textbook-style opinions please

I have searched the forum for this but have not found anything that answers my question head-on. So here goes:

I am thinking of doing some instructional and testing type documents, such as you would find in a music fundamentals textbook. Approximately 75% verbiage and 25% musical examples, by amount of space consumed. It seems to me there are two basic approaches to this: 1. Create a Dorico document using lots of text frames around and between the musical examples (each in its own music frame). 2. Create a Word Document into which I import snippets created in Dorico and cut and pasted from there into the word doc.

Dorico users opinions please, as to which of these two approaches will work better. Or are there additional alternatives I haven’t considered?

Thanks in advance for your time.

–Len B

I think if it’s 75% text, 25% music, I would probably tackle that in a text-first application rather than in Dorico.

Yeah, this sounds like an InDesign project. Much easier at present to link text frames, especially (actually, that’s the only big one I can think of at the moment…).

Well, I can’t afford the $20 per month right now, but when I can I’ll certainly try InDesign. (Yes I know about the free trial.)

These days I use it daily, but when I only needed it infrequently, I actually liked InDesign’s monthly subscription model. Dip in, do the project, dip out.

Yes, but if you want to open your files at any point in the future, that’s another month’s payment.

Adobe is not the only fruit: Affinity Publisher, VivaDesigner, Scribus are just as capable; plus loads of other cheap or freebies that serve most needs.

Tell me more. I thought the verdict was that AP didn’t work well with imported PDFs?

Well, yes, that is the Achilles Heel of the Affinity suite. The latest beta is implementing “Passthrough” PDF, so that the data from placed PDF objects is passed directly through to the output stream (e.g. print, export); so it will export correctly, but they still do their crazy ‘interpretation’ of text on screen. Mostly, Dorico PDFs look ok, though ligatures (fi, fl, and Figurato symbols) sometimes don’t look right.

…which is probably 99% of the use case for any discussion of AP on this forum, I’d imagine.

If it can’t handle imported PDFs correctly, I wouldn’t call it “just as capable.” Not being argumentative. I’m genuinely interested in alternates to ID, but they have to be totally reliable.

There are workflows to circumvent Affinity’s problem - outline the text before importing; or convert to EPS, both of which can be automated.

If you do really just need to have better text controls and plonk some images in position, then I wouldn’t say that InDesign was essential. There are any number of apps that can do that.

Even the free (for mac) Pages does a great job with text and images on a budget.

Word is … well, sort of OK … except that everything done using the default options is easily recognizable as vaguely poor quality document design and typography (And boring fonts - “headings in Helvetica and body text in Times” for the billionth time!) Of course for internal documents in large companies, nobody cares much about that anyway.

Many things done by people who try to improve the defaults but aren’t designers may make the results even worse.

Whether that matters depends on your target readership, of course.

LaTex also comes to my mind, if you would be up for it.
Despite the obvious integration of lillypond (which I usually use for small essays with only few examples of music), the ability to reliably place graphics in the document is amazing.
Combined with the graphic slices function in dorico, just reexport your music examples and they will be exactly the same place, looking exactly the same (except for the changes of course) with no surprises on the next render of the document.
And the typography output is as beautiful as Doricos engraving.

LaTeX is the answer for everything, so long as you have already been using it for long enough to get up the learning curve. (I first used it on an original IMB PC with half a megabyte of RAM, when it took about a minute to render and print each page!)

But I wouldn’t recommend learning it for a “one off” task. If nothing else, the problem is documentation. There is a huge amount of it, but LaTeX itself is now 40 years old and it’s not always obvious which documentation is now 40 years out of date!

Would there be any advantage to LaTex over a DTP like InDesign? Is there anything that LaTex can do that InDesign can’t, or that it does better?

Chapters, TOC and source management come to my mind quickly.
Depends on how much it’s supposed to be a real „book“.
But I didn’t work a lot, so maybe I missed some features.

Meantime, how about some more encouraging of Affinity to smooth their PDF import/display in Publisher…? Anyone got a small sample/dummy PDF that shows the ‘problem’.? If it helps the cause, armed with some ammo I could download a Trial of Publisher, join their forum and do some gentle nudging from there… :wink:

Are those things LaTex does better? Or vice versa? I’ve found that InDesign can certainly do those things well.

I myself have been very vocal, submitted loads of PDFs; sent PMs to Staff, asking for an explanation of the benefits of the curious path they’ve chosen; and used weapons-grade sarcasm on the main board. There are plenty of other people doing similarly (a lot of people with Music PDFs, interestingly).

Oh - Ok, I hadn’t realised…