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DTP

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Insolent Lad, May 1, 2020.

  1. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Maester

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    DTP being Desk Top Publishing. Maybe this could go in Writing Resources but it's probably better here. Anyway, I've played about with varied programs for this over the years, some advertised as DTP, others (like Corel Draw) being graphics programs, and some lowly word processors. Of the latter, OpenOffice/LibreOffice Writer is the only one I consider adequate for interior book design/typesetting, having been designed from the ground up (or code up, I guess is more accurate) as much like a DTP app as a word processing one. I've used it a fair amount for the relatively simple design of most of my books.

    So, along comes Affinity Publisher for Serif. Supposedly it has most of the functionality of InDesign at a way lower cost—and right now it's at half-price, plus there is a 90 day free trial. At that lower price, which comes to $25, it might be smart for me to purchase it, even if I don't strictly need it ! I'm fooling around with the trial right now. There is a learning curve and I may not be willing to stick with it, but we'll see. Incidentally, Serif used to have a publishing program called PagePlus that wasn't bad, but not really ideal for longer books. This is a completely new and different program.

    This is just intended as a heads-up for anyone interested in DIY book design—and doesn't want to pay Adobe twenty bucks a month. :)
     
    Slartibartfast and Steerpike like this.
  2. Slartibartfast

    Slartibartfast Minstrel

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    Bargain compared to getting Creative Cloud for the long term (current pricing £6,000 per decade). Good find.

    I'd just like to chuck a few more options into the mix. My recommended Holy Trinity of open-source design is Scribus (DTP), Inkscape,(vector editor), and GIMP (raster editor). They're all free, open-source and available on Mac, Win, and Linux. I haven't used Adobe since CS3 (back when you could actually buy it, not just rent it) but can vouch for these being comparably capable. Scribus is a little less friendly than InDesign and relies on you being familiar with a menu labyrinth. All (including Adobe) come with a learning curve if you're not used to this type of software - well worth it though.
     
  3. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    On and off, I've used Serif products for the last 20 years. I've always liked them, especially the price!
     
  4. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Maester

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    I've played with Scribus. Like InDesign or even this Affinity program, it feels like overkill for setting up a typical novel. Were I putting out a graphics-heavy magazine, a text book, etc. a full-blown DTP is great but I'm finding it quicker and simpler to continue using OpenOffice (incidentally, the Draw app in OO can work nicely enough for layout work).

    Gimp is definitely a useful program but Inkscape frustrates me. I do the bulk of my graphics work in an older version of Corel Draw.
     
  5. Chuck

    Chuck Dreamer

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    I've long wondered how that decision has affected their bottom line. I stopped using Adobe because of that and switched to to LibreOffice instead of Micro$oft.
     
  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I've got Affinity (Serif) Publisher on the 90-day deal and I have to agree with others. It feels alien. I mean, I can't even import .odt or .docx or even .rtf. Only PDF or JPG or suchlike. Srsly? For this I should pay money?
     
  7. Slartibartfast

    Slartibartfast Minstrel

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    I’ll not sermonise on the benefits of using a full DTP program over a word processor (I’m sold but there are better explainers out there than I’ll manage to bash out on the fly). I can possibly explain why importing various document formats isn’t supported:

    Mainly, in all the formats you mention everything is already done. Every single setting you could want to play with is already set – ok most of it has been set automatically for you without the precision of a DTP program. But it’s nonetheless set: margins, bleed, pagination, fonts, kerning, line-spacing. I don’t think it would occur to the designers that someone would want to set all of this using the automatic settings in a word processor and then drag all of that weirdness into a program for typesetting in order to re-typeset it .

    Secondly word processors are not usually very clean. They’re very user friendly but the formatting is imprecise. If, for some reason, you really did want to mostly typeset in Word or Libre and then finish up in a DTP it would be a mess: Automatically converting sloppy word-processor formatting into the DTP program would probably require so much manual cleaning up as to not be worth it. A nice, clean .txt meanwhile drags none of this oddness in.

    (But I do feel your pain: getting into a new piece of software which is supposed to save you time yet absolutely nothing is intuitive and everything seems pointlessly complicated.)
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2020
  8. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    The bit about unformatted text makes sense. I just did a search and discovered Publisher will accept both txt and rtf, but not the way you'd expect. Of course.

    It's not there on File, Import. Instead, you create a text frame and then you still don't import, you "Place" the file.

    Of course. Memories from the distant past take on the shape of Pagemaker and I understand. It's because the entire work is going to include graphics (the cover, at the least) along with other material that gets formatted differently from the main text. So you create frames for each type of material. Word processors call them sections, but sections aren't as flexible as frames are.

    The Ghost of Pagemaker reminds me how many layers of teeth I gritted away, how many colorful new curses I invented on the way to understanding DTP, even at a superficial level. It all really does make sense after the fact. But it is a whole adjustment away from author writing mode. So, now I get to be marketer, business manager, as well as author. And don't forget editor, proofreader, and oh what the heck let's throw artist in there as well. Wait, wait, aaannd ... layout professional!

    Or have enough money to hire all that and go back to writing. Dang, missed that boat, too.
     

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