Opening an InDesign document in Scribus

It is not possible to edit InDesign documents with a text editor. But, by saving it as an .IDML and opening it in the open source program Scribus, editing functions are enabled. Here’s how I did it:

 

Open business card with InDesign
Open business card with InDesign

 

InDesign .IDML file opened in Scribus
InDesign .IDML file opened in Scribus

Business Card File in Scribus

This worked fairly well. The only issue I had was that the tracking (space between letters) was a bit off and the upside-down “J” I used to create the lower-case “f” in “Jeff” got flipped over. Otherwise, the styles and colors were all intact.

Book layout in InDesign
Book layout in InDesign

 

InDesign .IDML file of book opened in Scribus
InDesign .IDML file of book opened in Scribus

Paginated Book File opened with Scribus

The book conversion didn’t go as well. The main body of the text was OK, but the TOC, some drop caps and footers got messed up. Still, it is an editable document. One thing was, though, is that my blockquotes defaulted to Arial. It seems that in some cases there was a character style on top of the paragraph style that carried over from the original Word file. A simple fix, however.

Command-A in the Scribus file
Command-A in the Scribus file

This was interesting. I placed the cursor in the text and hit Command-A to select the entire text string. It highlighted one page. However, that wasn’t really true.

Deleted text in Scribus
Deleted text in Scribus

When I deleted the highlighted text, it seems that the entire text string really was highlighted, as the whole thing got deleted. Then something even more interesting happened…

Command-Z in Scribus
Command-Z in Scribus

I hit Command-Z to undo the delete. The text came back, but the formatting was now messed up.

Edit Scribus File in Text Editor

If you open a Scribus file in a text editor and open an InDesign file in a text editor, you will see that Scribus is very readable whereas, InDesign is not. You can make changes in both and save the file, but the results are quite different. Editing an InDesign file in a text editor (TextEdit on a Mac) renders the file useless.

error message
Error Message

Editing a Scribus file produces better results. I edited a Scribus document on a Mac using TextEdit. This rendered the file useless, just like InDesign. But, then I tried it on my Linux Ubuntu machine, using Gedit, which I launched from the Command Line and, voilà, the file opens and the changes I made in Gedit were retained. How can this be useful? Say you are a printer and you receive a Scribus file. The client calls and says there is a small typo. Instead of getting a new file, open the Scribus file in Gedit and you should be good to go.

Scribus edited in Gedit on Linux
Scribus edited in Gedit on Linux

 

Scribus opens after Gedit changes
Scribus opens after Gedit changes

I converted an InDesign doc to an .IDML so that I could plop in some PDFs. It seems Scribus is not as easy for this function like InDesign. However, after it failed, I simply converted my PDF imports to JPGs and imported them into Scribus. That worked great. I exported my document as a PDF but noticed that the files size was rather large. I’ll have to investigate that later.

Large PDF from Scribus
Large PDF from Scribus

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *