DTP Features

Here is a brief comparison between a few closed and open source vector graphics programs. It is a list of features that are not so much a roadmap as things that any self respecting desktop publishing software should have. You will note that not much of this is currently implemented in Laidout.

THIS TABLE IS FAR FROM COMPLETE! Please send me updates, or post on the Laidout mailing list if you see something that is not correct. You might also check out this comparison over on the Scribus site about import and export capabilities of Scribus, OpenOffice.org, Inkscape, GIMP, and Krita. Also this page about vector graphics editors in Wikipedia, this dtp comparison on Wikipedia, and also a plain list of such software.

Please note that I have no access to InDesign, Quark, or Illustrator, so the estimation of the capabilities of those programs might be totally wrong. They are based mostly on browsing video tutorials for them.

* Hover the mouse over a block to see what version the feature first appears in, if known, plus other relevant notes.
* If a spot is blank, its status is either not known, or the devs might be vaguely thinking about implementing it some day.
"partial" means the feature exists, but leaves much to be desired.
"planned" means actual coding has begun on it, but it is not yet functional.
"plugin" means that you can do it in the program, but you need an extra plugin.

Infrastructure Features Laidout Scribus InDesign Quark Inkscape Xara Illustrator
Impositioning Yes No1 partial2 No No No No
Folding signature based impositioning Yes No partial No No No No
Mobius strip impositioning planned No No No No No No
impositioning involving non-rectangular pages Yes No No No No No No
Spreading page contents over several pieces of paper, so you can print out a really big layout from your small printer Yes partial3 Yes partial No   Yes4
Math calculations in input boxes planned Yes Yes Yes Yes    
Plugins or scripting planned5 Yes Yes Yes Yes    
Edge feathering (as seen in Xara), or equivalent blurring       Yes Yes Yes  
Metafont-y erase brush, aka a knockout "color" or knockout groups              
Fill applied to stroke         Yes    
Editable textwrap path, independent from the actual object   Yes Yes Yes   Yes Yes
Editable clip path   Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Use objects as mask (softmask in pdf speak)   Yes   No      
Color separations   Yes   Yes      
Color system capabilities flexible enough for any number of inks (think "deviceN", not just RGB, CMYK, CcMmYK, etc) planned     Yes      
ICC color profiles planned Yes Yes Yes      
Autotrace images       No Yes    
Spread editor Yes partial partial        
overprinting/trapping on per object basis       Yes      
UCR, BG              
Rotate whole page view on screen by arbitrary degrees, not just portrait/landscape Yes No No No planned No No
Preflight verifier planned Yes   Yes      
Collect for out planned Yes   Yes      
Record macros, like Pagestream, Vim, or Openoffice!   planned   No      
Non-destructive Bezier patch transforms on any object              
Arbitrary f(s,t) transforms, and f(s) or f(t) transforms for paths              
Guides that are arbitrary paths, not just vertical and horizontal lines. planned No No No Yes No No
Aligning groups of points, text, and/or objects to paths              
Tablet support, stylus, eraser, mouse allowed different functions planned       partial    
Ability to use odd control surfaces like midi controllers, a la the Gimp planned            
Multi-touch support, or support for the poor person's version using 2 mice and XInput2 partial6            
 
 
Non-text Tool Features Laidout Scribus InDesign Quark Inkscape Xara Illustrator
Images Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Linear, and circle color gradients Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
On canvas gradient color spot editing Yes No     Yes No  
Patch gradients (aka mesh gradients) Yes Yes No No Yes No Yes
Image mesh distortions Yes No No No No No No
Lines/polygons Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Engraver fill Yes7 No     partial8   plugin
Ellipses, arcs, chords Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Paths composed of different types, such as a circular arc to a bezier segment to a straight segment, and still allow specialized editing of such shapes planned            
Beginning/end/middle arrows and such   Yes   Yes Yes    
Repeater tool along path   partial     Yes    
Cloning objects, optionally with link backs to original objects Yes partial     Yes    
 
 
Text Features Laidout Scribus InDesign Quark Inkscape Xara Illustrator
Text. Any text at all. I mean, come on! Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Text on a line   Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Text flowed across linked boxes   Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Manual layered color fonts (one file per layer), text editable as if it were a single font Yes            
Opentype color fonts              
Opentype feature support              
Mixed right to left, left to right   planned Yes9        
Vertical text         Yes    
Text streams in separate files, comparable to images not being embedded              
Convert Text to editable path   Yes Yes Yes Yes   Yes
Math equations support   partial10 plugin        
Story Editor   Yes Yes No      
Tabstops that lie on arbitrary paths, not just vertical and horizontal lines. Someday will be gone the days of rigidly defined and poorly accessed tabstops!   No No No No No No
Tables   planned   Yes      
Automatic Hyphenation and justification   Yes   Yes      
Insert sample gibberish text!! Yeah!   Yes Yes Yes Yes    
Numbered and unnumbered lists              
Generated pages, for instance for tables of contents, bibliography, index              
 
 
Export Laidout Scribus InDesign Quark Inkscape Xara Illustrator
To image Yes Yes   Yes Yes Yes Yes
EPS/Postscript Yes Yes   Yes Yes Yes  
Html       Yes   No  
PDF partial Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Scribus partial Yes No No No No No
SVG/Inkscape partial Yes     Yes Yes  
Openoffice.org Draw         Yes    
Passepartout partial No No No No No No
Laidout Yes No No No No No No
TeX/LaTeX No No No No partial No No
 
 
Importing Laidout Scribus InDesign Quark Inkscape Xara Illustrator
Multiple images at the same time Yes plugin11 Yes partial partial No No
EPS Yes Yes   Yes      
Html   partial12   partial      
PDF   partial   Yes      
Scribus partial13 Yes          
SVG/Inkscape partial partial     Yes    
Openoffice.org Draw   Yes          
Passepartout partial No No No No No No
TeX/LaTeX   partial14          
Laidout Yes No No No No No No
Externally rendered formats (for instance, Scribus render frames) planned Yes          


Lower level functions and other neat ideas from other programs, though maybe less vital:


Notes


[1] Infrastructure Features: Impositioning:
  Scribus
--  No 
You can use use Laidout in limited circumstances to impose Scribus documents. This is done with a Scribus script that calls Laidout. See here for more info. A different plugin was being developed during Google Summer of Code 2007, but it seems to have never been completed. Other relevant links include making booklets from Scribus, and the imposition bug report, in which there is much discussion. Other info here and here.

[2] Infrastructure Features: Impositioning:
  InDesign
--  partial 
It seems the built in impositioning of InDesign is quite limited. It can do left/right booklets, and fold out style imposing, which is simply several pages placed side by side. You need to get plugins for more thorough imposing.

[3] Infrastructure Features: Spreading page contents over several pieces of paper, so you can print out a really big layout from your small printer:
  Scribus
--  partial 
Scribus is set up to handle several papers right next to each other in a grid. In the file, there are PageSet sections. You can copy that and insert new PageSets. This allows spreading objects across many papers, but suffers from each page having to touch each other exactly, which leaves you with gaps if your printer cannot print to the edge of the paper. As of 1.3.5svn, There does not appear to be a way to edit these page sets in the gui. You have to edit the file manually.

[4] Infrastructure Features: Spreading page contents over several pieces of paper, so you can print out a really big layout from your small printer:
  Illustrator
--  Yes 
Appears to be auto laid in a grid with one overlap value, accessed from the Print dialog.

[5] Infrastructure Features: Plugins or scripting:
  Laidout
--  planned 
Since Version .09, there is a very rudimentary command interpreter. It can process simple math and a few commands like Open(), Reimpose(), and Export(). Future versions will have variables, looping, and much more access to objects.

[6] Infrastructure Features: Multi-touch support, or support for the poor person's version using 2 mice and XInput2:
  Laidout
--  partial 
Only the object tool has this (the poor person's version) in .091. More of that sort of thing will be built into future versions.


[7] Non-text Tool Features: Engraver fill:
  Laidout
--  Yes 
See this, for instance

[8] Non-text Tool Features: Engraver fill:
  Inkscape
--  partial 
There are several ways to make a series of hatchings in Inkscape. One is the nearness guide, where nearby lines are detected and when you draw a new line, it is drawn at a certain distance away. Another way is the Interpolate extension, which interpolates between two different lines, creating a field like effect.


[9] Text Features: Mixed right to left, left to right:
  InDesign
--  Yes 
Complicated history, but looks like CC supports this. Non-cc from CS4 can use the World Ready Composer, if you can find it.

[10] Text Features: Math equations support:
  Scribus
--  partial 
As of 1.3.5 anyway, you can render formulas in Scribus Render Frames, then copy the frame, then paste the frame while inside a text stream, from within a text frame. Pasting while in story editor will paste a bunch of xml data that is used as text rather than as an image. Suffice it to say inline graphics needs a bit of work.



[11] Importing: Multiple images at the same time:
  Scribus
--  plugin 
These plugins allows you to dump in images potentially to multiple pages, but you are restricted to a grid of 4, 6, or 12 images per page. If python programming doesn't scare you off, you could modify it to be more adaptible.

[12] Importing: Html:
  Scribus
--  partial 
Using the "Get Text" option in a text frame. CSS not supported yet. Text is pulled from the body element, and you can use these tags: div, a, p, br, h1, h2, h3, h4, ol, ul, li, pre, code, b, u, i, em, strong, sub, sup, del, u.

[13] Importing: Scribus:
  Laidout
--  partial 
Scribus import works with mixed results. As of .092, master pages and text variables are importable. As of .091, linked text and table frames stay linked, even in tiled impositions. The best way to use the importer is for reimposing. For this, import all data as mystery data, and all that data (other than master pages) will be passed through on export. If you do not import all as mystery data, please beware that images whose frames do not match exactly with their image boundaries are not handled correctly. This will hopefully be handled in .094.

[14] Importing: TeX/LaTeX:
  Scribus
--  partial 
Scribus render frames, in addition to TeX/LaTeX, also allow importing many other formats, like gnuplot, lilypond, mathml, as long as you have a renderer installed somewhere that can convert those things to an image format or PDF that Scribus can import. You can edit the source text within Scribus, then have the render frame re-render. The TeX input has a fancy symbol selector, which is convenient.



Last updated Mon Apr 10 16:16:40 2017