Is desktop publishing possible without Microsoft Office?

In an article published last year, reviewing the field, Newsforge wrote that publishing has been "cracked wide open" by open source tools. I wouldn’t go nearly that far.

desktop publishing bookDear Bloggie:

I've published a few books in the past 15 years, and am now planning
to devote more and more time to a publishing project in the next few
years.

In the past I've produced my books on a PC with a variety of
software, but the last one I produced fully in OpenOffice.org, more to
prove a point than to recommend it to the next person - which I
wouldn't.

My books are on spirituality, but some of them have some
surprisingly sophisticated graphical needs, and also complex layouts,
such as a parallel translation of the Gospel according to Mark. What's
the status with open source solutions in this area? I was going to
switch to Mac, but I've been hearing some good things... Obviously
costs are important so free software would be very attactive.

RIP'd in NYC

Dear RIP'd in NYC:

Gee, where do I start? Inkscape is a nice little vector graphics engine. Adobe has made some of its libraries open source

But since you’re really talking about what used to be called "desktop publishing" here, might I recommend Scribus?  It’s a Linux program, they just finished release 1.3, and here’s a review.

In an article published last year, reviewing the field, Newsforge wrote that publishing has been "cracked wide open" by open source tools. I wouldn’t go nearly that far. But you really don’t need to buy Microsoft Office in order to deliver a manuscript anymore.

Let's see what Paul has to say.

I use FrameMaker on Solaris for stuff that has to be print ready and the only feeling I
get when confronted with Microsoft Word is revulsion - in fact FrameMaker's spell checker offers "notepad" as the replacement for MS Word, but I think they exaggerate Word's real value.

In terms of open source prepub, there is Scribus of which I've heard both positive and negative reports, and I've never used myself.

There's another way to go, if you have the technical ability:

The approach that may make the most sense for (pre)RIP'd is to invest in a little (ok, rather a lot) of learning and go with TeX. TeX will do everything you want, and do it extremely well. There are lots of TeX resources on the web and a number of "user friendly" editing frontends like kile.

TeX is largely OS independent (use Wintel now, get a Mac next year), works with just about any decent printer, and has extensions that let it produce ready to RIP files.

I've used TeX and it's great, but I use (urp) vi, and haven't tried any of the frontends - Kile, at least, focuses on KDE for Linux and SPARC so there's probably something for RIP'd there. If nothing else he could try it and write maybe write a review for us?

(Hint, hint.)