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[Axiom-developer] [#210 Pamphlet support on MathAction] [#210 Pamphlet s

From: michel.lavaud
Subject: [Axiom-developer] [#210 Pamphlet support on MathAction] [#210 Pamphlet support on MathAction] [#210 Pamphlet support on MathAction] Math on the web
Date: Fri, 07 Oct 2005 21:37:07 -0500

On 7 Oct 2005 at 14:15, C Y wrote:

> I must be misunderstanding something - AFAIK pdf isn't proprietary.
> It's fully documented, and there is no restriction on creating either
> viewers or generaters for it.  In what sense it is more or less
> proprietary than postscript or dvi or mathml?

The pdf format is proprietary _and_ fully documented  -  as is the Word format. 
what Microsoft did, Adobe can do it : that is, he can decide some day to change 
pdf format in a way incompatible with previous versions (as MS did for Word  - 
enhance performances, or increase his income or whatever reason), users cannot 
anything against that. And if the modifications are not strictly upward 
compatible with 
preceding ones,  some formulas included in scientific articles could become 
without the author being aware of it, and without the reader being able to 
notice it :for 
texts, the reader can easily detect and correct errors while reading, but this 
impossible for formulas, in general.This could be as catastrophic for science 
as the 
burning of Alexandria's library.

Unfortunately, many scientists are not aware of this problem with pdf. Even 
TeX developers, many promote replacing dvi by pdf. Pdf  is acceptable for 
documents, but not (IMHO) for scientific documents : only exactness certified 
very long periods of time ought to be taken into consideration for science. It 
does not 
seem reasonable to rely on  proprietary formats such as Word or pdf and cross 
fingers, hoping they won't do something wrong. Because some day, they will :-(

The most critical community against pdf lately were not scientists but lawyers, 
because of Enron and other affairs, that generated "tons" of electronic 
and they fear that these documents could become unreadable in the long term. 
problem of defining an A-pdf format (Archival-pdf) was resurrected on this 
For scientists, I think it would be important that everybody realize the 
problem, before 
our libraries of pdf documents "burn".  The dvi format is completely safe 
because it is 
frozen and very simple, and is very well suited because it has been devised for 

Best wishes,

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