Open letter to the Scribus development community

Dear people working on the open source desktop publishing application Scribus,

Thank you for working on this project. Linux needs desktop publishing software badly, and it seems like for some reason, you are the only community who can be bothered to work on it. Maybe DTP carries a stigma because it’s primarily associated with print, which is all unhip and old-media these days.

However, there are some areas in which you really have to do better. First off, your application is uncharacteristically crash-prone. Also, the Dutch localization is so poor you might as well not have offered it at all. But these issues pale in comparison to the sheer appallingness of your Story Editor in which users can do basic text editing. Yes, I understand that a desktop publishing program is not a word processor. However, the ability to enter text is necessary in a desktop publishing program, and the functionality is relatively easy to implement. So why is the Story Editor incapable of entering into my document what I just typed into it or inserted through the menu for adding symbols?

For the record, when I use the menu to add a double left quote, double right quote or apostrophe, and then hit the Commit button to have the text inserted into the text box, I do not expect any of the following to happen:

  • Insertion of a straight quote or straight apostrophe at the insertion point
  • Insertion of nothing at all at the insertion point
  • One of the above, plus insertion of a space to the right of the insertion point
  • Insertion of a space two characters to the right of the insertion point
  • Deletion of the character to the right of the insertion point and/or the next character to the right
  • Insertion of the correct quote, but at a point other than the insertion point
  • Preservation of an existing straight quote that was selected to be overwritten

It often takes six or seven attempts to insert all the apostrophes and quotes correctly and the extra proofreading involved slows me down considerably. This is not good enough if you claim to have a professional-level product.

To my best understanding, barring problems with the conversion and handling of various character sets, the problem of inserting text at a cursor and passing it on to a different function, application or file was solved some time in the 1960s. Smart quotes have been known since the mid-eighties. I’m puzzled as to why Scribus appears unable to take advantage of existing knowledge in this basic area of computing functionality.

Reinder Dijkhuis, who would like an open source DTP program that does not actively work against him.

PS: Another exasperating behaviour from Story Editor is how it changes numbers typed into it into letters upon commit or when switching between windows. Please make this stop.

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