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Why PDF doesn't suck: Guide for LaTeX users

By The Writer in Technology
Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 03:06:42 PM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)

I thought I knew all there was to know about making PDF's from LaTeX documents. And from the little I do know, I incorrectly concluded that PDF's suck.

Well, here's a little eye-opener for you LaTeX fans out there. Some day, you might want to show off LaTeX's superior formatting to people who only know how to view PDF's. And you'll want to know this so that you don't make a fool of yourself (and give them a bad impression of LaTeX).

My First (Mistaken) Impression: PDF sucks

I have always been a LaTeX fan ever since I read Leslie Lamport's excellent LaTeX2e book. Emphasizing logical structure rather than visual formatting, it gives great power to the learned user. Its professional quality output is praised by scientific and academic journals all over the world. Well, LaTeX and the underlying TeX engine was developed in the days when PostScript was prevalent. Although its standard output format was DVI, LaTeX documents mostly come as PostScript because that is the most widely-accepted portable printer-friendly format then.

And then, along came PDF, the funky new format published by Adobe. My initial experiences with PDF were less than pleasant. Being a LaTeX fan, I tried my hand at creating some PDF's of my LaTeX documents. And guess what -- most of it doesn't show up properly in earlier versions of Acrobat Reader, sometimes it even crashes Acrobat Reader -- and when it does show up correctly (in later versions of Acrobat Reader), the font looks smudged, blurred, pixelated, and just plain unreadable. Furthermore, when I view the original PostScript on GSView, it looks just great.

So, my initial reaction was, oh well, PDF can't handle LaTeX's superior formatting. It sucks!

And so I thought, until one day, I read this page.

The Problem

The problem with converting LaTeX-produced PS into PDF, is that the usual program used to perform the initial conversion to PostScript, dvips, simply calls METAFONT (LaTeX's font engine) to rasterize your document's fonts at 300dpi, and then loads the bitmapped results into the PS file. This is known as a Type 3 font, which will also get propagated into the PDF once you convert the PostScript.

The problem with Type 3 fonts is that Acrobat Reader does not handle it in a sane way. Unlike other utilities (like GSView, which apparently does a good job at scaling bitmapped fonts), Acrobat Reader was not designed to handle Type 3 fonts well, and it does a minimal, unreadable job at scaling these 300dpi bitmapped fonts (and does so at turtle-crawling speeds, too).

This may seem like PDF's fault, but it really isn't. The real problem comes from dvips embedding type 3 fonts in the PostScript. Type 3 fonts aren't particularly great either -- although 300dpi is good for printing on low-end printers, high-end printers with 600dpi resolution won't show any difference with these fonts, because the bitmaps are 300dpi. Type 1 fonts, however, are infinitely scalable fonts; and there are type 1 fonts that you can use with LaTeX!

The Solution

To create from a LaTeX document a PDF that doesn't suck, what you need is to force dvips to embed Type 1 fonts in the PostScript, and not use any type 3 fonts at all.

In order to do this, you need to make sure that you have installed the Type 1 versions of all the fonts that you used in your document. Usually, if you don't mind using Times or one of the other common fonts, all it takes is to do something like \usepackage{times} which will cause LaTeX to typeset your document in the Times font. Since there is only a Type 1 version of Times, dvips will always produce Type 1 fonts in the PostScript.

But, if you're like me, and you just must use the default Computer Modern font, you'll need to install the Type 1 version of the CM font. After you install these fonts, you'll need to configure dvips to not use Type 3 fonts. Here are the instructions for doing this. You may also want to consult the documentation for your particular LaTeX distribution -- it may have a slightly different mechanism for adding new Type 1 fonts. Now, run dvips again to produce a PostScript, convert it to PDF using Distiller or any of the other PDF writing tools, and check it out on Acrobat Reader. It should look great now.

But... if you're like me (again), you've used some of the more esoteric features of LaTeX, such as diacritics, dotless i's and j's, etc.. If your document uses these symbols, you may find that your PDF still looks butt-ugly. That's because these diacritics are from the EC (European Common) font, and the Type 1 CM fonts don't include these characters. What you need at this point, is to google for "cm-super" (or search for it on CTAN). cm-super is a Type 1 font that includes all the EC characters missing from the default type 1 CM fonts. Install this font, and configure dvips accordingly.


If for some reason your PDF refuses to show up with clear, readable fonts, go to the Info menu in Acrobat Reader, and look up exactly what fonts are being used by your PDF file. You may find that there are still some Type 3 fonts in there. If you're lucky, it may display the name of the font, in which case you should search for the Type 1 versions of the font and install it.

But sometimes, Acrobat Reader just uses a non-descript single- or double-letter designation for the font, which is no help in identifying what it is.

One way to find out what font it is, if your distribution of LaTeX supports it, is to run dvips -Ppdf. This will force dvips to not use any Type 3 fonts; if there are any missing Type 1 fonts, it will try to invoke METAFONT (mf on the command-line) with a very high magnification factor. Most likely, METAFONT will get confused, and will just print an error message and do nothing. Examine the line that calls mf, and you should see the name of the font -- e.g., ecbx71, etc.. Once you identified the mystery fonts, google for them, and install the appropriate Type 1 fonts.


Armed with this array of Type 1 fonts, you should now be able to produce PostScript that only contains type 1 fonts. Distiller, or any of the other PDF-writing software, should now be able to create a PDF of your original document that looks decent, and is actually readable on-screen using Acrobat Reader.

Now you can show off LaTeX's beautiful output to those PDF-only people!


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Best output file format for LaTeX documents:
o PS (long live PostScript!) 30%
o DVI 14%
o PDF 38%
o plain text 7%
o plain TeX... 4%
o MS Word document 5%

Votes: 70
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Google
o this page
o Type 1 version of the CM font.
o instructio ns for doing this
o google
o Also by The Writer

Display: Sort:
Why PDF doesn't suck: Guide for LaTeX users | 114 comments (92 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
Ah ha! (3.00 / 6) (#12)
by ka9dgx on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 12:01:33 PM EST

I always wondered why online scientific articles looked like shit, now I know. Thanks for solving a puzzle for me.

Next question, what can I do about it if I have the PDF file in hand, and want to be able to read it without losing my vision?


stop masturbating (nt) (1.50 / 18) (#13)
by tps12 on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 12:07:54 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Viewing bad PDF's (4.00 / 2) (#22)
by The Writer on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 01:05:29 PM EST

Hmm, you're out of luck if the PDF already has type 3 fonts. Acrobat Reader, as far as I know, just doesn't display type 3 fonts in a sane way.

The easiest way out is probably just to print the document (300dpi bitmapped fonts will print just fine, even if Acrobat Reader makes a mess of them on the screen) and read the dead-tree doc.

Another possible solution, if you don't want to kill trees, might be to convert the PDF to PS and use GSView -- at least GSView does a decent job at scaling bitmapped fonts. Before I found out about this font business, I was regularly using GSView to view my LaTeX docs on a windows machine (at home I just use xdvi), and it's very clean and readable.


[ Parent ]

GSView can read PDF files too. (4.50 / 2) (#36)
by uhoreg on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 03:30:49 PM EST

(At least it better be able to. GhostScript groks PDF.) No need to convert from PDF to PS.

[ Parent ]
Wow, you're right! (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by The Writer on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 03:40:43 PM EST

Why didn't I think of this before :-) GSView does view PDF. And it displays Type 3 fonts much better, too. However, it still produces the best quality with PostScript, it seems. Comparing the PS and PDF versions of my document on GSView, it seems that GSView has some rendering imperfections on the PDF. But Acrobat Reader seems to display the PDF as good as GSView displays the PS.


[ Parent ]

on linux, use gv (4.00 / 1) (#101)
by martingale on Fri Jun 07, 2002 at 04:01:56 AM EST

I find the user interface for GV to be way better than either GSview (sucks) or Acroread (sucks squared). The only reason I bother with Acrobat is their new cooltype font rendering tech. Makes a big difference on my LCD screen. Anyone know if gs uses the subpixel rendering (aka cooltype) that's available on XFree86 4.2? I'm on Debian and it's going to take a while until I get to apt-get 4.2

[ Parent ]
gv (5.00 / 1) (#105)
by The Writer on Fri Jun 07, 2002 at 09:45:55 AM EST

Oh, of course I use gv on Linux. Its interface is way superior to Acrobat Reader (even the Windows version of AR, IMNSHO). On Windows, GSView is way better than Acrobat Reader, so that's what I use at work.

Oh, and about XF 4.2 ... I'm a Debian user too, and if I can get my hands on 4.2 debs, I'd be so happy :-)

[ Parent ]

subpixel is available in 4.1 (5.00 / 1) (#106)
by uhoreg on Fri Jun 07, 2002 at 06:30:35 PM EST

XFree86 4.1 has subpixel rendering. Just add this to your /etc/X11/XftConfig:

match edit rgba=rgb;

(or bgr instead of rgb, depending on how your LCD lays out the colours)

AFAIK gs won't use XFree86's antialiasing for quite a while. For one thing, it's not portable (only available in XFree86). For another thing, they would pretty much have to rewrite a good chunk of it to translate PS text displaying functions to use XFree86's text displaying functions. This may not even be possible for all I know, due to the fact that gs needs to display fonts which are defined within the document.

[ Parent ]

thanks, I'll try it over the weekend [n/t] (none / 0) (#107)
by martingale on Fri Jun 07, 2002 at 09:08:13 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Ghostscript is just a PostScript interpreter... (4.50 / 2) (#40)
by tola on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 03:44:11 PM EST

But the coolest thing about Ghostscript is that there is a program written in PostScript that will render PDF.  Look though the PS files that come with Ghostscript for the PDF viewer; it is really quite amazing.

[ Parent ]
Does it work with Truetype fonts? (n/t) (3.75 / 4) (#17)
by gordonjcp on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 12:35:48 PM EST

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.

heathen@#!& (3.00 / 6) (#30)
by mikpos on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 02:14:27 PM EST

If you want your document to look like utter shite, by all means, go ahead and use truetype fonts. Truetype fonts are fine on a computer screen, but garbage on paper. Plus, are there any truetype fonts out there with sane support for digraphs? A document without digraphs can hardly be called a "document" at all.

[ Parent ]
They look ok to me... (2.66 / 3) (#48)
by gordonjcp on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 04:25:22 PM EST

... and since this article was about writing PDF's, truetype fonts would be entirely appropriate.

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll bore you rigid with fishing stories for the rest of your life.

[ Parent ]
What do you consider sane? (3.00 / 1) (#55)
by ghjm on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 05:48:35 PM EST

I can fire up Word for Windows and type "encyclopædia" in any of the standard TrueType fonts. There's even a keyboard shortcut for it. The digraphs for ae and oe are supported in upper and lower case.

But I can't see why this is such an important characteristic of all documents. Do you mean something else by "digraphs?" Like, are you really talking about kerning?


[ Parent ]

Ligatures? (4.00 / 2) (#56)
by The Writer on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 05:52:22 PM EST

Perhaps he meant 'ligatures'? Like the fi, ffi, fl, ffl, ligatures that TeX/LaTeX produce as single glyphs. I always found that an attractive feature of the CM fonts, but that's just me.

[ Parent ]

yes, sorry (3.50 / 2) (#58)
by mikpos on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 06:37:59 PM EST

Ligatures is what I meant. I haven't seen any TTF that do them.

In any case, HEATHEN@!&^#@!

[ Parent ]

TTF font ligatures (none / 0) (#113)
by zero-one on Sun Jun 23, 2002 at 03:49:30 PM EST

Some unicode TTF fonts do have ligatures but no(?) applications use them. For example, have a look at postions FB02 and FB03 of Times New Roman on a Windows NT box.

[ Parent ]
dvipdfm (4.75 / 12) (#18)
by dj51d on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 12:44:22 PM EST

Why convert from postscript to pdf? Using dvipdfm you can convert directly from dvi to pdf, and it uses type 1 fonts by default. I've never had a problem with the quality of output from dvipdfm.

Good point (4.00 / 2) (#21)
by The Writer on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 01:00:07 PM EST

I've never actually used dvipdfm. Thanks, I'll check it out :-)

Nevertheless, I was using some non-standard fonts and didn't have the type 1 equivalents installed, so I had to figure all this out and search for the Type 1 version of the fonts anyway. Just thought I might save LaTeX users a few headaches/frustrations when they step for the first time into the world of PDF conversion.

[ Parent ]

dvipdfm (4.00 / 3) (#29)
by isham on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 02:02:02 PM EST

I'd have to agree. I've been less than impressed with the quality of dvipdf, while dvipdfm works quite well, and without having to generate a postscript file first.

[ Parent ]
Yep. And also... (5.00 / 2) (#41)
by BlueGlass on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 03:45:06 PM EST

...dvipdfm also handles the hypertex package much better than other methods I've used. It's really nice having index, TOC, references, etc all linked up properly.in the pdf.

People think I spend hours producing all those nicely formatted & linked pdf's... good for the reputation, I guess.

[ Parent ]

dvipdfm rocks! (none / 0) (#111)
by Anonymous Brave on Thu Jun 13, 2002 at 06:23:30 PM EST

I've tried several methods to create PDFs from LaTeX2e, as nowadays only geeks now what a PS document is. dvipdfm is definitely the way to go with it's superb handling of vector graphics (saved as PDF from Visio), images (JPEG or PNG), table of documents, document info, thumbnails and hyper-linking. Excelent.
correspondente.net - reflectir e discutir em portuguÍs
[ Parent ]
Or use pdfLaTeX instead and be done. [n/t] (4.40 / 5) (#19)
by hesk on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 12:45:54 PM EST

Not really (3.50 / 2) (#23)
by The Writer on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 01:09:29 PM EST

I did use pdflatex, and still got the same old Type 3 fonts. Perhaps my pdflatex isn't setup correctly. I know my dvips wasn't -- I already had some Type 1 fonts installed (though not all--I still had to go hunting for Type 1's of some of the esoteric fonts I was using), but dvips wasn't setup to use them.

[ Parent ]

Depends on Distribution (3.66 / 3) (#28)
by Torako on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 02:00:19 PM EST

Actually, LaTeX and TeX are quite hairy to configure manually. I use MikTeX on Windows XP and TeTeX on FreeBSD and they both have a sane PDFLaTeX setup that does work.

I never had the problems described in the article, but still, I think it's a good HowTo.

[ Parent ]

Interesting (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by The Writer on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 03:10:52 PM EST

I use TeTeX too, and my configuration still produces PDF's with Type 3 font by default. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I was using non-standard Metafont'd fonts without installing type 1 equivalents?

[ Parent ]

or VTeX (3.50 / 4) (#35)
by theElectron on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 03:12:56 PM EST

Actually you should use VTeX. What's more "In contrast to pdfTeX, VTeX supports inclusion of PostScript images (EPS), as well as inline PostScript programming, even when generating PDF output. Packages such as PStricks, PSfrag and draftcopy can be used with VTeX."

Join the NRA!
[ Parent ]
Re: VTeX (none / 0) (#89)
by Vs on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 04:22:00 PM EST

VTeX is very slow IMO (well, it was about 6 month ago).

And, it no longer works in FreeBSD's Linuxulator or on MacOS X (yes, we use a Mac when doing presentations on conferences etc., and most times we've got some editing to do right down to the end).

Currently, most people at our department use "prosper".
Where are the immoderate submissions?
[ Parent ]

including eps (5.00 / 1) (#99)
by martingale on Fri Jun 07, 2002 at 03:41:22 AM EST

I usually convert my eps files to pdf in the shell and using the graphicx package, I simply write \includegraphics{filename}, where filename is *without* the filename extension. Then I can run latex or pdflatex and it automatically chooses the right file. You can even automate the eps to pdf conversion with the package epstopdf, but I find it's no hassle at all.

[ Parent ]
Don't care. PDF still sucks. (3.75 / 8) (#32)
by NFW on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 02:30:03 PM EST

Sucks mightily, and gracefully importing documents created with LaTeX won't change that one bit.

If something is intended for print alone, you gotta do what you gotta do. I guess PDF, LaTeX, DVI, PostScript, etc, are not bad tools, but they sure do get abused. What really sucks is viewing stuff on a screen that was packaged for a printer.

Note to companies whose web sites consist largely of PDFed sales brochures: that's crap. If you have competitors, I will make every effort to find and patronize them.

(pause for deep breath)

I feel much better now. Decent article. +1 SP.

Got birds?

Go right ahead. (4.66 / 3) (#60)
by regeya on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 08:04:53 PM EST

If you have competitors, I will make every effort to find and patronize them.

Please do. I'm not sure the competition would appreciate it, though.

They might, however, enjoy your patronage.

All kidding aside: for your narrow range of examples, yes, PDF sucks. I can't imagine the modern print world without PDF, though, unless something vastly better came along. And some stupid half-witted XML-based scheme or saying "just use HTML" or "just use ASCII" doesn't cut it, buckfart. Oh, no indeedy. PDFs are generally compact enough to email (unlike their EPSed equivalents) and products such as Distiller are usually intelligent enough to, say, embed fonts necessary for a print ad to render correctly.

Do that with your steenking only-five-people-use-this-format-but-it's-XML-so-it's-as-if-it-were-created-by-J ehovah XML files

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

It's the abuse that gets me. (none / 0) (#65)
by NFW on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 01:34:51 AM EST

D'oh. What's the verb for "give patronage?" (Or should I say, "perform patronage?" Or should I say... nevermind, I'm just going downhill now). That's an honest question by the way.

Having had nothing to do with the print world since editing my college paper years ago, that "narrow range of examples" represents nearly all of what I've seen PDF used for.

Like I said, if you're targeting hardcopy, do whatever. It's <a href="http://www.whatever.net/some.pdf">stuff like this</a> that makes me raise a middle finger in the general direction of pinheaded webmasters on a weekly basis.

Got birds?

[ Parent ]

patronize (n/t) (4.33 / 3) (#79)
by nmx on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 11:10:44 AM EST

"Well kids, you tried your best, and you failed. The lesson is, never try."
[ Parent ]
double d'oh (none / 0) (#86)
by NFW on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 02:56:23 PM EST

OK, so I got off my proverbial ass and checked a dictionary:

Main Entry: pa∑tron∑ize
Pronunciation: 'pA-tr&-"nIz, 'pa-
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): -ized; -iz∑ing
Date: 1589
1 : to act as patron of : provide aid or support for
2 : to adopt an air of condescension toward : treat haughtily or coolly
3 : to be a frequent or regular customer or client of

Got birds?

[ Parent ]

Hey, look folks. (5.00 / 1) (#92)
by regeya on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 06:31:41 PM EST

Someone pointed out my error, and I changed my rating. You can stop with the "retalitory" ratings now. :-D

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Understood. (none / 0) (#84)
by regeya on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 02:50:26 PM EST

And I agree, using PDFs rather than creating real online content is stupid and lazy, and you shouldn't do business with anyone like that, because, as far as I'm concerned, a lazy sales staff is usually indicative of an even lazier company.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Regeya... (none / 0) (#85)
by ti dave on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 02:56:00 PM EST

nmx is correct. The verb he was seeking *is* patronize.
"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
Hey! (5.00 / 1) (#91)
by regeya on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 06:30:00 PM EST

Thanks for patronizing me! :-D

Hehe . . . seriously, because of your comment, I searched out a Webster's dictionary published in 1940, and there was nothing mentioned about treating anyone in a condescending manner; just definitions about patronage. My bad. I'm so queer sometimes.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

gzip eps! (none / 0) (#100)
by martingale on Fri Jun 07, 2002 at 03:48:53 AM EST

what, you don't gzip eps files when sending them through email? You nuts? :-)

I find that quite a few gzipped eps files are actually slightly smaller than the pdf equivalents. And if you bzip2'em, it's probably even smaller. Shows that Adobe's idea of incorporating compression into the file format isn't the best one they've had.

[ Parent ]

VTeX (4.00 / 4) (#33)
by theElectron on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 03:10:11 PM EST

If you don't want to screw around with teTex or the like, you might try VTeX. It's a commercial product that is free for Linux/x86 (pretty nice of them, huh?). Its primary output is PDF files (no .dvi .ps etc.) and they always looks great.

Join the NRA!
pdf sucks anyway you put it! (1.83 / 6) (#37)
by dinu on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 03:37:16 PM EST

What is wrong with ASCII? :)

"Real" glyphs, that's what. (3.75 / 4) (#42)
by The Writer on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 03:47:47 PM EST

ASCII is fine when you're typing in English. It starts to stretch a bit when you start typing in common European languages, which require certain diacritics. It starts to fall apart when you need non-European characters. Yes, yes, I know there's Unicode and UTF8 and what-not. Show me a commonly-available, fully Unicode-compliant viewer that displays multiple diacritics on a single character correctly, and I'll give you a break.

One has no choice but to use LaTeX when one needs multiple, non-standard diacritics on letters, positioned in non-standard places that Unicode does not support. Yes I know, this is stretching it to the extreme. But I happen to actually need the ability to do this.

And let's not even begin to talk about math mode...

[ Parent ]

proprietary (1.50 / 2) (#43)
by dinu on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 03:58:40 PM EST

Maybe we should talk about Skyralov?

[ Parent ]
huh? (2.50 / 2) (#45)
by The Writer on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 04:01:55 PM EST

I'm not sure I get your point. LaTeX is not proprietary.

I must be missing something here.

[ Parent ]

sorry m8 (2.00 / 2) (#47)
by dinu on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 04:07:17 PM EST

sorry m8. I missunderstood you and I was thinking PDF. LaTex is decent.

[ Parent ]
PDF (none / 0) (#66)
by ubernostrum on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 02:16:58 AM EST

Isn't really proprietary either...well, it is, but you dont' need Acrobat Reader to view PDFs and you don't need Adobe software to make them (ps2pdf, for example)

You cooin' with my bird?
[ Parent ]

Full spec available (5.00 / 1) (#82)
by Ian Clelland on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 12:37:30 PM EST

It's fairly open, too, at least as far as proprietary standards go.

[ Parent ]
BTW (2.00 / 3) (#46)
by dinu on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 04:05:06 PM EST

IETF is still publishing RFC in ASCII format (including graphics :)). I am more interested in the actual content than in the presentation, and I like it not to need special readers to get the info which I still understand even it does not have my native language characters. And another thing is that is space efficient. So ASCII still rulez. Come with somethig non propritary, generally accepted, implemeted on all platforms, space efficient and we'll have somting to talk about.

[ Parent ]
Generally accepted solution (3.80 / 5) (#52)
by The Writer on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 05:25:31 PM EST

I am more interested in the actual content than in the presentation, and I like it not to need special readers to get the info which I still understand even it does not have my native language characters.

I totally agree. However, there are times when you just need to have native language characters, or at least, a way to compose them. I mean, if you're writing a document about, say, Mandarin, and you have to use ASCII to somehow describe which character you're talking about -- that's a pain to read and write. And, it's a lot less space-efficient than having a native representation in, say, Unicode. For example, imagine reading a Chinese novel in ASCII that goes shang4 hai3 wang2 ... (and not even that, because each phonemic syllable may correspond to several different written characters -- you'll have to convey that information somehow, and that not only adds to the space-inefficiency, but also makes it quite unreadable).

So yes, a generally-accepted solution available for all platforms is the answer. Unicode with the UTF8 encoding looks promising on this front; however, it is not sufficiently widespread yet, and many normal text editors/viewers still can't handle parts of it correctly. So we will have to wait for full Unicode adoption before we truly have a plain text format that is adequate for all needs.

(And on the note of "special readers" -- they are special readers only because they are not yet universally adopted. Plain text editors and viewers are in a sense "special readers" too, because they turn groups of 8 binary digits into letters and characters that a human can scan easily. To be truly "non-special", we'd have to read binary digits... But we don't consider plain text editors / viewers "special" because they are universally available, and ASCII is the de facto universal standard for plain text encoding. If Unicode can acquire the same status and support as ASCII, we will not regard Unicode readers as "special", either.)

[ Parent ]

Just out of curiosity ... (none / 0) (#78)
by a2800276 on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 11:10:32 AM EST

... I'd be interested in knowing what kind of documents require putting multiple diacritics in non-standard places over glyps?

[ Parent ]
Multiple diacritics (none / 0) (#81)
by The Writer on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 11:53:02 AM EST

... I'd be interested in knowing what kind of documents require putting multiple diacritics in non-standard places over glyps?

Documents that require the transcription of languages not included in Unicode.

[ Parent ]

PCL (2.00 / 1) (#38)
by awgsilyari on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 03:38:29 PM EST

What about PCL?

Please direct SPAM to john@neuralnw.com
TrollTech's QT and PS (3.00 / 1) (#44)
by tzanger on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 04:00:19 PM EST

I was getting butt-ugly pdf files out of my KDE apps until I changed src/kernel/qpsprinter.cpp to read #define Q_PRINTER_USE_TYPE42 instead of the default #undef Q_PRINTER_USE_TYPE42 in the QT source tree.

I've never understood why they default to disallowing TrueType fonts in the PS output. It works fine and it looks beautiful onscreen and in print.

XML (2.00 / 8) (#49)
by axxackall on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 04:42:31 PM EST

XML is the best format - you don't worry about syntax parsers and you translate it to any further format.

The best (at least good enough) semantic vocabulary for XML documents (documents in terms of human readable, human editable and printer printable documents) is the one from Open Office.

Make a translation from LaTeX to Open Office XML and OO users will get very good tools for mocking up - LyX and TeXmacs while LaTeX users will become more opened for communication with the rest of the world.

Make a translation back from OO to LaTeX and OO users will get very good printing/publishing platform, while LaTeX user again will become more opened for communication with the rest of the world.

XML is not a format (5.00 / 5) (#51)
by carbon on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 04:58:14 PM EST

XML is a system for creating formats. It doesn't describe anything but a syntax, and it's only useful if under the usage of a skilled document definition writer. XML is great for making interchangable, easily parsable, human readable, and otherwise very good formats, but it is not a format of any kind by itself (other then having an inherent heirarchial structure.)

Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
DocBook (3.00 / 1) (#53)
by The Writer on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 05:28:21 PM EST

I think the original poster might have in mind DocBook, which is an XML standard for documents. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there already was a DocBook-to-LaTeX convertor (and vice versa)...

[ Parent ]

No he really means it! (5.00 / 3) (#57)
by nedrichards on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 06:37:35 PM EST

No, I think he really means it. The OpenOffice.org XML File Format is freely available and openly published check it out and some clever things you can do with it at xml.openoffice.org. DocBook is cool as well though.

[ Parent ]
OpenOffice, yes (none / 0) (#70)
by axxackall on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 08:24:39 AM EST

Yes, I specificlly meant OpenOffice XML format. Although I agree that DocBook is better. However it is more complicated at the same time. I think DocBook will be added to OpenOffice at some point.

But I also mean XML as a format (I agree - syntax format) in general. Any format is good if it is XML, beacuase one can transfer one XML to another in a blink of eye. Well, sometime in few blinks of eye, i.e. DocBook with DSSSL :)

As for OpenOffice XML - it is important to support OpenOffice comunity as it's trying to survive in the competition with MS Office. The more users they [OO] have is the better for all OSS community. And the more LaTeX is communicating with OO is the better for both LaTeX and OO. That was my major point.

[ Parent ]

Dumb hype.... (5.00 / 1) (#72)
by sergio on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 09:16:39 AM EST

XML is for machines...

TeX/LaTeX is for humans.

Got it?

[ Parent ]

Agreed (4.50 / 2) (#75)
by The Writer on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 10:49:02 AM EST

XML proponents often forget that it is not a language designed to be easily handled by humans. It was designed to have a certain amount (read: extreme quantities) of redundancy, so that an automated processor can immediately tell if something went wrong. Automation is the key word here. XML and its related offspring, such as XSLT, are better processed by computer programs than by humans. Verbosity is the number one factor, to me, that prevents it from being usable in a sane way by humans. (If you've ever tried doing something non-trivial in XSLT you'll know what I mean.)

LaTeX, on the other hand, is designed to be easily typable by a human typist, and to be typable efficiently while maintaining maximal flexibility.

I'm not trying to downplay XML -- it is very useful for data interchange between divergent platforms and applications because of its self-descriptive nature. But for a human typist, you really want a more specialized format that is optimized for typesetting documents. (I've always been a firm believer in specialization of languages -- you need a general-purpose language for doing the general overhead stuff, but specialized tasks are best done by specialized languages.)

[ Parent ]

disagreed (3.00 / 1) (#87)
by axxackall on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 03:15:23 PM EST

XML was designed for easier reading/writing by both machines and humans. And the reality proves that it's very good for it. It's easy to verify its consistency. It's easy to create semantic extensions. It's easy to read/write in a simple text editor. And it's extreamly convinient to read/write in any XML-ready text editor.

TeX might be designed for human typing, but the reality shows that TeX stays only as an academic excercise. Write document in LyX and try to open it in TeXmacs. Or vice versa. It doesn't work. Compatibility is bad. So what? Am I limited just by a simple notepad? Too bad.

Generally, any format designed only for humans is bad, b/c humans are limited by a simple notepad in such case. A good format has to be deigned for both humans and machines as they have to work with that format together.

[ Parent ]

No (5.00 / 1) (#88)
by The Writer on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 04:00:39 PM EST

XML may be easy to read, but it's a pain to write. It's too verbose. Verbosity is a good thing when others are reading it (although that's arguable, too). But in the case of TeX/LaTeX, others don't read the input file that you type, but the nicely formatted output that comes out on the other end.

Correctly-written LaTeX input can be read and maintained by anyone who knows LaTeX. Now I don't know what LyX does with it -- or what TeXmacs expects the format to be. My guess is that both use and expect different input conventions. If so, that's a problem with LyX/TeXmacs, not with the LaTeX input format.

Some people will hate me for saying this, but in general, a plain text editor is your friend. So-called "friendly" interfaces, although they appear nice and pretty, often assume too much about the plain text format they're wrapping around, and as a result, they break when you use one with another interface that assumes differently. Eye candy ought to be reserved for the final product (i.e., the LaTeX output), where it belongs. People should just use a text editor with LaTeX, and learn how to do it properly.

[ Parent ]

Alternate reality? (5.00 / 1) (#93)
by phliar on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 07:19:33 PM EST

TeX might be designed for human typing, but the reality shows that TeX stays only as an academic excercise. Write document in LyX and try to open it in TeXmacs. Or vice versa. It doesn't work.
Which reality? My reality shows that TeX (actually LaTeX) is alive, well, and prospering. It is the only thing I use for typesetting, for instance.

My guess is that LyX and TeXmacs are some sort of WYSIWYG front-ends that generate LaTeX. Why do you need these silly front-ends? Just use a good text editor. LaTeX files are perfectly readable by humans, why interpose a fancy "pretty" wrapper?

I use emacs to edit LaTeX files. It has keystroke commands that will, for instance, insert a \begin{env} \end{env} pair and put the cursor between the two. It will also auto-indent and do syntax colouring if I want it to. Other people who might also have to edit such a file can use whatever editor they like.

LaTeX allows you to to put arbitrary TeX in the text of your document such that no other person can figure out what the hell is going on; but just because you can do this doesn't mean you should. If you need to extend LaTeX, define the appropriate environment or command in the preamble, with a human-readable name. (The right thing to do is to put it in a style.)

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Designed only for humans? (5.00 / 1) (#94)
by phliar on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 07:34:31 PM EST

Generally, any format designed only for humans is bad, b/c humans are limited by a simple notepad in such case.
I don't understand this statement. First, what do you mean by "format designed only for humans"? I think of natural languages (e.g. English) as designed only for humans; that makes it a pain to write a program that can understand it.

LaTeX is very easy to parse: it has nesting parentheses which are the "{" and "}" characters as well as \begin{foobar} \end{foobar}. Commands always start with a backslash, and their argument follows: e.g. \foo A or \bar{A}.

Lastly, what do you mean by "humans are limited by a simple notepad"? I assume you mean a text editor by "notepad." Why can we only use simple text editors for a format designed only for humans? Do you mean what I wrote in the first paragraph?

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

What in the world are you talking about? (none / 0) (#96)
by carbon on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 10:56:46 PM EST

But I also mean XML as a format (I agree - syntax format) in general. Any format is good if it is XML, beacuase one can transfer one XML to another in a blink of eye. Well, sometime in few blinks of eye, i.e. DocBook with DSSSL :)

This is total BS. XML describes the structure of a format, but the conceptual meaning of the format isn't described (nor can it be, really). You cannot convert any XML document to any other, unless there's a conversion system to handle the fact that the two documents often have different concepts in some areas. For example, there's MathML and then there's a custom DTD for storing addy book entries. They're both XML, but they're not conceptually compatible, and so there's no way to convert between them.

Wasn't Dr. Claus the bad guy on Inspector Gadget? - dirvish
[ Parent ]
1995 anybody? (4.25 / 4) (#50)
by arthurpsmith on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 04:42:45 PM EST

None of this is exactly new... We're one of the largest users of LaTeX anywhere (over 15,000 latex files received and processed every year) and we've been producing PDF's directly from it using Type-1 fonts for at least the last 6 years. Why the teTeX etc. installations haven't switched to using the freely available Type 1's as the default is a mystery to me - it would make a lot of documents look a lot nicer and really take advantage of what TeX can do.

Energy - our most critical problem; the solution may be in space.

General awareness (4.00 / 2) (#54)
by The Writer on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 05:33:12 PM EST

I'm not sure what's the percentage of LaTeX users that are actively aware of these font issues. I know I'm not, until recently; and I have been using LaTeX for a very long time. A lot of people I know who use LaTeX don't seem to be aware of these issues either.

This is part of the reason I wrote this article --- to help spread awareness of these font issues to other LaTeX users. I know that this can't be a very recent discovery, as one could easily tell if one checked the dates of some of the links I gave :-) Nevertheless, I think it helps to have one more awareness article to reach those LaTeX users who may not have known about this.

[ Parent ]

Agreed (5.00 / 1) (#73)
by arthurpsmith on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 09:50:03 AM EST

I think your article was a good reminder about the issues - I just hope it leads to an improvement in the defaults for dvips.

Energy - our most critical problem; the solution may be in space.

[ Parent ]
Editorial (2.50 / 2) (#59)
by Bnonn on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 07:31:19 PM EST

I didn't check this article in the queue, but "PDF's" is possessive. It means, "belonging to the PDF". If you're looking for the plural it's "PDFs".

Curious mistake coming from someone called "The Writer"...

Reply (none / 0) (#61)
by Fireklar on Wed Jun 05, 2002 at 10:23:51 PM EST

A perfect judge will read each work of wit
With the same spirit that its author writ;
Survey the whole, not seek slight faults to find
Where Nature moves, and Rapture warms the mind:
Nor lose, for that malignant dull delight,
The gen'rous pleasure to be charm'd with wit.
But in such lays as neither ebb nor flow,
Correctly cold, and regularly low,
That shunning faults one quiet tenor keep,
We cannot blame indeed--but we may sleep.
In Wit, as Nature, what affects our hearts
Is not th'exactness of peculiar parts;
'Tis not a lip or eye we beauty call,
But the joint force and full result of all.
Thus when we view some well proportion'd dome,
(The world's just wonder, and ev'n thine, O Rome!)
No single parts unequally surprise,
All comes united to th'admiring eyes;
No monstrous height, or breadth, or length, appear;
The whole at once is bold and regular.

Whoever thinks a faultless piece to see,
Thinks what n'er was, nor is, nor e'er shall be.
In every work regard the writer's end,
Since none can compass more than they intend;
And if the means be just, the conduct true,
Applause, in spite of trivial faults, is due.
As men of breeding, sometimes men of wit,
T'avoid great errors must the less commit;
Neglect the rules each verbal critic lays,
For not to know some trifles is a praise.
Most critics, fond of some subservient art,
Still make the whole depend upon a part:
They talk of Principles, but Notions prize,
And all to one lov'd folly sacrifice.

-Alexander Pope  (An Essay on Criticism

[ Parent ]

So... (none / 0) (#64)
by Bnonn on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 12:41:59 AM EST

...do you reply to all well-intentioned editorials like this? As you can see, I made no comment on the quality of the article in general. I have seen many a brilliant article with mistakes like the one I commented on. I was merely hoping to provide information that would help the author improve his work in the future, since he says he writes (and only writes) for kuro5hin.

Though my final sentence could be construed as snide, it was intended ironically. Chill.

Neet poem though. Quite elegant.

[ Parent ]

Either way is acceptable (5.00 / 1) (#83)
by asdf on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 02:25:57 PM EST

Either way is acceptable according to some style guides e.g. that of the Physical Review. See Section III, subsection B, point 4.

[ Parent ]
This be true... (none / 0) (#108)
by Bnonn on Sat Jun 08, 2002 at 12:22:17 AM EST

...for the immediate past. Currently the practice is being phased out for obvious reasons.

I'd give you a link but I'd like to think I'm not that anal. I just find apostrophes in acronyms to be annoying because they can cause confusion.

[ Parent ]

Apostrophes (5.00 / 1) (#109)
by The Writer on Sat Jun 08, 2002 at 08:59:22 AM EST

I used an apostrophe mainly because of ambiguity. Recent trends in computer-related buzzwords have annoying capitalization habits, and I'm just trying to distinguish the plural suffix 's' from an 's' that might actually be part of the acronym.

[ Parent ]

Acronyms (none / 0) (#114)
by werner on Sat Jul 06, 2002 at 12:56:33 PM EST

If we're gonna be correct about this, let's remember what PDF stands for. You should probably have said "PDF documents" or "PDF files" - after all, you were talking about multiple documents not multiple formats ;)

[ Parent ]
Excellent! (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by phliar on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 12:26:13 AM EST

Some of this I knew -- for instance about Type 3 fonts. Luckily I hated the look of Knuth's beloved CM* fonts, and I figured out how to make TeX use printer-resident Type 1 fonts (this was back in '91 or so, before NFSS -- the "new font selection scheme" which was finally included by default in LaTeX2e).

However, a lot of the special characters and diacriticals didn't show up correctly for me; fortunately this was not a problem for my dissertation since it was computer science and not math. It always bugged me though. Now, armed with the links you put in the article, I can tackle that problem again!

Another thing that pisses me off: many Linux distributions do a piss-poor job of installing TeX and LaTeX. Broken font metric files, printer config files etc. (You mention dvips -Ppdf -- this implies that there must be a config file config.pdf, and these files live in .../texmf/dvips/config/ so you can see what your installation has.)

Also, Y&Y have always had excellent hinted Type 1 fonts. If you really must have some special font and you can pay, they're for you.

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...

Diacritics (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by The Writer on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 08:02:54 AM EST

Diacritics have always worked fine for me, as long as I stick to simple, conventional uses of them. Probably just because they work best for the CM fonts which I happen to like :-) If diacritics aren't working out for you, you might want to try using the math mode diacritics --- they are more flexible and tend to be less prone to odd behaviour.

But when I need more unorthodox uses of diacritics, I just resort to LaTeX's box-making capabilities. Leslie Lamport is right when he says that just about any typesetting problem can be solved with the appropriate use of boxes. It's just a matter of figuring out how to calculate your reference points, and measuring your boxes. Once you pin that down, you can position anything almost anywhere.

And the nicest thing about this is that you can stick all this complex positioning stuff into a new command, and thereafter you can reuse it at will.

[ Parent ]

Bug-free too (4.83 / 6) (#63)
by phliar on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 12:34:38 AM EST

Oh, one other thing -- when you're showing off that beautifully typeset document, don't forget to mention that there are no bugs in TeX.

I also find the version numbering scheme Knuth came up with amusing, since it emphasises that you can never have perfection. (Even though TeX is the closest that any program has come -- we're up to version 3.14159, right? And what's Knuth's bug bounty up to?)

(Man, I still can't believe that people accept the crap that programs like MS-Word turn out and think that's good typesetting.)

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...

pdflatex (3.00 / 1) (#67)
by mjl on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 03:50:49 AM EST

i've been using pdflatex for a while, and it generates nice looking pdf's. does it do much the same things?

pdflatex already uses type-1 Fonts. (4.66 / 3) (#71)
by Ghost Shrew on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 08:34:24 AM EST

At least, according to this page. That's a link that I found incredibly useful for doing lots of PDF tricks, such as bookmarks and such. I had no trouble finding out how to do the PStricks and such, but PDF information is a little scarce.

Free tabletop RPG!! Grey Lotus

Missing fonts? (none / 0) (#77)
by The Writer on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 10:57:42 AM EST

I do recall trying pdflatex, but my LaTeX installation must've been misconfigured somehow; it still doesn't produce sane PDF's. Or perhaps it was because I was using non-standard fonts all along, and so it had to sneak in a few Type 3 fonts -- and Acrobat Reader for Linux seems to completely munge up all the fonts even if you have all Type 1 fonts except for one.

Ultimately, I suppose the problem is that METAFONT was designed to generate Type 3 fonts on the fly. In an ideal world, PDF readers would come equipped with a METAFONT engine, and PDFs would come with embedded METAFONT programs (i.e., fonts) that can be rasterized by the reader. However, that's not how things work today, so the next best solution is to have a METAFONT-to-Type1 convertor. If only somebody can automate something like that... even if it does a half-decent job, it'd save a LOT of font-related headaches when using LaTeX with PDFs.

[ Parent ]

maybe the cls files you use? (none / 0) (#98)
by martingale on Fri Jun 07, 2002 at 03:30:46 AM EST

I'm not a LaTeX hacker, but I haven't had a font problem with pdflatex ever (that's on older redhat, mandrake and now debian). I usually use the amsart documentclass, which is pretty standard. If you use a nonstandard documentclass, that might be the source of your font troubles.

[ Parent ]
Document class (none / 0) (#104)
by The Writer on Fri Jun 07, 2002 at 09:41:27 AM EST

I use the plain old article document class. It's pretty standard in my book, but perhaps that's why?

[ Parent ]

works great (5.00 / 2) (#110)
by bcrowell on Sun Jun 09, 2002 at 10:23:03 PM EST

I've been pretty happy with pdflatex. I wrote a book using it, and the only unpleasant things in the experience were unpleasant because of the basic design of TeX/LaTeX. I really don't understand why anybody would use all this crufty latex | dvips stuff on a new project if they wanted PDF output. (Some older projects might have been designed in a way that requires PostScript.) Also for reasons mysterious to me, a lot of open-source people have some kind of visceral aversion to PDF. Never mind that their document is 100 Mb in PS and only 15 in PDF, or that PS is non-portable, or that PS is more patent-encumbered than PDF. Many of them seem to have the impression that PDF is a proprietary format or that you can only create it with proprietary software. Then you hear the whining about how it's not an editable format; actually, because it's Turing-incomplete, it's easier to manipulate PDF using software than it is to manipulate PS. And anyway, it's a silly complaint, like bitching about how RPM isn't an editable format. If the author wants to make the document editable, s/he just has to provide the source code used to generate the PDF (LaTeX, DocBook, whatever...)

I had no trouble finding out how to do the PStricks and such, but PDF information is a little scarce.
Yeah, the pdftex documentation is not great, and also it isn't actively maintained, which is really a problem. There is, however, a pdftex mailing list, which is quite helpful. Another problem is that many TeX and Linux distributions have been including really really really old versions of pdflatex, which don't even work. You need the texlive distribution if you want to get a working pdftex (or you can track down a binary on TUG, but it's hard to find and hard to install).

Pdftex also has some unique features. The guy who wrote it did his thesis on high-quality typesetting where the margin is made to appear more optically straight than if you just line up the right edges of the characters. It looks preeeeety!

The Assayer - book reviews for the free-information renaissance
[ Parent ]

PDF and hyperlinks? Anyone? C'mon, someone? (3.00 / 1) (#74)
by BrodieBruce on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 10:38:02 AM EST


I do some part-time work for a computer science department, and I ended up learning LaTeX about a month ago since that's the defacto standard around here for making ps or pdf. However, there's one problem that I can't seem to find an answer to anywhere. Is it possible to embed hyperlinks (not hyper-references) within a pdf?

I have downloaded pdf documents which contain hyperlinks to other webpages, but I can never get these links to work. Regardless of whether I'm using acrobat reader (windows or unix), ghostview, or xpdf. The viewers all seem to regard the hyperlink as being regular text.

I have heard myths of the possibility of linking to other files from within a pdf. For example, let's say that I have a paragraph on how to spot memory leaks in C++, and then I want to distribute some example code for students to download. Is it possible to have an embedded hyperlink to the relevant code (assuming it's in a separate .cpp file on the server)?


\usepackage{hyperref} (5.00 / 1) (#80)
by jason on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 11:27:47 AM EST

For creating links, try hyperref. If included before graphicx, it'll also add appropriate triggers for image import according to the translator you're using. You get the most milage from pdfLaTeX, but TeX->PS->PDf can be made to work. Note you can also include the code as an annotation, a kind of sticky note (even yellow in Acrobat).

For using links, try those other buttons on your mouse. Or double-clicking. I can't recall which works on what platforms.

Jason, amazed people still have to work with borken TeX distributions...

[ Parent ]

no adobe ;) (1.50 / 2) (#76)
by rss on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 10:55:22 AM EST

support skylarov dump adobe ;)

It's actually 'Sklyarov' (none / 0) (#90)
by torokun on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 05:56:13 PM EST


[ Parent ]
pdf != adobe (5.00 / 1) (#97)
by drini on Fri Jun 07, 2002 at 12:07:26 AM EST

it's like saying: dump MS, don't use HTML, jsut because IE is the most widely used browser.

PDF is a really good format. And there are free viewers other than adobe on most platforms). On linux there's xpdf, gv and yes, there's also acroread.

The adobe fight was about the programmer showing how to break a lame password protection. But I tell you. I've been using and writing pdf documents with pdflatex for a long time and I don't have to rely on adobe programs
Math is the weapon
[ Parent ]

sorry pdf == adobe (none / 0) (#103)
by martingale on Fri Jun 07, 2002 at 04:24:27 AM EST

PDF is still a proprietary Adobe format, unlike HTML which isn't a proprietary MS IE format. The fact that Adobe give you a free beer viewer in no way makes the format safe against the future.

[ Parent ]
PDF (5.00 / 2) (#112)
by Graymalkin on Sun Jun 16, 2002 at 09:19:06 PM EST

The PDF format is not a proprietary format as you suggest. It is an open standard that anyone can get the reference book for and make some neat thing with. You can use an OSS library or Adobe's PDFLib or make your own. Some technologies used in the PDF format are covered by Adobe owned patents but if you look here: http://partners.adobe.com/asn/developer/legalnotices.html you'll see they allow use of those patents in a non-exclusive royalty free way. That means anyone can use the PDF reference material to make their own PDF viewers and translators. You can use some OSS library or PDFLib or write your own.

[ Parent ]
(LaTeX) Distributions (5.00 / 2) (#95)
by hry on Thu Jun 06, 2002 at 10:44:21 PM EST

To be onest I am surprised about this article. The pdf creation have been more or less settled years ago.
AFAIK AMS have bought type 1 CM (and other) fonts and then made them freely available years ago.
Unfortunately it is true that some distributions had them turned off by default.
The most notorious is tetex as included in redhat up to 7.2. Check:
for "type1_default=...".
Comment/uncomment as appropriate and rerun the script.
One should use the type 1 version everywhere. These fonts are of high quality and most important have the same metric as the original metafont ones. And thanks to AMS (American Mathematical Society) for releasing them.

Why PDF doesn't suck: Guide for LaTeX users | 114 comments (92 topical, 22 editorial, 0 hidden)
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