Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Graphics Software

Before PDF: John Warnock's 'Camelot' 214

Posted by timothy
from the quest-for-the-holy-grail dept.
Karl De Abrew writes: "In the Spring of 1991 Dr. John Warnock wrote a paper he dubbed "Camelot" in which the Adobe Systems Co-founder and CEO laid out the foundation for what has become Acrobat/PDF. With the author's permission, Planet PDF is pleased to publish the full-text of that historic document." Of course, now it's 2002, and the dream of universal display / printing remains only partly realized; PDFs really have helped to narrow the gap between dream and reality, though.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Before PDF: John Warnock's 'Camelot'

Comments Filter:
  • by Choose Wisely (551927) on Friday January 18, 2002 @04:02AM (#2860734) Homepage
    Even as a Windows user, I'll be the first to admit that even a standard word processor like Word leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to creating a document that'll display correctly everywhere (even across different versions of Word). Adobe has done some excellent work with the PDF format, it's just a shame that it's another company-controlled format, though at least much better than the Word .doc!
    • Except that PDF is an open and published standard.

      Adobe however, does make the worlds best tools for authoring PDF from a variety of sources...
      • Adobe however, does make the worlds best tools for authoring PDF from a variety of sources...

        I don't know about that; ps2pdf13 makes far nicer screen-optimized documents (smaller too) than I could get Acrobat 4.06 to make under Win32.

    • by dzym (544085) on Friday January 18, 2002 @04:10AM (#2860760) Homepage Journal

      In my opinion, it isn't truly good until it can be freely converted back and forth into other usable, edit-able formats.

      Which, I note, thanks to the efforts of many, is a criteria that even Microsoft Word doc format is able to meet.

      • by Beautyon (214567) on Friday January 18, 2002 @05:14AM (#2860883) Homepage
        Acrobat Pro allows you to edit PDFs, and with Ghostscript, you can edit PDFs and strip the "security" from encrypted PDFs leaving you with the original, 100% editable file.

        PDFs are editable, you just need the right tools [ibmpcug.co.uk].
      • The point is that PDF is a document DISTRIBUTION/DISPLAY format! That's like saying a drawing in GIF/JPG/PNG format isn't good until it can be freely converted back to its original Photoshop/Illustrator/whatever format.
      • In my opinion, it isn't truly good until it can be freely converted back and forth into other usable, edit-able formats.

        First of all, it is editable, though not as easily as .doc.

        Second of all, part of the appeal of PDF is precisely the fact that you can't edit them unless you have some specific tools to do this. Believe it or not, but a lot of businesses find a technology that allows them to share documents electronically without running the risk of someone tampering with them quite convenient. Why do you think it is fax machines are still used as widely as they are?

        I happen to think that PDF's are really convenient, they even allow for fill in the blank forms that make it possible (in the Netherlands at least) to interact with all sorts of government agencies without having to go through the tedious process of calling them up, asking them to send a form to you (which they always fail to do unless you remind them at least three times over the course of three weeks), filling it out and sending it back (causing it to "get lost in the mail" (room, I suppose)). Now I just download the PDF, complete the form and mail it back. Done.
        • Not this lame old argument again. PDF gains nothing, as far as tamper proofing goes. This comment says that you only need Acrobat.

          Suppose there is a protected format that doesn't allow one to tamper with the output file. The minute this information reveals its output image, it's not really protected anymore, is it?

          • Not this lame old argument again. PDF gains nothing, as far as tamper proofing goes

            I didn't say they're perfect, but if you're going to tamper with a PDF, you'll need to know what you're doing, whereas any idiot can (unintentionally) mess up a Word doc. But yes, I agree with you in that it's primarily a matter of perception. Or, to be really mean, I'll say it's a document format that lets the layout guys keep their jobs. Let's just say it's the former ...
      • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Friday January 18, 2002 @08:14AM (#2861307) Homepage
        In a way, PDF is one of the most idiotic formats for document interchange ever designed. Who exactly thought it would be a good idea to hardcode the paper size?

        At a minimum this means that all internationally distributed PDFs have to come in two variants, A4 and Letter. And you need a screen wide enough to view a whole line of text - no possibility of reformatting into narrower columns for palmtops etc.

        There are plenty of good things about PDF, taken as a way to represent a printed page. But it certainly is not a good format to exchange documents that are meant to be readable by everyone.
        • The paper size is an integral part of the document design. If you want to support Letter and A4, you need to create two versions, and check them both for problems. That is a good thing, not a bug.

          With PDF, you know how the document is going to look. It isn't going to get screwed up by all the things that can change the appearance of a Microsoft Word or HTML document, such as fonts and printer drivers.

        • If you want the features you're talking about, you can use HTML, or you can distribute, say pdflatex source code, which other people can use to produce the paper size they want. HTML is very limited however; it's not a desktop publishing system.

          There is no general, automatic way to reformat a document to different sizes with results that always look good. What about that long equation? A human is going to have to decide how to break it up into two lines if you want a smaller output. What about that big table? A human is going to have to reformat it.

          The more you care about how good your output looks, the less possible it is to do automatic changes on it.

        • If you want a document to re-format to fit different page sizes and displays, use HTML. PDF is for transmitting a fully laid-out page. You can't do a layout without assuming a page size. Change the page size and the only way a computer can make the layout fit right is "shrink to fit". (That _is_ a checkbox option when printing from Acrobat 4.x.) Otherwise some _human_ is going to have to make decisions about how to rearrange the layout.

          My understanding is that A4 is a few mm narrower and a few mm taller. So printing an A4 pdf to letter page with "shrink to fit" on will give overly wide side margins, but it isn't too bad. Letter to A4 would give a lot of top or bottom margin. I wouldn't mind a few other options in Acrobat -- keep the header and footer at the same position from the top & bottom, and call me if things truly won't fit in between -- but I do get and send PDF's internationally and it's acceptable.

          Palmtops are a problem. They are a lousy way of viewing files, but when you have to, HTML might work, because (if the writer didn't overspecify) it does allow the displaying computer to reformat the text layout to whatever width is desirable. However, HTML often has to be re-written for palmtops. Besides the issue of authoring tools that somehow locked in a minimum width, often people are trying to receive the documents on low bandwidth wireless links. So if you want people to have a good experience viewing your web page on a palm-top, keep the byte count down -- use text only as much as possible, and only as many html tags as strictly needed. Since PDF's tend to be enormous, they won't mix well with palmtops even if you reformatted for the screen size...
      • I like to think of PDF as an output format only. By using a flexible markup system like Docbook [docbook.org], you can export to a number of formats. PDF is excellent (and often required) by book printers. It provides an unambiguous picture of how a book should be laid out.

        To me, PDF is a lot like a system executable. You write the document in some portable source code, then compile it for a particular need. Of course, this is a very different philosophy than WYSIWYG edits. Oh well.

      • Rich Text Format, folks.

        It's not suffectient for EVERY document, but nearly every word processor on the planet can read (and write) them, and you'd be surprised what can be captured in an RTF file.

        The OmniWeb browser uses them for web archives (or did at one time), and I couldn't beleive how beautifully it kept the page appearance the first time I saw it.

        I wonder that more people don't standardize on it.
    • PDF is an open standard. It is NOT controlled by a single company/interest. That's one of the reasons it's so great. While Adobe tends to make some pretty kick-butt software for the PDF format, there's lots of free Linux/UNIX/etc utils that do the same thing as the Adobe products.

      Slightly off-topic, but, in response to the .sig of the parent post: It's funny though, I took a look at your website. "Is linux right for you and your business". Considering the lack of insightful and documented ideas on the site, the fact that you thought PDF to be proprietary to be understandable.
      • by khuber (5664) on Friday January 18, 2002 @08:36AM (#2861370)
        >PDF is an open standard. It is NOT controlled by a single company interest

        I don't think you know what you're talking about! I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I think there a few things to consider. My understanding is that it's "Adobe PDF" and it's a de facto published "standard" controlled by Adobe. PDF is a derivative of PostScript Level 2. It is most definitely proprietary even though the format specification is available. Usually when people say "open standard", they mean that it is a "de jure" standard controlled by a recognized standards body like ISO, and Adobe Systems is a single interest, not a standards body. Another usage of "open standard" with respect to Adobe PDF refers to the fact that it's published and royalty-free. If Microsoft publishes the Word document format, it is still a proprietary format.

        The problem with proprietary formats like PDF is that a company who wants to influence the standard cannot join the controlling standards body. So basically if you don't like the direction Adobe Systems is taking with their format, you're screwed unless you have clout with the company. If you're concerned with archiving information for a long period of time or choosing an interoperable format, the proprietary nature of PDF is discouraging.

        Don't get me wrong, I like using the PDF format and have produced some nice documents using pdflatex, ebnf2ps, and other free PostScript tools. I just think it's important to understand the limitations of PDF which are primarily that it is 1) a publishing format more than an editing format and 2) Adobe controls it. At work, for example, documents are stored and passed through an editing and publishing workflow as XML, archived as XML, and only rendered to PDF on demand at the end.

        I hate to ramble on, but there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding on this topic. Some other people have made the analogy between the JPEG graphics format and a format with layer information like Photoshop's proprietary format. PDF is not designed to carry the types of metadata you might want in a document workflow as well as XML (or SGML), just like JPEG only represents the final rendered and flattened ("published") image from what may have been a multilayer graphic in the editing process. In other words, PDF is not a universal document format when you are concerned with editting or automation which relies on metadata that is not part of the document displayed to a user.

        -Kevin

        • Your criticisms of PDF are answered by your own last paragraph! PDF is a distribution format, not a source format. You should be concerned about who has control of your source format (e.g. Microsoft who deliberately change the .doc format with every Word release to force upgrades), but the only criteria for a distribution format should be whether people on every platform can read/print it, which is true of PDF. The fact the PDF has an open specification is really just a bonus, given that PDF readers are freely available from Adobe for every platform.
          • The concern with who actually controls PDF comes about because most of us _are_uneasy about who controls our source formats. That is, if we have to dig out a 10 year old project and make changes, we may have to try to replicate the computer environment of 10 years ago -- Office documents are probably OK, but the engineering programs I used in DOS and Win 3.11 won't run in 98 or NT. So, can I find those disks, and can I find a computer they'll run on, because DOS 6.22/Win 3.11 certainly doesn't believe in 30G hard drives, or plug and pray, or the printer drivers I use now?

            And getting into today's projects in 10 years is goiing to be worse. Hell, if you "upgraded" to XP with the product activation, you'll have to crack that just to run the same software!
    • by Matthias Wiesmann (221411) on Friday January 18, 2002 @04:23AM (#2860790) Homepage Journal
      First you have to understand that PDF is designed as a page description language (with some add-ons for forms and scripts), while Microsoft word is a word processor. Those are different tools.

      Also while the pdf format is controlled by Adobe, the specs are open and available (contrast this with Microsoft's format which is a complete mystery), you can get the specs from Adobe's site and nothing prevents you from writing code that manipulates pdf files (well yes there are issues with compression algorithm).

      This openess is the reason why Apple chose to use pdf as their graphic description language for OS X (older OS versions used QuickDraw). The windows page description language, is, I think, WMF. It's funny to think that the basic page description language used under Unix is Postscript, which is much more closed than PDF.

      • Ask Dmitry Skylarov what happened when he tried to "reverse-engineer" the encryption on that "open" standard (if it's open, why would he need to reverse engineer it in the first place?)

        PDF, open YEAH RIGHT!
      • It's funny to think that the basic page description language used under Unix is Postscript, which is much more closed than PDF.

        I'll admit that I am no expert on PS, and know even less about PDF, but in what respect is PS "more closed" that PDF?! The whole language is publicly published and easily accessible for free to anyone near by a library. There are also countless implementations of PS interpreters.

        • I don't know the exact conditions for the use of Postscript. When NEXT used display Postscript, they had to pay some license money to Adobe. Also Postscript compatible printer often were not called Postscript for licence reason. For instance for some time I had a Brother printer that supported BR-script.
          • If you want to use "PostScript", you need at least a trademark license.

            Of course, Adobe PostScript is not just a language specification, it's also an interpreter, and for the latter, you certainly have to pay license fees (and for the standard fonts, too).
          • When NEXT used display Postscript, they had to pay some license money to Adobe. Also Postscript compatible printer often were not called Postscript for licence reason.

            Precisely. NeXT chose to license Adobe's PostScript RIP, rather than reimplement it from scratch using the publically available specs. That's doesn't make PostScript any less open. It's a business decision. Brother apparently chose to implement it themselves, which means they don't have to pay a license fee to Adobe (but in the process, they lose the right to use the PostScript trademark). A business decision once again.

    • I will peobably lose karma for this, but I can't stand to see downright wrong perceptions about Linux being spread around.

      The person who posted the parent to this posting has a signature which points to a site with the url islinux4you.com. Among other things, this web site has the following inaccurate assertions:

      we were considering using [Linux] for a great deal of future internal projects.

      So you can imagine our suprise when we were informed by a lawyer that we would be required to publish our source code for others to use. It was brought to our attention that Linux is copyrighted under something called the GPL, or the GNU General Public License. Part of this license states that any changes to the kernel are to be made freely available. Unfortunately for us, this meant that the great deal of time and money we spent "touching up" Linux to work for this investment firm would now be available at no cost to our competitors.

      Furthermore, after reviewing this GPL our lawyers advised us that any products compiled with GPL'ed tools - such as gcc - would also have to its source code released. This was simply unacceptable.

      Looking at this, I come up with three possiblities:
      • This person is seriously ignorant of the GPL.
      • This person is a troll (e.g. someone who enjoys getting other people angry because they are too pathetic to accomplish anything else)
      • This person is being paid by some company that perceives Linux to be a threat.
      For the Windows users here, the quoted text is simply incorrect. The GPL allows modified versions for internal use without requiring the modified source to be distributed; the GPL allows people to compile anything they want with GCC; using any license; the only time the GPL is an issue is if someone wants to distribute a binary of a product which uses GPL source code.
      • Talking to myself, but I have concluded that islinux4you.com is a troll. I found the following gem on the site:
        I consider myself to be very technically inclined having programmed in VB for the last 8 years doing kernel level programming. I don't believe in C programming because contrary to popular belief, VB can go just as low level as C and the newest VB compiler generates code that's every bit as fast.
        I have bitten the troll. Sigh.

        - Sam

      • I found the one about Linux not having SMP support quite amusing as wel... ;-)
    • The original poster must be on crack. The link on his website was the most laughable FUD I have ever seen. Either he is 12, and "believes the hype", or he works for Microsoft, but I doubt the latter either. Anyway, PDF is an open format, and I like it alot. I absolutely love how KDE has a Print to PDF choice in program menus!
  • Profound. (Score:4, Informative)

    by torpor (458) <jayv.synth@net> on Friday January 18, 2002 @04:08AM (#2860748) Homepage Journal
    Especially when you consider that OSX now has a graphics engine based on PDF, which begins to finally close the gap between screen and paper ...

    Gotta love those dreamy nerds.
    • by guttentag (313541)
      I find that the real advantage of OSX's PDF-based graphics engine is that I can create PDF files from any print dialog.

      Previously this was available only though special software which had to be purchased from Adobe. Now the operating system emables me to create documents with the assurance that it will be rendered on anyone's screen as it would have been rendered by my printer.

      Beyond that, I know anyone can print their own hard copy of my document without any cross-platform problems. That's something MS Word cannot boast.

    • Re:Profound. (Score:2, Informative)

      by znu (31198)
      "Finally?" NeXTStep's Display PostScript closed this gap 13 years ago.
      • Re:Profound. (Score:2, Interesting)

        by scrutty (24640)
        Huge NEXSTEP fan that I am I still feel compelled to point out that Display Postscript was Adobe's tech,and licensed by NeXT, and also that Sun NeWS [postscript.org] was doing this before Display Postscript.

    • I'd agree with that wholeheartedly, under OS9 I'd either have to use Acrobat Distiller or InDesign to get my pages out to pdf easily, under OSX it's a breeze, the next step is to allow editing of pdfs in Text Edit. I'm sure that Windows will be where OSX is now in 3-5years as usual... :-[
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I attended college with John Warnock many, many years ago. Although I didn't really get to know him well, few people did; he spent most of his time meeting with the "Graphical Science" professors (no joke, that is what they were called at our school) and working on obscure programming projects. I remember one time when he exhibited what must have been an early version of the Photoshop core at an engineering fair - it had a very primitive [gnome.org] GUI but produced some amazing (for the era) effects on the images he used it on. The one effect I remember the best was the "emboss" transformation - it's now a staple in all graphical toolkits and editors, but I had never seen it before his demo.

    John and I haven't kept in touch in recent years but I wish him the very best of luck with Adobe. He's a very talented man and he deserves success.

    df

  • by red_crayon (202742) on Friday January 18, 2002 @04:15AM (#2860770)
    Another function of the IPS binder will be to include reconstituted fonts into the IPS file. The idea here is to include just the characters of a font that are actually used in the document. A result of including the necessary characters from the fonts used is that an IPS file will be completely self contained. In other words, when I send a file around the country, I don't have to worry about whether the receiving location has all the fonts required by the document. The current situation is that complex font substitution schemes are used to deal with locations not having the appropriate fonts.

    Later on Adobe did better than this, with the Multiple Master Font idea --- even if a font or a subset of the font is not embedded (this can seriously bloat file sizes as the font encodings are a lot of overhead for a small document), Acrobat reader (or some other display device) can render the font pretty well because it knows how to "fake" the correct appearance based on similarities to combinations of master fonts. It's a very clever approach.

  • by banky (9941) <gregg&neurobashing,com> on Friday January 18, 2002 @04:16AM (#2860772) Homepage Journal
    Everyone knows about OSX and DPDF. When will Windows abandon the bitmapped display it has used since, well, forever? Is MS working on a system similar to DPDF? Or do they not even really regard the technology as worthwhile? It seems odd to me, since MS's cash cow is Word and Excel, that they are essentially using the same graphics engine they have always used, albeit much faster and with more features. (opponents of MS will say that this applies to all their technologies). Is it merely that they (MS) have not built their own, and are hesitant to license PDF from Adobe? Or are there strong technical reasons (besides, I guess, breaking the old software).
    • You don't need to license PDF from Adobe. It's an open standard. This is one of the reasons why OS X has a shiny new PDF-based graphics engine, instead of continuing to use the Display PostScript engine from NeXTStep.
    • Well, these days they have a reasonably display-independent graphics system (GDI+), which is unfortunately saddled with the fact that:

      1. It's buggy. (create a bitmap to cover your entire window, and it'll be a pixel shy at the bottom and right sides).
      2. It uses a mix of pixel coordinates and real-world units.
      3. You have to switch to drawing things in a kind of reverse-polish notation if you're doing any kind of transformations. For example, drawing text so that the line goes vertically upwards can get real messy. Especially when you start measuring the bounds of it.

      It probably needs a little time to mature -- heck, the documentation is 'pre-release'. But for now, I think a lot of people are going to stick with GDI for regular windows development.

      Of course, I'll happily be proved wrong.

      Si
  • Very useful (Score:2, Informative)

    by The Cat (19816)
    ..and it would seem to be a solid alternative to the office/printer problem on Linux. Color printing on Linux remains a problem for some printer models (although this is improving). Any office suite is limited in use without the ability to print *correctly* from Linux. The need for the Windows printer driver is very inconvenient.

    However, once one learns LyX, it would seem, one can author documents at least (with color graphics, no less) on Linux in a format that can be exported to either PDF or HTML, and viewed or printed on any platform with a PDF viewer, including eBooks, Linux, Mac and Windows. This makes things far more convenient.
  • Note that the paper indicates they were originally planning on selling the viewers. I'll bet there is an internal political story there...

    I assume they eventually got paid for including it in the printer drivers in Mac OS and Windows, but initially, they were just giving it away. In fact, they also gave away the rendering tools to just about everybody who owned another Adobe product. Of course the net result was that it quickly became indispensable.
    • Ahhh ... the good ol' days of font wars between Adobe and MS. I believe that one unintended side-effect (at least I hope so otherwise it would indicate some really devious business thinking) was that by making acroread ubiquitous, they effectively controlled the pathway to the printer. All their publishing products can suppress printing/cut&pasting and those rules are enforced by acroread. Hence by giving away their viewers, they effectively created a distribution channel for PDF files that required comparatively expensive authoriing tools ... it is a heck of lot easier selling 10,000 $500 packages than trying to flog 1,000,000 $5 viewers.

      The puzzling thing is why they don't produce unix versions of their latest acroread versions. This opens up a gap in their product range which open-source viewers could potentially evolve to bypass any protection scheme.

      LL
    • Note that the paper indicates they were originally planning on selling the viewers. I'll bet there is an internal political story there.

      In fact, Adobe initially used to sell the Acrobat Reader software for something like $99. I don't remember the exact ammount, but there was a charge. This was changed in the later versions of Acrobat Reader.

      In fact the initial target market for Acrobat was internal corporate documentation in a mixed computing environment. It was only later that Adobe decided to give out the Acrobat Reader for free and turned PDF into what it is today

  • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Friday January 18, 2002 @04:38AM (#2860829)
    The main problem I see is that its designed to reproduce print-like quality, which is great for when you need a hard copy, but the trend to turn PDF into a lazy man's HTML is definately for the worse.

    First, the filesize is ridiculous.

    The interface needs a lot of work, unless I have a scrolling mouse I won't even bother reading one. The little hand widget must go. Also, I don't want to have to resize my screen to be able to read half the poorly produced PDFs out there. No use in jumping to the next page when I can only display 2/3 of the current one. So back to the little hand.

    They're non-editable for the most part once you make them.

    They are in a closed format and controlled by a litigious company unafraid to use the DMCA for their own questionable ends.

    The plug-ins are notoriously buggy.

    Its great for sending something straight to the laser printer, but as an on-line advance it really just stinks.
    • >First, the filesize is ridiculous.
      Yes, but personally, I see it as a trend; Moore's Law, HD technology, and better broadband will make this trivial.

      >The interface needs a lot of work
      Eh, its just an implementation detail, isn't it?

      >They're non-editable for the most part once you make them.
      Only because Adobe wants to charge a lot for Acrobat. Were PDF as common as .DOC, you'd see more of a slant towards editing them.

      >They are in a closed format
      Isn't the actual format open? For instance, xPDF isn't a hack, it uses the open specs, right?

      >controlled by a litigious company unafraid to use the DMCA for their own questionable ends.
      Yeah, no argument there.

      >The plug-ins are notoriously buggy.
      Another implementation detail. Fix the plugins. I am not aware of something specific to PDF that causes that.
    • First, the filesize is ridiculous.

      I dunno - the complete 423 page manual for Macromedia's Fireworks (with tons of embedded graphics) is about 6.5 megs and the print quality is light years ahead of the same document reproduced in HTML. That doesn't seem outrageous to me.

      They're non-editable for the most part once you make them.

      I think you're truly asking for magic software that can take input from any existing application, make it universally readable while retaining the formatting and also allow you to make changes to the complex formatting within the document.

      PDF is revolutionary because it enables organizations to easily take documents intended for print and quickly/cheaply make them freely available electronically for a multitude of users. Think of all of the forms, manuals, etc. that are now available because they could just run it through Acrobat.

    • First, the filesize is ridiculous.
      Compared to what? XML and DOC are usually larger. PDF provides compression (lzw,flate) and the overhead of the file format is relativly small.
      The interface needs a lot of work, unless I have a scrolling mouse I won't even bother reading one. The little hand widget must go. Also, I don't want to have to resize my screen to be able to read half the poorly produced PDFs out there. No use in jumping to the next page when I can only display 2/3 of the current one. So back to the little hand.
      Is this a critic of the Portable Document Format? You are talking about a specific viewer on a specific plattform for that; there are other viewers available (e.g. xpdf, gv, gsview). And even the Acrobat Reader has keyboard interface. You might want to read the manual.
      They're non-editable for the most part once you make them.
      PDF was never intended to be editable (You would know that if you had read the original paper [planetpdf.com]). It's for viewing and sending to the printer. And you can add comments to it. It's great for sending to the printer (or printing house) because it's (in a way) simplified PostScript with all fonts attached.
      They are in a closed format and controlled by a litigious company unafraid to use the DMCA for their own questionable ends.
      PDF is a proprietary open format which can be extended by everyone (you should really check the specification [adobe.com]). And there will be an ISO version of it: PDF/X [ddap.org].
      The plug-ins are notoriously buggy.
      And this is a problem of the file format? Or are you talking about the reader working as a plug-in in your browser? Because the Acrobat plug-ins we use are not "notoriously buggy".
      Its great for sending something straight to the laser printer, but as an on-line advance it really just stinks.
      Show us something better for on-line reading with perfect layout and graphics that prints as intended. XHTML with CSS2? Where do I get a viewer for that that's as small and fast as Acrobat Reader?

      P.S.:And this has a score of 4? :-(

    • I'm no Adobe fan, but I've been working on PDF format for a few years and I found it great.

      First, the filesize is ridiculous.

      If you're comparing to plain text, yes. Otherwise, PDF have a built-in format that allows the producer to compress the PDF's streams (ie text and images) with a LZW algorithm.

      They are in a closed format

      These are java libraries for creating and editing PDFs :

      pj [etymon.com][Open Source, GPL]
      Big Faceless [faceless.org][Commercial w/ Evaluation]
      retepPDF [retep.org.uk][Open Source, LGPL]
      Java Pdf Library [lowagie.com][Open Source, LGPL]
      PDFGo [pdfgo.com][commercial]
      rugPDF0.20 [rug.ac.be][Open Source, LGPL]

      By the way the closed format has an open specification : http://partners.adobe.com/asn/developer/acrosdk/do cs/PDFRef.pdf [adobe.com]
    • NO, NO, NO (Score:3, Insightful)

      by evilviper (135110)
      You're right in the fact that it is ridiculous, but for the wrong reasons....

      With HTML, the page contures and changes to match your environment. Width, Height, Font, Color, etc.

      If a web page made up of PDFs is designed on a 1024x768 screen, anyone with a 640x480 screen is really screwed. Imagine Lynx trying to read PDFs!

      PDFs are great for documents that WILL be printed on a standard and consisten sized media (letter-sized paper) but it's serious drawbacks are that it doesn't scale, resize, change fonts etc. Try printing an A4 PDF on letter-sized paper, or vice versa.

      In fact, I've seen PDFs made quite badly. The problem is, the creator holds all the cards, and the user is screwed. With some PDFs, the designers use damn tiny fonts, and huge margins, making the printout look like suck.com. With HTML, we can override the font settings, we set the margins, and in general, the user simply controls exactly how they want it.

      That's the difference. PDFs put the creator in too-much control, and HTML puts the end user's in total control.

      Screw PDF, I like HTML.
    • The main problem I see is that its designed to reproduce print-like quality, which is great for when you need a hard copy, but the trend to turn PDF into a lazy man's HTML is definately for the worse.

      PDF should not be used as a replacement for HTML. Just as people should be shot for making flash only sites, they should be shot for just slapping a bunch of images or PDFs up, and calling it a 'website'. PDF has its uses, and the problem is that there are still a fair number of folks using the technology incorrectly. Likewise, there are folks who still try to send HTML e-mails to me. You'll do better if you attempt to educate folks about the technology than just blowing it off.

      First, the filesize is ridiculous.

      Yes and no. When handled correctly, it's quite reasonable. The problems are when someone scans in a 50 page document, and saves it all as images, with no compression, and you're looking at 65-70k per page. When you start comparing similar, correctly formatted items (not too many folks have graphics laden 300 page manuals in MS word hanging around), but when you compare it to a similar EPS file, or even something pre-press, like Quark or PageMaker, it's about right. For those folks who need to have the memo or whatever saved electronically exactly as it came in, well, there's options for

      The interface needs a lot of work, unless I have a scrolling mouse I won't even bother reading one. The little hand widget must go. Also, I don't want to have to resize my screen to be able to read half the poorly produced PDFs out there. No use in jumping to the next page when I can only display 2/3 of the current one. So back to the little hand.

      This is an application issue, and not a document standards issue. Personally, I use the pageup/pagedown keys normally.

      They're non-editable for the most part once you make them.

      Yet another pre-conceived falsehood. The problem is that you have Acrobat Reader, which only reads PDF files. There's a similar companion program for MS Word for those who want to read MS Word files, but don't want to shell out to be able to write them.

      However, in this case, last year, when my roommate was entering the Games Workshop WH40k Grand Tournament, they had put up the application as a PDF. Unfortunately, wanted you to print it out, and write in the fields. I don't like that concept, so I opened it up in a full copy of Acrobat, and make it a little more functional. (added some fields, some automatic calculations, etc.)

      They are in a closed format and controlled by a litigious company unafraid to use the DMCA for their own questionable ends.

      *yawn*. You're starting to pull at straws, man. You could make that argument about just about any company who had a software product that they're not giving away for free. If you want to talk about some real hard asses, look up Kodak's Picture CD format.

      The plug-ins are notoriously buggy.

      Once again, straws. I'm guessing my definition of 'notorious' and yours differ greatly. It's rock-solid on a Mac. You might just want to move to a more stable OS.

      Its great for sending something straight to the laser printer, but as an on-line advance it really just stinks.

      Once again. You have to look at folks who use it correctly. There are times when PDF is the better format. Any sort of application or form that needs to be printed and signed can be filled on online, then printed, signed, and sent in. You get your pretty-printed version, and you reduce text-entry and the possibility for user error on the backend. [You just queue it up, and have someone verify they didn't change anything when you get the signed copy].

      Personally, I feel that Flash and HTML3 were crappy advancements, due to the amount that people misuse them. The same with JavaScript and CSS. There are right times, and wrong times for just about any technology. There will never be one product which will solve every problem that folks might have, and to think that it might ever happen is just plain ignorant. PDF fills certain niche markets better than HTML ever will. Likewise, HTML better fills other niches. Just because you don't have the same uses that other folks have doesn't mean the product 'just stinks'.
  • John Warnock said there were two paths, one is to use Display Postscript, and the other is to use Interchange Postscript.
    It sounds like they went with IPS, but how divergent from Postscrip is PDF (or Acrobat Exchange format)? Also, does anyone know if anyone other than Apple uses Display Postscript?
    • Display Ghostscript (Score:2, Informative)

      by krmt (91422)
      There is actually a free DPS library for X. It's made by Aladdin, the people who brought you Ghostscript, and the package itself is called Display Ghostscript.

      It's actually not complete, and I don't know what's going on with it currently. I had seriously toyed with the idea of writing a window manager based off the library, a la' OSX, but from what I gathered the lib wasn't quite in a useable state. You can get it on debian via "apt-get install libdps" and there are dev packages too.

      I would seriously love to see someone (particularly the Windowmaker & GNUStep team, as it fits them best) create my project of the DPS window manager and Widget set. I don't know how useful it would be, but I think it would definitely compel people to move forward. The URL for DPS programming info is here [adobe.com], if anyone is interested.
    • Also, does anyone know if anyone other than Apple uses Display Postscript?

      OpenWindows (under Sun Solaris) can, NeXTStep does (but I'm presuming that's what you mean by Apple), some SGI Irix X stuff can.
  • by ceeam (39911)
    If only Distiller wouldn't crash Win2k oh so often...
    And even when it doesn't bluescreen in my experience it's better to reboot it after generation of a bunch of PDFs just to be sure that the mess in kernel structures Distiller driver (usually) causes does not stay there.
  • ... or how printing is highly overrated and I'd rather use hyperlinks than (see page 41). I don't quite see how PDF is better than a regular markup language, a manual or technical paper isn't a work of art. Why does it need to look exactly the same. I'm looking for information, not a breathtaking setup of paragraphs. Why not do it in html?

    And will someone please tell me what's up with those "This page intentionally left blank". Not only is it contradictive, but a waste of paper/time/etc.
    • I second that anti-PDF notion... PDF puts full control in the hands of the creators and practically no control in the hands of the users. HTML will look damn good at any resolution, in the font I choose, with or without images as I see fit, with the margins that I want it to have.

      My favorite page was a right-to-the point message on a Government intern application:

      "This Page is Blank".

      Now mind you, because it was an offical document, it means the offical opinion of the US Government is: that page is Blank!

      It just reminds me of going up to an officer at some military facility and getting direction to Area 51. Area 51 may not exist according to the government, but you can get directions to it by offical government personell.

      • I second that anti-PDF notion... PDF puts full control in the hands of the creators and practically no control in the hands of the users. HTML will look damn good at any resolution, in the font I choose, with or without images as I see fit, with the margins that I want it to have.


        You're not getting it, the whole point of .pdf isn't for editing or that matter printing. It's suppose to represent paper on screen. It's so that you can look at the printed pages of (in your case) a manual, on screen just as you would a book.

        The reason you have no control over the content of the .pdf is the same as why you dont go around applying blanko on books and changing its content. But however just like a book, you have the option of 'book marking', Indexing, and leaving a little post-it note on the page with your thoughts and writing in the margins.

        At the same time, the reason PostScript and i belive according to the artical the Camalot project was created it so that Font, Objects, Content and Formatting is expressed the SAME way regardless of generation, machine or platform, and so letting you change the formatting (margins and all) kinda defeats the prupose doesn't it?
        • I understand very well what PDF is for. The problem is, I don't care for it one bit.

          PDF is ONLY useful when you have a document that you want to be printed out somewhere else on the same-sized media. It is not a format for online viewing as it has been used. I couldn't give less of a damn if it looks different on my system than on anyone elses. I want it to print out they way I want it, and someone else wants to print it out differently. HTML respects that, and makes no attempt to FORCE the viewer to see it in any particular way.

          One of the worst things a web designer can do is attempt to force a user to view it a certain way. To avoid it ,is to make everyone happy all the time. There's nothing wrong with images, as long as there's an ALT= for those that don't wish to load images... Conversely, there's nothing wrong with CSS for the simple reason that the user may disable CSS if he/she chooses to do so.

          PDF should not have a market... PS does just fine for print shops and printers, and in no case is it okay to force a particular layout/font/size/etc. on the end users of your documents.

          Here's an example in case you still don't get it... News papers use a rather tall and wide format... So lets say a newspaper wants to release an online archive of the papers. A monstrocity of a PDF (like that would be) would be damn near impossible to print for those users that don't have ghostscript/Acrobat, and would be pretty damn miserable for anyone to try to read (It would be like reading a letter-sized PDF on a Palm/WinCE device. After a lot of size to side scrolling, you won't give a damn how the publisher intended it to be read! What you will want at that point is a format that will automatically format itself to be easially readable on any size screen: HTML.

          Have I grounded my point in clearly enough yet?
  • Prepress industry (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lamj (153635) <jasonlamNO@SPAMflashmail.com> on Friday January 18, 2002 @05:12AM (#2860879)
    I know most readers here (myself included) are from IT industry, let me also introduce some effects of PDF on prepress industry. (Let's look at things from another perspective)

    In the old days, there was a lot of press approval and proofs being sent via the ad. agency to the end user for approval. With PDF, even the end user can fire up PDF reader on their own computer and view the electronic proofs, it is not color accurate (looking at the screen), but for most part (especially small cheap run), it works well.

    The same PDF sometimes also get on the RIP (Rasterized Image Processor) for output, this assures same results from the electonic proofs. (accuracy is very important in this industry)

    Major problem now is sometimes a prepress shop get one job done and sent to other for output to film or CTP (to plate), the PDF files does not have fonts embeded (PDF have this "feature"), then, it will become a hunt for the right fonts.

    Prepress shops have mixed feelings for PDF, most that I talked to see it as a constructive technology.
    • Prepress shops have mixed feelings for PDF, most that I talked to see it as a constructive technology.

      First off, this is not meant to be flamebait, which I guess is the surest way to get modded down. From what I understand of PDF at professional printing houses is they don't much care for it at the moment at all. Most of the ones my company has worked with definitely prefer Quark, or some other type of raw file format. Apparently PDF is still way too clever to get a proper output to the press machines, and tends to cause a lot of glitches.

      Most of that realm is way outside my personal understanding of printing. PDF has always done a really outstanding of job of printing to a laser printer for me from either FreeBSD or Windows. The only thing I know for sure is that there's quite a difference between a professional level print house and a laser printer.

      The only reason I mention this here is that I know Adobe wants to make PDF "the" file format for professional level needs. It would be nice to see them succeed in getting PDF working as nicely at both the user and professional level. It'd simplify a lot of processes. Especially keeping fonts together with documents.
  • MS & PDF (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lamj (153635)
    I think one of the major resistance that PDF have today is support from major Word Processor. MS Office and most major suite does not support saving as PDF "yet".

    By the way, the most easiest way to covert MS Word doc to PDF without Acrobat would be Adobe's website, they offer 5 free online file conversion (supporting many source formats). Might be useful for some of you.
    • Nope, the easiest way to convert to pdf is to use the print dialogue box in OS X and print to a file instead of the printer.

      ;)
    • The easiest was is to use KDE for your Desktop Manger and choose File | Print to PDF
    • Even easier:

      http://www.et.dtu.dk/Software/GhostWord/Index.ht ml

      It's a free(beer)ware interface to Ghostscript that works from within MS-Office applications, and enables conversion to a .pdf in two mouse clicks.
  • ... but i feel for publishing purposes, i have yet to see anything with the ease of use of Acrobat. Espcially in publishing, where you have to mail upteen versions of magazine pages etc to clients who arn't technically oriented but whose go ahead for a run is needed.

    Besides, even with pros, acrobat gives WYSIWYG, embeded fonts, compression for text and images and so on.... i think the size overhead for all this is worth every bit it takes up...

    And even if you don't agree, which is more moronic, sending in MS Publisher .PUB or Pagemaker and PDF?
  • I'm surprised no-one (that I'm aware of) has proposed a 'bundled' portable HTML file format that would be non-proprietry, vendor neutral, and immune to problems like the Skylarov case.

    All it would take (IMHO) is an extended HTML document which contained each individual HTML page in < PAGE > < /PAGE > sections, as well as < MEDIA > < /MEDIA> wrappers around text-encoded graphics file. Fonts could possibly also be shipped within the document.

    All the browser would have to be extended to do would be split up the pages, and decode the image information. Or, a simple parser could chop it into its component pages and images. Voila, a single-file multi-part document viewable by any browser.

    Why is this better than a zipped set of HTML pages? For one it misses the unzipping and saving stage, making it as immediate as PDF. Secondly, the PHTML generator would do link checking and remunging ensuring local links within the document was completely self contained.

    Any thoughts?
    • There are standrads for doing this already - HTML mail encapsualtes images inline, and the data: URL specifier allows inline base64 images, though most browsers don't implement it.
      • There are also .htmld bundles in OS X. An OS X bundle is really a directory (that shows up as a single file in the file manager), so .htmld bundles are fully backwards compatible, since browsers just see a directory with HTML files and images in it.
    • It has not been proposed because HTML is not a page description language. It's a document structuring language, even if a lot of people do not understand the difference. Its is simply the wrong tool. HTML displays a document using information about its structure (title, paragraphs), to an arbitrary media. A page description language is about describing precisely the graphical structure (x,y position of all elements).

      Take a arbitrary page layout (say a magazine - a paper one), and ask yourself, can I describe this with HTML? The answer is no. HTML and PDF have different goals. Trying to use one for the other is not a good idea. Use the right tool.

      A much better candidate would be the SVG format [w3.org], which is based on XML, open and has all the needed features. It is a true vector graphic file format. The only problem is, it is not widely supported (and maybe the font embedding mechanism is not as good).

      Then again, PDF does the job nicely -- and is widely supported. While you can embed proprietary features in PDF, so can you with an HTML file (simply by including a GIF file). In fact if you take the current HTML technology, as far as I know, the font embedding mechanism used for HTML is completly proprietary.
      Maybe this issue is more complicated than Adobe = BAD Open Source = GOOD

      As to why PDF has better compression that an compressed html page. The difference is that the compression is done inside the file, so each type of data is compressed with a different compression algorithm. Also PDF has a feature that is called object reuse, the basic idea is that if an element is present multiple time in a document, it will only be stored once (perfect compression if you want). If you design your html document carefully, you can get this, but more often, machine generated html is very redundant.

      • It has not been proposed because HTML is not a page description language.
        I doubt if that is correct. There are probably other reasons it may not have been proposed, but that certainly isnt one of them.

        It's a document structuring language, even if a lot of people do not understand the difference.
        Actually the differentation was lost fairly early on in HTML, and was only really made absolute again in HTML 4.
        But thats irrelevant to my point. HTML+CSS gives you content, structure, and page description. Didnt I already mention having all external files incuded in the bundle. Was I talking about something only in terms of page description? Or did you just bring up some arbitrary points with no relevance to what I was saying?

        Its is simply the wrong tool. HTML displays a document using information about its structure (title, paragraphs), to an arbitrary media.
        Actually incorrect, for reasons you have already mentioned. Are you getting yourself confused? An HTML browser does the display. HTML basically only marks up predefined (and somewhat content-null) structural components.

        A page description language is about describing precisely the graphical structure (x,y position of all elements).

        I was talking about a vendor-neutral method of distributing multi-part hypertextual documentation in a single easily-parsed file. Who limited that definition to 'page description language'?
      • It has not been proposed because HTML is not a page description language. It's a document structuring language

        Despite the original intention HTML has almost NEVER been used as a document structuring language but as an easy (and really bad) page description language. Nobody uses HTML to structure their documents; they use it to display their documents. HTML has always been a bastard between page description and document structure and does neither terribly well. It was originally concieved as a document structuring language (with tags like P, STRONG, CITE, BLOCKQUOTE, H1, H2 etc.) but reflecting some confusion between structure and display it always included some display tags. With no other mechanism for defining display, people used the structure tags to define display. People used BLOCKQUOTE not because they were quoting a block of text but because they wanted margins on either side. As it developed HTML was increasingly encrusted with display tags (B, I, FONT, etc.) and hacks, particularly using TABLE to position elements. Because display is what people wanted. Unfortunately since it was never designed to do that it never did it very well and now doesn't do document structure very well either (on the few occasions someone may want to use it for that purpose). Despite these fundamental flaw HTML was a success because it was easy - attempts to address these flaws have undermined that initial advantage.

        This is the gordian knot XML is designed cut. XML will handle document structure and CSS and someday XSL (eXtensible Stylesheet Language) will handle display/page description. Hopefully each component will be both more powerful for their respective function and remain easy to use (XML in my opinion succeeds in this, XSL I don't know enough about but I have high hopes).
    • The AbiWord way is the right way to do this. Just make a program that can transparently view/edit zipped html/image files.

      With HTML in seperate files than the images, the HTML can be quickly loaded, taking up few resources. The images may or may not be loaded at the user's option, and the font/layout will match the user preferences.

      The best part is that it can easially be edited by hand using modest system resources to view/edit.
    • IE 5 & 6 can save any webpage as what MS call a Web Archive. It's actually a multi-part MIME document, the same as used for HTML E-Mail.

      CSS has some allowances for print-specific layout and page breaks. I think between them you'll get what you want, but it won't be as nice and controllable as PDF.
    • 'm surprised no-one (that I'm aware of) has proposed a 'bundled' portable HTML file format... All it would take (IMHO) is an extended HTML document which contained each individual HTML page in < PAGE > < /PAGE > sections, as well as < MEDIA > < /MEDIA> wrappers around text-encoded graphics file. Fonts could possibly also be shipped within the document.

      Only last week did I find out there's already a solution that does exactly this: HTMLDOC (See http://www.easysw.com/htmldoc/ [easysw.com]) It's free as in beer, but not totally free as in speech, since it's GPL'd, limiting your rights much more than a BSD license would. :-)

      It's not a replacement for PDFs at all though: in fact, one of the things it can do is make beautifully formatted PDFs (or PS) from HTML files. It even has some fairly useful formatting options to support books and such.

      This is a very nice program - I am VERY impressed, so much so that I'd like to see full HTML editors that understand the HTMLDOC extended tags in Konqueror, Mozilla, Netscape 6.next, etc., and also see that these and other browsers implement the HTMLDOC filter as a checkbox option when printing an HTML file.

      HTMLDOC supports HTML 3.2 and some 4.0, and is supposed to support type 1 & 2 CSS in the next release.

      Highly recommended. It's clearly not the right format for everything, and it's clearly not a page layout program, but it is applicable in a great many situations. It seems to bridge the gap between web/dynamic, page, and distribution formats quite well. It's even rich enough that a simple word processor could be built using it - perhaps a bit more like "HTMLroff" than Word, but then that's not a bad thing...
  • Ummmmm, I'm not quite sure how to phrase this;

    is there a non-pdf version available?
  • LaTex? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by markmoss (301064) on Friday January 18, 2002 @09:46AM (#2861598)
    The computer industry already had a standard format for controlling the layout, fonts, and appearance of printed text. Tex. I'm not real familiar with it, but I know it existed in the 70's, is still around as LaTex, and I think it's not proprietary. So can anyone clarify whether PDF has advantages over LaTex for anyone besides Adobe?
    • Tex and LaTex are more a typesetting language. It's aimed at formating text documents.

      Meanwhile, PostScript is much more. It's a programming language designed for laying out page content. You can do some pretty funky stuff with PostScript. I've seena PostScript library (a 'dict') that rendersOpenGL models (not ray-tracing, but surface shading that's still convincing).

      The PostScript/PDF relationship is analogous to C and pre-processed C.
      • TeX puts letters in boxes and is very good at it. It is not so good at doing things like drawing an image on the background of the page or even vector graphics.

        Most DVI drivers will let you put Postscript into a TeX document that will come out nice on a postscript printer.

        I've been attempting to convert some of our web page catalogn data into TeX so that it prints out better. The text is great but the tables just don't have a modern fluffy look that is so common in modern catalogs.

        I've been using pdflatex which take LaTeX input and makes a pdf file directly.
    • Re:LaTex? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BlueGecko (109058) <benjamin.pollackNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday January 18, 2002 @10:50AM (#2861953) Homepage
      Well, you'd want to be comparing PDF to DVI, or the Device-Independent Imaging format, not [La]TeX to PDF. LaTeX simply is a way to mark up the structure of a document and then process that and turn it into a well-formatted, ready-for-print version. DVI is the output files you get after running LaTeX on a source file, and, like PDF, they are platform-independent files that can be viewed at any resolution and used to be used in conjunction with PostScript for printing. My understanding of PDFs vs. DVI is as follows:
      • Both support essentially unlimited resolution (DVI's default measuring unit is the wavelength of light, while PDF uses a point but allows you to go to something like one one-millionth of that)
      • Both support hyperlinks
      • PDF allows you to embed fonts and images easily, while DVI relies on a PostScript renderer to be available for these features
      • PDF allows you to have a table of contents pane for quick navigation, while DVI does not (or, if it does, I've never seen a viewer implement this functionality)
      • I believe both allow you to theoretically embed content in other formats (indeed, as I just said, this is how DVI handles EPS images), but this is much more fully fleshed-out in PDF where one can easily embed movies and audio clips
      • PDF allows forms and "secure content," while DVI does not (and if you followed the Skylarov deal, you know PDF really doesn't either.)

      • and the biggest advantage of PDF:

      • It's far, far more widely available.


      I'm sure there are other differences, but even many people I know simply use pdfLaTeX now to generate PDFs from LaTeX markup instead of the old DVIs, so presumably even they see an advantage in Adobe's format. When it comes down to it, I suspect that PDF's font embedding, better handling of other embedded content, and on top of that simply its pervasiveness are the biggest factors. Anyone is welcome to correct me on any of this, however.
      • Somebody mod bluegecko's post up, please. Very informative. I was wondering if there was a _technical_ advantage to PDF, not just that Adobe flooded the internet with free viewers. (I'd assume there are free viewers for DVI somewhere also.) The answer was, yes. DVI doesn't (easily) embed fonts and images; that's a big point for PDF, and in a good many cases it would decide the issue all by itself.

        "Secure content" I consider a point against PDF -- it won't work, but it provides jobs for lawyers.

        Other than that, how proprietary are these formats? Can you write an open-source/free PDF editor or converter program without running afoul of Adobe patents, copyrights, or trademarks? Has anyone written such programs? And for DVI, same questions.
  • "Camelot"... laid out the foundation for what has become Acrobat/PDF.

    I dont see what the hubbub is.. its only a model.
  • by jabley (100482)
    Of course, now it's 2002, and the dream of universal display / printing remains only partly realized; PDFs really have helped to narrow the gap between dream and reality, though.

    NeXTStep realised that dream, as does Mac OS X. Apple is now the largest Unix OS vendor on the planet, so it's fair to say that the majority of Unix systems now realise this dream.

    If we discount Windows users, on the basis that they are not qualified to make informed decisions about anything (or else they wouldn't be using Windows) it looks like that dream has been mainly realised, in fact.

    Hooray!

  • PostScript and PDF both date from the era of the programmer-oriented word processors, NROFF, TROFF, TeX, and such. Those things were all based on an interpretive model, with the document being represented as a form of executable code.

    That's a terrible idea.

    The basic problem with executable documents is that about all you can do is execute them. Editing them is tough. Conversion to another format is tough (PDF->HTML translation often sucks.) Search engines have trouble indexing executable documents reliably.

    Compare HTML, which is declarative, not executable. It's much easier to do things with an HTML document than a PostScript, PDF, or TeX document. You can reformat for a different screen size, you can view it in a text browser, and you can even listen to it in an audio browser.

    What PDF and PostScript tend to actually look like is a big block of canned code at the the beginning that converts whatever the generating program likes to generate, followed by the actual content in some nonstandard format. That's a pain to deal with.

    Microsoft's .DOC format, while deliberately obscure and inconsistent, is a declarative format which can do most of the things PDF can. But you can also re-edit a .DOC document, which doesn't work on PDF or PostScript.

    Now that we have enough experience with machine-readable documents to know what we need and don't need in the format, we don't have to use executable formats. PDF as a distribution format should go, and PostScript's role should be limited to printing.

  • ...to publish it as a pdf document instead of HTML?

It is surely a great calamity for a human being to have no obsessions. - Robert Bly

Working...