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Re: current thoughts on PDF back end

From: Michael Piotrowski
Subject: Re: current thoughts on PDF back end
Date: 14 May 2001 14:50:17 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.090003 (Oort Gnus v0.03) XEmacs/21.1 (Bryce Canyon)

address@hidden writes:


> I say we fix the PDF back end and drop PS support completely. PS
> is old-fashioned, dangerous and bloated. To turn PS into PDF, a
> full-fledged PS interpreter is required. Making PS out of PDF
> requires only a (relatively) simple tool.
> Need graphics? Use ps2pdf to turn your EPS files into EPDF files
> (if such a thing exists) and make Lout support those.

In my opinion, having to convert you figures is as annoying as having
to convert your document.  But I wouldn't object to dropping the
PostScript backend if I can include TIFF and JPEG graphics, and if
xfig can directly output PDF.  What I need to work productively is
either an all-PostScript or an all-PDF workflow.  I don't care which
one it is, as long as it works.

> Want to print your document? Use pdf2ps to convert it. Use
> Ghostscript's built-in PDF support. Use a printer which supports
> PDF natively. There are plenty of options.
> "So", might some of you think, "what do I care about a small
> footprint? If I need more space, I'll buy a cheap new 30+ GB
> drive."
> Well, some of us simply don't have the resources to buy a new
> drive. Also, laptops and laptop drives really don't come that
> cheap yet. Then there are those silly people who believe that
> "Smaller Is Better(TM)".
> </rant>

This is off-topic, of course, but I'd like to add this: I certainly
care about program size and speed. Nowadays, most people probably
wouldn't put up with the machine I'm using (HP 715/50, 96 MB RAM, 6.5
GB total disk space).  But one's gotta look in the right places to
find the real disk hogs, e.g.:

   $ du -ks /opt/gs /opt/netscape
   8652    /opt/gs
   13911   /opt/netscape

Ghostscript is a very useful, full-blown PostScript interpreter.
Netscape (and the size above is for Navigator 4.06, i.e., without Mail
and News!), on the other hand is... Ghostscript starts almost
instantaneously, even on my obsolete 50 MHz PA-7100 processor.
Netscape takes minutes.  So, I don't think it's fair to blame Lout's
PostScript backend ;-)

> In conclusion, dropping the PDF back end will greatly reduce
> Lout's advantage over other document formatting systems when it
> comes to size and speed.

I guess the problem are development resources.  To make the PDF
backend really useful, you would not only have to fix it, but you'd
have to add support for diagrams, graphics inclusion, and font
embedding (Type 1 and TrueType, including subsetting).  I'd be all for
it, but someone will have to write it, too...


Michael Piotrowski, M.A.                                  <address@hidden>

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