Victoria, Texas is even shorter than to Victoria, BC, that’s a (small) surprise. But now: Google Maps Deutschland does have a route to Victoria, UK. Yippee!

google-map-montreal-victoria.png(click to enlarge)

Of course you wonder how to take the longer, middle leg of this journey, but — don’t fear! — Google Maps Deutschland has a solution in its itinerary for that, too. Read for yourself. :-D


P.S. And here’s what we really need: the route from Lyon to Montreal (this time in English language):

You might know that being an Open Source developer in general, and a Scribus developer in particular, allows you to travel all over the world, meet interesting people and have a nice dinner with them. This time I attended the GNOME Live! summit in Boston at the MIT. Thanks to Behdad Esfabod from Pango and Ed Trager from Unifont it also hosted the first FLOSS Text Layout Summit this year; and that was the reason for me being there (not  to prepare for porting Scribus to GNOME and not  for a tea party :-) ). Also attending where people from Qt, KWord, fontconfig, SuSE, DejaVu fonts, and SIL. So what was this about? You probably all had your share of font related problems, so it should be no surprise we talked about that — a little. The major part was concerned with international text layout. Ed Trager wrote a nice introduction on what this is about. If you are only familiar with Latin script, read in this article all about writing directions and how characters change their shape according to context. International layout usually includes the following steps:

  1. Itemize — find runs of characters which have the same script and font
  2. Shape — apply script specific substitutions and positioning
  3. Find linebreaks — most applications use the simple and straightforward approach, but Scribus will do something more sophisticated soon.
  4. Justify lines — by extending spaces, scaling glyphs, substituting glyphs or by script specific means, e.g. Kashida in Arabic.
  5. Render glyphs — that’s easy once you have all glyphs with their exact position and size.

Currently there exist three different libraries for international text layout (Pango, Qt and ICU) which all have their pros and cons. At the text layout summit we found out that we all share the common vision of a unified library. Why is that? Well, first of all, writing such a library is hard. Also you need a lot of people to check the results for each existing script. Second, there are still many scripts which are not supported yet, and the hope is to support scripts faster if we combine our efforts. Finally, users don’t appreciate if their native language works in some applications but not in others, just because they use different libraries. You can see this within Scribus if you compare for example Arabic text in StoryEditor and on canvas (The SE uses Qt and displays Arabic correctly).
But we also reached some decisions. As a first step we will write a unified shaping engine. I was surprised how fast the Qt and Pango developers agreed on a common datastructure for such a library (well, that’s only tentative, but I expected some long discussions there). Trolltech said they would consider relicensing their shaping code in Qt so it could be included in a common library. Finally we decided to develop the unified shaping engine on top of HarfBuzz. HarfBuzz is a library which handles OpenType tables and is already used by both Qt and Pango. The unified shaping engine will also be called HarfBuzz and will initially support OpenType fonts. Legacy Type1 and TTF fonts can be used for basic shaping in Latin script and for Arabic if they contain the necessary Arabic presentation forms. Later we also want to integrate Graphite, a new open source font technology from SIL, and platform specific glue code for AAT (Macintosh) and UniScribe (Windows).

Ah yes, in the future Scribus will use this unified shaping engine directly. KWord decided on using Qt, and most other applications will also use either Qt or Pango. There was also some interest from FireFox, OpenOffice, Inkscape and Abiword developers, but so far I can’t tell if they would use the new unified shaper directly or not.

Well, what else? We have a combined planning/agenda/minutes webpage. There are also links to some slides and audio recordings of most talks.

The organisation of the summit was not as good as LGM, though. Ok, there was free lunch (American pizza for all), but we had trouble to use a projector, had to organize audio recording ourselves, could only find (near dry) green and yellow pens for the whiteboard and worst of all: no coffee! At first I hoped I had discovered a very geeky coffee machine in one corner of the MIT media lab, but that was just a liquid nitrogen tank. :-(

But all in all, very nice people, very geeky setting, very good dining, and interesting and productive talks. And I had ExScite as my private sightseeing guide on my last day, thanks ExScite! :-)