I recently heard that scribus is a good free alternative option to Indesign. I recently opened Scribus up, and none of it makes any sense, and it doesn't look like it'd be a good fit for what I want to do. What are some pros and cons for each?

I'd say if you're just starting out without having existing InDesign files, and customers/colleagues working with InDesign, Scribus could be good. But for more serious work, you run into its limitations pretty quick.

Scribus pros:

  • Free
  • Available for Linux and other OS's
  • With that, you can theoretically collaborate with anyone

Scribus major cons:

  • Much less advanced typography capabilites
  • Lacking documentation and community/knowledgebase is much smaller
  • Cumbersome and rather slow UI
  • Can't open or write INDD files
  • Doesn't support Pantone colors
  • Requires scripts to do many things InDesign does natively, like Data Merge

Like most open source graphic design software, it's competent and capable, but isn't going to posses the same range of features that the commercial alternative will typically have. In addition, OS graphic design software is often lacking in CMYK/Print support.

So, generally speaking (applies to most OS graphic design software):

Pros:

  • price (free)
  • no licensing hassles

Cons:

  • typically limited feature set
  • not as widely supported in the industry
  • may have a less polished UI

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