Page maker

Create sophisticated page layouts with this portable open-source freeware.

The WinPenPack project focuses on making popular open-source software portable, and X-Scribus is part of their X-Software Collection of portable open-source freeware. It's a fully portable version of Scribus, the page layout software. Like the installed version, X-Scribus supports professional standards and top-quality features, including CMYK, ICC, and spot color and commercial-grade PDFs.

X-Scribus opens with its main interface as well as its tabbed New Document dialog, which also lets you open existing and recent documents as well as quickly configure new documents with up to four folds. We created a basic, letter-size, single-page document, which opened in a compact, expandable, customizable dialog with a ruled main window and a familiar suite of icons and menus. We quickly dragged and dropped numerous items into our blank layout, including text and image frames, tables, and various shapes; we were even able to draw freehand lines using both the mouse and a pen tablet. Once we'd added our elements, it was a simple matter to drag them into place or pull and tug them into the right size and shape. You can save documents as files or as templates that you can reuse. We saved and reopened the file and resaved it using the PDF tool, which offers a surprisingly complete set of options, and then opened it in Adobe Reader. We enjoyed playing with some of the other tools, such as the ability to link text frames, execute scripts, generate bar codes, and select colors on a color wheel. The Allow Docking tool lets you select which side of the document to link to, or you can choose Floating Orientation in the horizontal or vertical axis, while the manage Image tool lets you select a path for images. There's even a tool that will automatically generate a Table of Contents.

At 41.55MB, X-Scribus is a bit larger than the average portable app, but not too big for most portable storage media. It's an amazingly complete, efficient, intuitive page layout tool that is easy enough for novices to master quickly yet flexible enough for design professionals.

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