Unstable Scribus gets support for InDesign snippets

Unstable Scribus gets support for InDesign snippets

Developers of Scribus, a free desktop publishing application, improved support for IDML file format used by Adobe InDesign and added support for IDMS files.

The team spent last two weeks rewriting the IDML importer created in early 2010 by Jain Basil Aliyas. The new version reads more markup elements and fixes a couple of bugs.

First of all, Scribus now imports more useful text markup, including character styles and some paragraph formatting:

Paragraph and character styles from IDML

It will also read multiple columns. Here is the original:

Multicolumn text from IDML

And here is the imported text frame:

Multicolumn text from IDML

One thing you will immediately notice is that in this particular case hyphenation didn't work. Well, this is simply because InDesign didn't save hyphen characters to IDML. But Scribus actually can read special characters now (­ and ‑ would be the ones).

Another thing is that if you don't define a body text style in InDesign, Scribus will use whatever default font you specified in Preferences for the Text tool. So better get things right from ground up.

The new version of the importer also supports linked text frames, linked images, special chars, object styles and inline objects in text frames and text on path.

Speaking of text on path objects (well, type on path, if you follow InDesign terminology), Scribus supports them now as well, and since it also started reading open paths correctly, your basic text on path is going to look exactly as it should. Here is the original object:

Type on path in InDesign

Here is what Scribus displays:

Text on path from IDML

Unfortunately the importer doesn't yet read tables and table styles, even though the new Tables tool is already part of the unstable branch. Mapping that part of data presumably will take a while.

Pretty much the same applies to footnotes: Scribus skips them for now. Presumably that's not for long: earlier this month Cezary Grabski reported in comments to the "" article that he's working on footnotes feature in Scribus.

Finally, as the news title suggests, Scribus got importing of XML based InDesign snippets (IDMS, not the older INDS). Again, it only reads the part of the file it can map to existing Scribus features. So if you have a snippet with a text that has a drop shadow effect applied to it...

Text snippet with drop shadow effect

...it's not gonna work:

Text snippet from IDML

Currently you have to import snippets via File/Import/Get Vector File… menu. It'd make sense adding this functionality to the Scrapbook instead, where, IMO, it really belongs.

Other than that, the changes are very welcome. Hopefully the team will be able to finalize v1.5 branch soon enough.

Other changes from 1.4.0 in the unstable branch include, but are not limited to:

  • a new tool for creating and editing tables
  • advanced gradients and mesh gradients
  • dockable dialogs and UI clean-ups
  • PDF/X-1a and PDF/X-4 exporting

There are even more changes in works, but not in a public branch yet.

For production this branch is still not recommended due to changes in file format and regressions that will be taken care of in due time. Stay tuned for updates!

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3 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. Nice that you are following the development of Scribus very closely.

    Just a small note regarding the scrapbook, you can already use the scrapbook with your idml/idms files, just open a new tab pointing to the folder where the files are stored. Currently the preview is missing, but that will be fixed soon.

    If you want to help me, it would be nice to send me sample idms or idml files, best with screenshots how they are displayed in Indesign. The more files i get the better for the importer.

    Please send any files if you have ones and want to share them to Franz.Schmid [at] altmuehlnet.de

    Franz Schmid
    Scribus Developer

  2. Alexandre Prokoudine 31 January 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Franz, I can definitely generate you some sample files :)

  3. I can confirm footnotes support is in progress. Main code is almost ready and working (inserting footnote`s marker in text creates and/or inserts note in footnote`s frame). Now I am working on automation for creating footnotes frames accordingly to footnotes markers appearing in text.