I'm making a magazine. I have already made the entire "backend", meaning I have a database system where I can easily insert new contents, juggle it around in an "order" for each issue, edit it, etc., and dump it all as a plaintext "finished issue".

However, it strikes me that most of the world probably will be put off by a plaintext magazine, and want a beautiful printed PDF or some kind of digital file or something.

I have played around with "Scribus", an open source magazine GUI program, but found it very cryptic and limiting. However, I suspect that it's the best out there that exists which doesn't cost money, and money is very much an issue for me...

I'm trying to find out if there is some way to, if not fully automate, then at least allow me to dump some kind of "contents file" in a format that "desktop publishing" software understands and can thus allow me to easily "place around" the content and design it without forcing me to sit there and manually copying and pasting all the text fields from my "backend" system all the time, but instead just allow me to dump such a file, open some GUI program and have it insert my "content pieces" as objects which I can move around.

I assume that this is (roughly) how they have been doing things since the early days of desktop publishing in the 1980s, but of course, all software costs a ton of money and requires you to give up all your personal information to the company, which are both serious issues for me. On the other hand, Scribus seems to be the only desktop publishing program that is free, even after 35 years of this being a thing, so I don't know what to do now.

  • I doubt most free software has anything in this area. Yes it's a common workflow for publishing, but most publishers are not stuck with "free" solutions. Adobe InDesign, QuarkXpress, Adobe Framemaker.. all could do this. These are typically the tools publishers utilize
    – Scott
    Feb 5, 2020 at 21:13
  • Use XML and XSL FOP or TEX
    – joojaa
    Feb 6, 2020 at 14:34

1 Answer 1


You're not really asking a question so it's hard to give you an answer.

All I can tell you: it is for sure possible to get content from a database into Scribus without copy pasting.

One way would be to generate Html or ODT/RTF files from the database and load them into Scribus frames (there are many ways for doing that)

If you really only have plain text in the database (no formatting), it also must be easy to create a set of Python scripts that directly pull content from the database into specific Scribus text frames.

Or even automatically create full pages.

But, without more details about the project, I can't tell you more.

Finally, if you're starting now (in February 2020) with this project, make sure that you use the latest development version of Scribus. Don't stick with the very old stable version.

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