View Full Version : Suggestions needed for Free/Open License Page Layout Software

09-11-2011, 11:42 PM
Hi everyone,

I'm looking for a free or open license/open source software that will allow me to do page layout and design. I'm a big fan of GIMP and OpenOffice, and I'm hoping to find something similar that is easy to use out of the box and be up and running with minimal to medium learning curve.

I know about Scribus (http://www.scribus.net/canvas/Scribus) and the free version of PagePlus (http://www.serif.com/FreeDownloads/). I'd love to hear some of the pluses and minuses of those programs as well as any other software suggestions you may have. Bonus points if the program will open/convert old Microsoft Publisher files!

Thanks in advance! :)

09-12-2011, 02:17 AM
Haven't tried any of them as I use InDesign, but Scribus looks real nice, pageplus I can't help wondering what you don't get with the free version. Pageplus looks more template driven, and if you're used to working with Publisher, perhaps that would be the best fit for you. Although if you want to do real page layout (like you can with InDesign and Quark) I think Scribus is the stronger program (at least if you're going for free). This evaluation is however only based on what I saw on their websites. :)

09-12-2011, 04:49 AM
I've never used Scribus but I have Pageplus X5 (the paid for version) and love it. If you're after an easy learning curve, that is exactly what Serif products are geared towards. That said, I don't know how many features the free version of PP is missing, but I'm guessing that it won't have as much functionality as Scribus. My advice would be to try out Scribus first and if it's too complicated, go with PP free version. If you like it, I would consider buying PPX4 (One version behind the current version) which is normally much less PPX5 and which has almost all the functionality that X5 has.

09-12-2011, 05:45 AM
I use LaTeX myself (Usually pdfLaTeX or XeLaTeX) which probably isn't what you are after.

The learning curve is fairly shallow to start as you can produce some very nice looking documents with very little effort using templates ("Packages" in LaTeX speak). If you want to go beyond the basics of using a template, it gets complex fast though. Also some people can't get over that initial "It's not WYSIWYG" thing.

It uses a completely different data model from Scribus, In Design, etc so converting is pretty much a no go.

Still, you might want to give it a look. It gives you some serious geek cred if nothing else.

09-12-2011, 10:45 AM
Thanks for the input everyone! I am leaning towards the template-driven PagePlus (ease of use, generous free trial versions and affordable upgrade costs) but I have a question - how easy is it to create your own templates (rather than the defaults or the ones Serif sells), say for a professional/semi-professional rpg product?

09-12-2011, 10:53 AM
It's very easy to make templates with Pageplus. If you run into any problems I can help!

09-12-2011, 04:08 PM
Ya know, this subject just might be a good idea for a tutorial. Think of all those maps out there that have no page design whatsoever to them (like all of my tutorials n other things). I've got InDesign but never tried to use it (since learning Illustrator was a total failure for me I felt intimidated to try something else and fail at that too). Some walk-throughs for the various programs might be a good idea to learn the tools and then throw in some composition stuff and graphic design basics so we can give pages that extra "oomph". Not going to turn out magazine quality stuff here but some basic pizazz is well needed.

09-12-2011, 10:32 PM
Thanks ravells - I'll be taking you up on that offer! :) And good idea, Ascension - the Guild really is becoming an RPG-related software tutorial boutique of sorts beyond just the map! That can only be a good thing.

The reason I've been looking is because I have some game material I want to start sharing but I want to present it as nicely as possible. MS Word/OpenOffice Writer just weren't powerful enough and I no longer have a copy of MS Publisher. I like what I've seen after playing around with PagePlus for a bit - it reminds me of MS Publisher in some ways but I can already see where it can do the job better.

Thanks again, everyone. :)

09-13-2011, 02:05 AM
@Ascension - InDesign is much easier to learn than Illustrator, so give it a spin :) ... and yes I agree with you, I love when maps and even tutorials have that extra little thing, a frame, some consistency :)

09-25-2011, 08:55 PM
Update: I'm giving Scribus a serious spin now too. It is definitely way more powerful than MS Publisher or PagePlus, but I'm quickly learning the basics through some amazing YouTube video tutorials (http://www.youtube.com/user/HumpyCreature007#g/u). I can almost do everything now I could in Publisher and PagePlus. It's an interesting learning curve - it's not that it's a hard program to use, it's just that because of the large number of options for precision control, finding the "basic" stuff and remembering where it is next time can be a little tricky at first. I think I'm going to invest the extra time and go with this and keep the PagePlus demo for knocking out quick stuff.

11-17-2011, 01:12 PM
Update: Scribus has won me over. Here's another set of video tutorials for using Scribus that are exceptionally well done: http://showmedo.com/videotutorials/series?name=NfUrduNov

11-17-2011, 01:52 PM
I don't know why I feel this loyalty to Serif when there's free stuff which is equally good / better out there!

... but I do. I must be silly.

11-17-2011, 02:45 PM
I don't know why I feel this loyalty to Serif when there's free stuff which is equally good / better out there!

... but I do. I must be silly.

They're just tools. You should use the tool that you are most comfortable with. At the end of the day, whether I grab a Craftsman or a DeWalt, the nail still gets hammered into the board. :)

It is nice to have options to choose from though with regards to working style and price point. Not just with these desktop publishing softwares but with other things like cartography.