PDF (was publication of IASS papers on CDROM)

Kengo Harimoto kharimot at SAS.UPENN.EDU
Mon Dec 18 12:08:14 UTC 2000

[I subscribe to digest.  So, this post may not properly refer to the
origina I am referring.]

I understand the problem with PDF files produced TeX/LaTeX -> dvi file
-> PS file -> PDF is that even though PDF files can contain fonts, in
this case, they actually are a bitmap fonts (opposite to outline
fonts, such as PS or TrueType fonts).  Thus resulting undesirable
appearances viewd in or printed from the Acrobat Reader.

If the original dvi file or the PS file resulting produced by dvips
was specified to be printed on a certain printer, depending on the
resolution of the printer, TeX uses certain set of pk fonts, which are
bitmaps.  As long as the fonts included in the PDF file are outline
fonts (PS or TrueType fonts), it does not matter what resolution the
printer which the user is trying to print out has.  But, if a PDF file
was produced with certain printer resolution in mind, which,
unfortunately, is the case for most TeX documents, the resulting
printout from Acrobat Reader is not optimal if the printer's
resolution was different. (It seems Acrobat reader has trouble
properly renderging 600dpi bitmap fonts in 72/75/100/300/360 dpi.)

There are packages for LaTeX2e to use Type-1 fonts, and the above
problem may be solvable.  Still, there are a couple of problems:

1) Devanagari/Sanskrit fonts for TeX/LaTeX have been Metafont format,
which at the end of the day becomes pk files and included in the PDF
file as bitmaps.

2) I have yet to find a solution to use Type-1 fonts with Plain TeX.
Unfortunately, I believe quite a few indologists use edmac package by
Dominik Wujastyk to prepare critical editions, which is a macro package
for Plain TeX.  It does somehow work with LaTeX2e, but has a great
limitation.  Not everything or most of the things one expects from
LaTeX2e does not work in combination with edmac.

3) PDF files produced by dvi -> ps -> pdf method does not allow
search, etc. provided by Acrobat reader.

4) ps2pdf does not compress the resulting PDF file, because of
Unisys's licensing insistence on LZW compression scheme.  Thus huge
file even compared to the PS file.


Although I think PDF is the least evil format to publish
electronically at this moment, it is far from optimal.  (I do provide
PDF files to Mac/Windows users if I do not feel like killing trees or
spending time and money to go to a post office and pay a postage.)  In
my opinion, It is still too early to go for only electronic
publication.  I would ideal solution is to publish electronically AND
traditionally (on paper).  If PS or PDF files are produced anyway for
electronic publication, why not print couple of hundred copies and
bind them nicely for the readers (or especially libraries) who would
prefer to have paper copy?  Since paper version is a luxary, it could
be significantly more expensive than electronic version to recover the
cost of printing and binding.  I think it still nice for a publication
to have ISDN or LC number as a book, not as a CD-ROM.

CD-ROM may here to stay, but so do 5-inch or 8-inch floppies.  It is
not impossible to find an ancient machine to read them, but it is not
easy.  ISO-9660 format may not be changing, but file systems for the
OSes are likely to change.  (It is hard to think that MacOS will not
drop the support for HFS format at some point.)  Most of the OSes
perhaps will provide backward compatibilities for certain period of
time, but I am increasingly finding that ``backward compatibility'' is
a big lie.  In addition, who could be certain that removable media
will not desappear from desktop computers. (See for example, iMac
without floppy drive.)  The computer industry, I believe, is always
moving toward elimination of any moving parts, because they are the
most prone to mechanical trouble.  (Aren't companies trying to find an
alternative to hard-drives?)

So, I think it is not a good idea to go for all electric publication
yet.  Please note that I am not against publishing anything
electronically.  The optimal, at this stage of development of
technologies, is to publish in both ways.  And wasn't that the point
of the first post on this issue?


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