Scribus 1.4.0 Released

After almost 4 years of intensive work, the Scribus Team (http://www.scribus.net) has released the new stable version 1.4.0 of the Open Source desktop publishing program Scribus.
Given this is the first major stable release in some time, this document outlines improvements over the last number of versions, rather than since just the last one. The idea is to form a general comparison between this and the last stable release.

In summary, more than 2000 feature requests and bugs have been resolved since the development of this new version started.

Major changes and improvements in comparison to the last stable version are:

  • 1.4.0 is based on the Qt4 application framework. The initial transition from Qt3 was performed quite quickly, but fine tuning for cross-platform compatibility and taking advantage of new features took quite some time. As a result, Scribus now runs equally reliable on all supported platforms.
  • Thanks to the port to Qt4, the Scribus Team now also provides install files for Mac OS X 10.5 or later (DMG or pkg format), as well as a native version for OS/2 Warp 4 and eComStation. Additionally, thanks to feedback from users of other UNIX platforms, Scribus is will build and run on more of those platforms as well.
  • Feature enhancements to object handling (e.g. transform tools like in advanced drawing programs), with improvements to existing features like the Scrapbook and the Image Manager.
  • Many advanced options for text and typography, like character styles, optical margins, or glyph extension. Undo/Redo is finally available for almost all text-related actions, and a new script enables replacing straight quotes with typographical quotation marks based on language settings. Usability improvements include better cursor placement and movement, faster layout on canvas and interaction between linked frames.
  • New features for vector objects, like Boolean path operations, vector effects or a line style editor.
  • Major improvements to the handling of fills, like pattern fill, more gradient types, support for external color palette formats (AI, EPS, GPL, PostScript, SOC), and many new color palettes, including those from commercial vendors like Resene and dtp studio, as well as national/government standards.
  • A new frame type called “Render Frame” allows for rendering (and subsequently export) the output of every program that can create PostScript, PDF or PNG files via the command line (e.g. LaTeX, Lilypond, POV-Ray) inside Scribus. The initial version of which was developed as a project for Google Summer of Code and this project has developed to allow import of externally produced documents, scientific publications and formulas. More renderers can be added with a simple configuration file.
  • Vector import filters: Scribus 1.4.0 provides new import filters for the following file formats: Adobe Illustrator (both EPS and PDF-based), Macintosh Picture (PICT), Windows Metafile (WMF), Xfig (FIG), Calamus Vector Graphics (CVG), Kivio Stencils (SML), and DIA Shapes (SHAPE).
  • Regarding bitmap images, the handling of Photoshop files has seen many major improvements, like support of multiple clipping paths or PSD layers. The Image Manager has been rewritten, and new non-destructive image effects have been added. Moreover, Scribus 1.4.0 now supports EXIF data in images, and import of Windows and OS/2 bitmaps (BMP) has been re-enabled.
  • Among the major enhancements to Scribus’s pre-press features, printing marks and the display of ink coverage in the Print Preview are the most important. In addition, Scribus now enables conversion of spot colors to process colors during PDF and PostScript export with a single click.
  • PDF export has seen major improvements as well. Scribus can now export to PDF 1.5, including PDF layers. Another new feature is the option to embed EPS and PDF files in exported PDFs as an alternative to rasterizing them. Also, both font embedding and substitution have been improved.
  • For color management, Scribus 1.4.0 now supports both littleCMS version 1 and 2. It’s also possible to enable color management with a single click from the main window.
  • Additionally, the Scribus Team has added a feature to emulate color blindness on screen.
  • Hundreds of minor and major usability improvements have been added.
  • The included scripts have been updated, including the addition of the “Autoquote” script in the Script menu to convert straight quotes in a text frame to correct quotation marks for many languages.
  • Scribus 1.4.0 is being shipped with many more templates than previous versions.
  • The content of the Help System has been rewritten and updated.

Now that Scribus 1.4.0 has been released, the Scribus Team will focus on stabilizing the 1.5 development branch, which will comprise amazing new features like support for PDF/X-1a, PDF/X-4 and PDF/E, Mesh Gradients, native PDF import, XAR import, a completely rewritten table implementation, a rewritten text system, and much more. The 1.4.x version is now in stable/maintenance mode, which means few features will be backported from the 1.5 development branch. In general, only bugs will be fixed in subsequent 1.4.x versions, along with new content, like new translations, new templates, or additional color palettes.

Important Information

If you are working with a team, try to make sure that all team members use the same Scribus version – this will avoid many headaches and extra work. Users should be warned that 1.3.3.x cannot open 1.4.0 files.

The Scribus Team recommends that all distributions package Scribus 1.4.0 as “Scribus” (and replace the outdated Scribus

The 1.4.x branch will now be developed in the Version14x branch of our Subversion repository, leaving the Version135 one behind. This also fixes the version numbering issues of the past, with just two main versions, 1.4.x and 1.5.x

The Scribus Team will continue to implement new features and improvements in the development branch 1.5.x.

We recommend the additional packaging of 1.5 only if it is marked as a development version and can be installed alongside an existing Scribus 1.4.0 (for example as scribus-ng).

The English online help has been mostly updated to match the new features. Translations have temporarily disabled, since they need to be synchronised with the English version once the update is complete. Further updates will be included with subsequent 1.4 releases.

Primary Download Location

  • Installation packages and the source code are available here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/scribus/files/scribus/1.4.0/
  • Upstream Debian/Ubuntu repo: http://debian.scribus.net
  • Fedora RPMS: http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/mrdocs
  • OpenSUSE, Mandriva and SLED RPMs: http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/mrdocs
  • All download options are listed at http://wiki.scribus.net/canvas/Download

Download Verification

Description File Name Sha1sum
Source scribus-1.4.0.tar.bz2 af38413420eaa783d20f2db189aef408be844048
Source scribus-1.4.0.tar.xz 0e3afb98a56084c2938a8402df2d89214c42b809
OS X Leopard or higher (DMG) scribus-1.4.0.dmg eae5adacdc207f4bda6136dc48c26b83dcbf6b9a
OS X Leopard or higher (PKG) scribus-1.4.0.pkg 64df9a61b33183dbc85b9a3090a648c75f320640
Windows 32/64 Bit scribus-1.4.0-windows.exe 268b9e8658528677ceac6252dae348c49643d159
OS/2 / eComStation scribus-1.4.0-os2ecs.zip 4fe0b3cf562cda4e1b78bf89a2340bb868610014


The Scribus Team would like to thank Anduin.net and Modirum for their continued hosting of all of the Scribus websites.

We are also grateful to the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie and Linux New Media (Germany) for sponsoring.

As of July 2011, the Scribus Team is also pleased to welcome Resene Colours (New Zealand) and Marabu-Druckfarben (Germany) as Special Supporters and donors of colour palettes which are part of the 1.4.0 release.

Finally, the Scribus Team would like to thank the many end users, translators, testers and contributors who helped us with this important release.

About Scribus

Scribus is an Open Source program for professional page layout with press-ready output to PDF files. Underneath a modern and user-friendly interface, Scribus supports professional publishing features, such as color separations, CMYK and Spot Color support, ICC color management, and versatile PDF creation.

It is hard to believe Scribus is almost an adolescent. Just yesterday, Scribus turned ten years old, with the first bits of code written by Franz Schmid in December 2000. A few months later, it was linked on Freshmeat and then, well… it kind of had a life of its own. I googled DTP and Linux and stumbled across the link to Franz’ home pages. Of course it would not compile… (User error on my part.)

However, after posting a short e-mail, during the time of dial-up internet, I got an almost instant reply with a: the correct fix b: a question I cannot remember exactly, but well, it struck me as the right kind of question.So a good sign.

Not long after that, began a long series of e-mails about page layout, PDF and design over the course of probably 2+ years. It was clear way back then Franz had the singular idea to create a page layout application with a robust powerful PDF engine. Then and now, it was a brilliant design decision in my opinion.

There have been some memorable moments:

The release of 1.0 which got the front page of slashdot and took out the community ISP in his town for 3 days and oops, my most important clients’ web server traffic climbed 5000% in a few hours, as all the screens shots were directly linked.

One other strikes me is testing a pre 1.0 version of Scribus in my client’s service bureau and seeing the color managed preview nearly perfectly matching the PDF output in a RIP.

Booting the first native port of Scribus on Windows (thanks Jean) and OSX (thanks Andreas)…

Another one is seeing LGM #1 come about from some idle chat in IRC. We expected an attendance of 50 to arrive and got 200..

Finding this mysterious character Ltning show up on IRC with an offer of lots of shiny gear for hosting us and delivering the goods.. for years on end now… I’ve yet to meet him in person, but already I know could give him my wallet and not worry.. Apparently the banks in Norway feel the same way :)

In the intervening years, Franz,  Craig, I and others, along with our families have shared holidays together; quite a special thing to see when it all began over the Internet – across continents no less. Even better, we are still involved daily, because we have a lot of mutual respect and the bonds of friendship, but its still fun!

So, here is a virtual tip of the hat to Franz, Craig, Petr, Christoph, Andreas, Jean, Pierre and the others. Keep on rockin’

Now that 1.3.5(1) is released, development has regained speed. Here’s a short overview of what has happened recently in 1.5svn and Scribus in general:

  • Scribus founder Franz Schmid returned from his well-deserved break with a big bang, the latter being experimental code to embed 3D objects in Scribus-created PDFs.
  • Franz also wrote import filters for Calamus Vector Graphics (CVG), WordPerfect Graphics (WPG) and Apple PICT files. The quality of those filters is already superb. Along the way he also created an import filter for colour palettes from Viva Designer.
  • The code of a successful GSoC 2009 project has finally found its way into 1.5svn, namely export to PDF/X-1a and X4.
  • The first part of another student project, an import filter for QuarkXPress Tags, has also been finished, and we expect to add the filter to trunk soon. The student, Jain Basil, is now working on a second import filter for InDesign’s IDML format and hopes to tackle the older InDesign INX format, as well as Xtags, later.

We are also glad that the release of 1.3.5(1) has found an overwhelmingly positive reception in the news outlets, from the Free Software press to magazines for professional publishers.

Finally, we are glad that more companies decided to support our project:

  • The German colour vendor Marabu provided us with colour data for the company’s colour sets, which have been exclusively measured under different lighting conditions for Scribus.
  • dtp studio Oldenburg, another German company, which is in the business of measuring, creating and commercially distributing colour palettes, colour software and colour atlases, donated a huge chunk of colour palettes and will also officially support Scribus, which means that Scribus users will be able to buy additional palettes that work with Scribus from dtp studio.
  • There’s also good news for those who use Scribus on OS/2 or eComStation, as Serenity Systems donated free (as in gratis) licenses of eComStation to the Scribus Team to help with porting Scribus and Fontmatrix to this platform.

And let’s not forget to mention the operator of Vector Portal who agreed to help us with the creation of attractive templates for business cards and presentation templates. Lest we forget: We’re also working on other sets of templates for magazines, brochures etc.

Does this sound good? There’s more to come, stay tuned!

We all know the saying “sometimes life gets in our way,” meaning that something didn’t work as expected. Scribus is no different, although in our case one major fact of “life getting in our way” was newly born (or soon-to-be-born Update: useradd -groups vanek,boys -c "23.07.09 7:00am; 3.2kg, 0.5m" filip) babies, meaning an all-out positive distraction. There were other reasons, of course, that led to the delay of 1.3.5′s release, but after a long time of frustration with the progress of the code, we now have a lot of reasons to expect a bright future for our project again.

What has happened?

  • Especially thanks to the infatigable efforts of Jean Ghali (jghali), Craig Bradney (MrB) and Pierre Marchand (pierremarc), 1.3.5 is 99% finished now. The number of bugs they have quashed over the last 12 months is simply astonishing!
  • Google enabled us to add some really unique features via its Summer of Code programme, among them support for an almost infinite amount of markup languages like LaTeX, Lilypond or POV-Ray, or import of CorelDraw files, as well as a huge list of other vector or bitmap file formats.
  • This year, the Scribus Team was confronted with 6 GSoC applications of equal quality, but given the large amount of applications, the Google selection process required us to select four students, which turned out to be very hard. Fortunately, we have good and reliable friends in India, namely Sarai. Since most of this year’s applicants were Indian citizens, Sarai, in cooperation with NIXI, enabled two other students from India to work on a Scribus-related project by means of a fellowship.
  • The author of this rant has contacted colour vendors all over the world and asked for digital colour palettes of their proprietary colours under a Free license. The reactions, so far, have been mostly positive, but in most cases, the licensing conditions still need to be negotiated. The major exception here is the New-Zealand-based colour vendor Resene. The company didn’t hesitate one second to support Scribus, and their willingness to cooperate and their speed, as well as their professionalism, left me speechless at times.

All that being said, and with a big Cheers to our supporters, I’m more confident than ever when it comes to the future of our project.

One of the things which is perceived as a stumbling block to using Linux as a designer’s platform is the lack of font management tools. Most graphics professionals started or at some time worked on a Mac and often enough MacOS 9 or earlier.

So, while font management is nowhere as difficult on Linux as it might be assumed since the arrival of Keith Packard’s fontconfig, it is a perception thing. Moreover, KDE3 for a while, now has a simple and very effective font manager/installer called Kfontinstaller. I have commented elsewhere that I think it is the simplest and most user GUI friendly font manager on any platform. It is a font manager with no extra bells and whistles. To boot, Linux can run with lots of fonts installed with no large performance hit – unlike earlier graphics apps and older Windows versions.

Getting back to Macs, and in my experience with production workstations on Win32 , a 100% certainty was the need for a third party font manager. Most of the time either Suitcase or ATM sufficed. They made it manageable to use and select from more than a few hundred fonts.

Plus, fonts on pre-OSX Macs had a nasty tendency to corrupt themselves every once and a while. Most of the older font managers had tools to try and fix this too. Something which one should never worry about happening on Linux. ;-) As you can imagine over time doing layout professionally you tended to end up with hundreds if not thousands of fonts installed. Not good for performance and a nightmare to manage without third party tools.

Given all that, one can see why graphics and layout folks are asking: “Where is the font manager ?” In a sign of the increasing maturity of open source as a graphics platform, there is now a real font manager built with the kind of features and abilities graphic designers, layout pros. along with others have felt necessary, but modernized with some new touches. Introducing Fontmatrix. :-)


One thing where Fontmatrix has the older proprietary managers beat is the concept of ‘tagging’. This makes it really nice to group fonts and even sub-group them logically for use in say a book. It also has extensive support to give you a nice gui to show all the glyphs in a font, previews of sample text, variable sizing and also tell you what kinds of advanced Open Type features are inside the guts of your font. That is something I’ve never seen outside of a font editor. And not least, it creates a nice PDF catalogue of your fonts for printing or reference. All in all, a real pro’s font manager, but still nice and user friendly.
Fontmatrix is still young, but it does not crash for me and it works really well already. For installing ease, I have packaged it for Suse 10.2+ and Fedora 8 on the OpenSuse Build Service which I have talked about before. Enjoy.

While we recently released into the wild, one of the tools we used for the first time is the new OpenSuse Build Server. So why the rant ?

In a word it is terrific. :) It still is in “beta” phase and there are features to be added. However, it is a major helper for time stretched developers to package their application in a sane way and then automagically push them to rotating mirrors worldwide without a lot of fuss.

It is all fine and well if you write the best code in the world if no one can use it. And that means packaging. For Linux, that means creating a .deb or creating rpm packages which many Linux distributions use.

The magic is one can upload the source and a spec file which is a recipe to build rpms. Select which platforms to build, push a button and voila. In an hour or two you have all your packages built in a carefully controlled manner. This allowed us to supply for all Suse releases 9.3+ including the Enterprise Desktop 10 for the first time. Even better for users, they can use what ever tool be it Yast, Smart or Yum to add these repositories to get the latest greatest Scribus with all dependencies automatically satisfied. Push button packaging for users too :)

In part two, I’ll explain the master plan and I’ll rant a bit more about why this is all a Good Thing ™

So a big thanks to darix, adrianS and the Build Server team for making such a nice tool and allowing us to play.

We rant and rave about Scribus’ PDF quality and its ability to make commercial grade PDF by mere mortals. A design decision made early on to focus on robust PDF export was in hindsight a brilliant one by Franz. OK, now that is one side of the PDF coin. The other side is parsing and editing PDF. A task even more complex in some cases and in no case trivial.

We often get asked when Scribus will edit PDF and if there are tools which will do it easily and are open source. The first answer is eventually – but it will not be easy, given the team’s collective knowhow about PDF. The second is nothing open source beyond some minor manipulation like splitting, merging and some imposition. And while Acrobat Professional can do some limited PDF editing, it cannot do everything. PDF editing in the way most people perceive is the realm of pre-press specialist Acrobat plugins which are expensive and require some knowhow of pre-press and commercial printing. They also require Acrobat Professional.

Today, I had a chance to get a cvs build of PoDoFo and its GUI browser running which uses cmake and Qt4. PoDoFo is the first serious attempt to write an open source pdf library and tools which can both parse correctly the internals of a PDF and edit PDF. :-)


Podofo Browser walking through the internals of a Scribus created PDF

Above is the PoDoFo browser tool. To the untrained eye, you’d say “So what?” To the trained eye what you see is the ability to parse, select and even edit the contents of a PDF. Things like extracting and replacing images. Or eventually re-embedding fonts. Or editing the text within the PDF. Or …
So what it is about PDF that makes it so difficult to edit? Simply parsing PDF correctly is difficult enough. One, it is a non-linear format. You can put the fonts after the text and put the images above them if you want. Content is embedded in what are known as streams and one needs to decipher on the fly the type of stream it is, how it is compressed and where it belongs in the file, along with things like how it is displayed. Oh and objects are reusable too. You cannot simply fire up your preferred editor and start hacking.
PDF was always meant to be “Electronic paper” if you will. In final finished form the idea is it will display the same everywhere no matter what platform or device. (You can display PDF in a Palm Pilot easily.) It was never ever meant to be edited once created.
As I said, not trivial. Then, even if you figure all this out, then you need to reassemble all these bits in a PDF coherent way which won’t break when reloaded in a viewer.

So, PoDoFo is the first real open source PDF editor. Plus, it comes with some other very useful tools for PDF. It will be in the future I hope a PDF library to allow lots of applications to create high quality PDF with the same kind of simplicity and robustness Scribus has now. The key thing is now it is able to get to the much of the low-level bits inside of a PDF. From this lots of magic will come in the future I am sure.

Ready to do some surgery on a PDF ?

This afternoon and tonight, I had a chance to thoroughly beat up on a very recent snapshot Krita 1.6svn :)

What I wanted to see was if I could at last do simple RGB to CMYK conversions and

  • Avoid diving to the command line.
  • Would be usable and understandable for mere mortals who are not color management geeks.
  • Do this in simple 1,2,3 steps that could be explained to Scribus users for reliable transforms from RGB into CMYK.
  • Display reliably in Scribus what would end up coming out of commercial printer.

Krtia succeeded with flying colors.

Now, with Krita 1.6 installed you can take any decent RGB jpeg, png, PSD or tiff open it and convert it to CMYK and then safely, reliably save it as a CMYK TIFF which then imports into Scribus without a fuss. My first tests show that the images in the PDF’s exported look exactly like the original RGB jpeg and PSD files I opened in Krita. As close I get when doing the same in PS6.
The official announcement awaits, but it should be out and available packages soon.

I’ll rant more later about the details ;)
This is a huge step for open source graphics. Huge.

Well, we said CMake rocks, but after the time we have used it, we have generally come to like it. So far it has provided our escape we wanted, and given us more flexibility and ease of build system modification. A generally good experience all round you could say.

Well thats all very nice, technically, but this post is just a big thank you to the CMake team that have helped me with the migration task, and in more recent times, quick fixes into CMake, and fixes into our CMake setup. I had made some mistakes initially and it wasn’t until this week that I had time to track it down as discrepancies between building here and on other devs’ machines didn’t make sense. You know… clean checkout, clean build of CMake and Scribus… builds fine here. Same clean versions on another box… splat. In the end, it was a mistake in my code and the CMake guys spent the time to find it… simply outstanding support. Another vote from me goes their way.

And a “Thank you, Peter” for the great work you are doing for Scribus. If there are two things most software developers (and FOSS developers in particular) really don’t like to do, it’s writing documentation and regression testing. The Scribus project is very lucky to have Peter, who does not only do a fantastic job with both, but also is an excellent promoter for the Scribus case, and — last not least — provides invaluable background information on the pre-press business to us less experienced developers.

So, a great round of cheers for Peter! We’re all looking forward to another exciting year of team work together with him.

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