Open Source Desktop Publishing

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While most desktop publishing programs are only available for Windows and Mac platforms, there's some free and open source software, often available for Mac, Windows, and Linux, that shouldn't be overlooked.

This listing is intended for those who've had a little experience with desktop publishing.

Gimp

The Gimp is a cross-platform image editing program designed as a free, open source replacement of Adobe Photoshop. While its features and software environment/feel differ, it can accomplish many of the same tasks. Plus, for those more comfortable with how Photoshop looks and feels there's now a modified version of the Gimp called GIMPShop that makes the user environment more similar.

The Gimp can import and export a wide variety of image formats and there are great documentation and tutorials online.

Scribus

Scribus is cross-platform, supports CMYK color, has good PDF creation, has lots of printing and exporting options, and is generally a good bet if you want to make your work print-ready. There's also lots of online support available, including an email list, IRC chatroom, and wiki with tutorials (http://wiki.scribus.net/). It's also open source and free (as in beer).

It's good to know that Scribus create files in its own format. It can import SVG, PS, OpenDocument, MSWord, HTML, and RTF formats and export as PS, PDF, EPS, and images, but cannot read or write the native file formats of commercial programs like QuarkXPress, Microsoft Publisher, and InDesign.

Inkscape

A vector drawing program for Linux! Inscape's easy to use and has some good interactive tutorials (at http://www.inkscape.org/doc/ - the tutorial becomes interactive when used from within the program).

There are stable releases available for Windows and Linux, and a Mac version is being developed. Inskscape is free and open source.

Like Scribus, Inkscape can import SVG, PS, OpenDocument, MSWord, HTML, and RTF formats and export as PS, PDF, EPS, and images, but cannot read or write the native file formats of commercial programs like QuarkXPress, Microsoft Publisher, and InDesign.

OpenOffice.org Draw

OpenOffice.org Draw is part of the OpenOffice.org office suite: a cross-platform, free, open, powerful set of software that can replace the seemingly ubiquitous Microsoft Office Suite for most purposes.

OpenOffice.org draw is a lighter-weight publishing program: fine for many simpler applications, and can import and export a nice variety of formats. QuarkXPress, Microsoft Publisher, and InDesign are once again not supported, nor are SVG (scalable vector graphics -- yet).

Pagestream

What they say: "PageStream is a full-featured desktop publishing program. It is suitable for all levels of publishing, from simple newsletters to color advertisements to technical books. With PageStream you can create letters, colorful schoolwork, presentations, business cards and any other type of document."

While we've never used this software at Free Geek before, reviews (like the one at http://www.itreviews.co.uk/software/s300.htm) compare it favorably with Quark and InDesign. The program is cross-platform and has lots of bells and whistles.

Something that may deter the average publisher/zine-o-phile from using this software is the price tag. It's $99 to start, and upgrades cost $20-$40.