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        <title>Preface</title>
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<h2>Preface</h2>
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<p>What you have before you, the Scribus Online Help, started as a &ldquo;semi-ambitious attempt to create something quite different in technical documentation.&rdquo; When Peter Linnell, a professional pre-press consultant, who later acquired some fame in the Open Source community under his nickname <b>mrdocs</b>, entered a new territory with Linux, he stumbled across Scribus, which was still in its infancy at the time he joined the team. OK, strike &ldquo;joined&rdquo;. Peter Linnell actually <b>created</b> the Scribus Team, because back then, the project founder, Franz Schmid, was working alone. Peter Linell not only introduced Franz Schmid to the requirements of the printing industry, but also helped to attract other contributors.</p>
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<p>Here&rsquo;s Peter&rsquo;s report on how the Scribus documentation came into being:</p>
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<p>That I am writing this at all is a perfect example of chance in life.  Maybe even worthy of a little story.</p>
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<p>On the suggestion of a friend in IT, I started tinkering with RedHat Linux in a part-time attempt to broaden my world beyond desktop PCs. When one explores a new world, one often looks for things which are common with the old, even if just for comparison. So, once I discovered Gnome and KDE and even learned how to compile programs, I thought this is not so difficult.</p>
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<p>A quick hop on Google yielded a home page with Scribus 0.3.6, a Quark-like DTP program which had just started to be developed. So, download, do the ./configure bit and splat: Scribus won&rsquo;t compile. I fire off a quick e-mail with the gobbly-gook error message I had yet to understand and surprisingly just 20 minutes later a polite reply explaining the error of my ways. Good sign...</p>
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<p>A few e-mails later over the course of a few weeks, Scribus had a documenter who had very little understanding of application development, nor how to write even the most basic html. However, I knew and liked desktop publishing and had that sixth sense Scribus was and could be something really special.</p>
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<p>In the Open Source world, there are some great programs which are wholly lacking in any kind of documentation. There are also great programmers who are abysmal at documenting things. (Franz [the founder of the project] despite having English as a second language is excellent at explaining things.)</p>
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<p>So, that&rsquo;s how the Scribus documentation started, but as Scribus attracted more developers, and the more ambitious the project became, the less maintainable the documentation appeared to be for a single person. As is natural with successful Open Source projects, more people volunteered to expand the scope of information available about Scribus. It started with the <a href="http://wiki.scribus.net/canvas/Scribus">Scribus Wiki</a>, an ongoing successful collaborative effort, mostly written by users for users, and reached a climax with the publication of the <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Scribus-Open-Source-Publishing-Christoph-Sch%C3%A4fer/dp/0956078001/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1289106422&sr=1-1">Official Scribus Manual</a>.</p>
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<p>But the documentation efforts didn&rsquo;t stop with the publication of a printed book, quite the contrary! A review of the available documentation showed that many documents, while appropriately describing Scribus&rsquo;s features at the time they were written, needed an update to reflect the vast number of features in Scribus that had been added in the meantime, whereas some workarounds for Linux-related issues simply aren&rsquo;t necessary any longer on modern Linux desktops.</p>
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<p>The growing complexity of Scribus also collided with the original concept of the documentation, which can be described as as a mix of a diary and a field report, with some additional elements of a manual for sysadmins. This approach was undoubtedly necessary at the time the original documentation was written, as Scribus was first and foremost a Linux program back then. Fortunately, the Linux desktop is very user-friendly these days, and Scribus has been ported to other platforms as well.</p>
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<p>As a result, the Scribus documentation can now focus on a more structured approach, which will provide much more information about the practical use of the program. The priceless background information from Peter Linnell in the original documentation will naturally survive, albeit in another form, i.e., it will be spread across those documents for which the respective information seems applicable. And of course Peter Linnell is still <b>mrdocs</b>, which is yet another reason to have great expectations when it comes to further improvements to the Scribus documentation&nbsp;...</p>
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