[texhax] automated document processing (was Re: tex vs latex)
will.adams at frycomm.com
Fri Oct 30 12:40:30 CET 2009
On Oct 28, 2009, at 6:57 PM, C.A.Rowley at open.ac.uk wrote:
> Why have the fundamental processes of automated document processing
> at most levels progressed not at all during that same period? (I
> exclude font technologies from this indictment.)
It's a hard problem, and one which few companies are willing to invest
Commercial software developers have to sell software which users are
able to learn, and are willing to use, so one ends up w/ naïve users
treating computers are glorified memory typewriters w/ advanced
features ignored or mis-used.
Software is tested and evaluated in periodicals by journalists who
find it easier to manage a long list of features and yes / no
checkboxes than any sort of in-depth evaluation of how a system works
and can be used most efficiently.
That said, the fundamentals of this are kind of invariant, aren't they?
Typography ultimately devolves to key-value pairs of text and markup
and how one processes that.
The best markup scheme I've found is TEI: http://www.tei-c.org/
index.xml and there're some neat tools for converting that to LaTeX.
(I hope that there will be some direct integration w/ LaTeX-3?)
An open-ended rant about difficulties in the industry:
- no way to encode index entries in XML and have them set as such in
- no flexible space before heads in InDesign w/o resorting to
scripts which often require manual intervention
- no way to conditionally insert graphics in InDesign (actually, one
can't get graphics in when using Adobe Tagged Text and if one uses
XML, one can't get in index entries, so one has to resort to hybrid
work-flows and proprietary tools like XTags)
- tools which focus on allowing the user to do things like
instantiate 45 different spot colours in a file w/ a single menu
command rather than automating processing colours, &c. (Adobe
Illustrator to name names)
- no way to encode graphic sizes in html using relative sizes (ems)
when using CSS or any other system I've found
- RIPs which will not honour a request to provide a .pdf at a
particular Adobe Acrobat compatibility level
(there, my week in a nutshell)
By contrast, TeX / LaTeX (and ConTeXt and other variants) work, are
extensible and the only limits to what one can do w/ them are human
ingenuity and available computer processing power and storage capacity.
senior graphic designer
Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow.
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