Friday, 14 July 2017

InDesign, Scribus or Web?

I've reached the point where its time to start putting together the final book designs, and I hit a wall. Publisher Layout.

Which One to start using? InDesign, Scribus or Web

Google Docs was great and all for writing the whole bunch of rules into various folders and chapters and such, I even managed to get a simplistic 'mail-merge' to take my 600 background professions and divy them up into strutures readable by users to choose/have chosen for them, their backgrounds. This meant that I didn't have to hand write each and every one. But it does mean I have to design each and every one.. right?

I Spent maybe 4 weekends with two of my help team (Christian & Rory) sorting through this massive list of backgrounds that needed to be tabulated and filtered into the 12 different background tables.

So now I have the stats for 600 backgrounds. I can pull those stats into a table, but the table can't take a background image, or multiple background images, and pull it all together properly. Google docs is more limited than word doc..

I Asked a graphic designer, possible? and got the reply.. Um, No? but maybe their company had never dealt with such a request.

Expensive,
but maybe does everything

So I started research.. InDesign, I use here as a catch-all for the "free to try, Pay by the month" kind of tools. There is a learning curve, there might be aspects of the tool I want to use, locked behind a paywall, So I gotta ask myself. is it worth the 2-4 months of learning and the $6-$60 a month membership, to be able to create the PDF just exactly so? It Better!
Learning Curve,
 might have blockers


Next, Scribus. Or all the free tools many can do everything that InDesign does, but free. Sometimes that mostly just means its harder to find tutorials or stack-exchange articles on how to do it. My real concern is that  it has less functionality.. Should I waste 4 months of learning, just to discover that it can't do what I need also?

Comfort, Ability?
Likelyhood of working?
And lastly, Web Technology.. I recently played around with the @page feature. Turns out I can make a PDF from data. Images,Gradients, positioning, all the bits and pieces I need, I just need to write it all, by hand.. (which I can do)

So I'm sitting at this point, wondering.. Which path will I go down.. what pitfalls await me, what blockages will force me to try different angles or paths or variants, and will it be acceptable to take those variants, instead of doing exactly what I want.

If you're reading this and saying.. In Design/Scribus for the Win, then I have to ask the vitally important questions:

1. Can I create a multi-layered graphical template for a 5th of the page, each element relying on data from a CSV or better yet JSON object, that will tell each template how to react, i.e. top margin 2px, top border 1px wide, red, solid, gradient, over a parchment background, with a choice of semi-transparent images of either blood, magic or burn marks, (again, based on the Data), positioning of 24 numbers, with different titles on each, and some dice symbols (either as imported fonts or graphics). With alternative, left side/right side for the text, and have 4,5 or 6 of them appear per page. With the caveat that I have a parent object true/false flag that I can toggle at any point and print only the true flagged ones for the final PDF? (incase my test runs prove that having a street thief and a beggar are too similar and I drop one, and replace it with peddler) so all I need to do is change the flags true/false and press print.

An Example of the Above:
Grabbed from Google, but represents half of what I'm talking about.


2. Can I dynamically change the background image per page, to my page numbers have a ticking clock behind each, so my reader can 'flip' book through the pages and see the clock ticking? and if I decide later to change the 'time' I can do so simply, and the whole book updates?

3. Can I nominate a transparent image to be present on each page, and alter it based on maths, to get a little larger, spread and position differently.. but drop it if need be without having to do anything other than click a box "Add blood stains".

Because, so far, my research suggests that none of this is done easily.. it would be painful to set up, create and test, chewing up any time saving from having to just position each time once at the very end of the creative process, and hope that I don't need to change it later.
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