[texhax] dvi vs pdf

Ulrike Fischer news3 at nililand.de
Fri Dec 3 10:31:52 CET 2010

Am Thu, 2 Dec 2010 13:40:03 -0500 (EST) schrieb Michael Barr:

You are comparing dvi against pdf. This doesn't make much sense: 

pdf is an "end format" you can give it to someone who has never
heard of TeX and he will be able to view and print it. 

dvi is an intermediary format. It doesn't have contents. It can only
be (pre)viewed when a TeX-System is present, and this preview is
accurate only if all graphics are shipped together with the dvi, if
all fonts are present and if the previewer can handle all the
specials. (YAP is quite good in this respect but only because in the
background it use dvips to generate a ps and view this with

> Here is my reaction to the various replies I have received.  First, as 
> long as TeX is TeX it will be required to produce dvi files.  As for pdf, 
> I have no doubt that when it is no longer supported, there will be 
> converters.  But the journal I help edit has several hundred papers in pdf 
> format (most also in dvi and ps).  Who will convert them.  It would be a 
> huge job and we run on zero budget.  To see what can happen, what would 
> you do with a Word file from, say, 1990?  Each version of Word can handle 
> files from the previous version or two, but no further.  So unless that 
> file was continually updated from version to version, it is effectively 
> dead.  I don't expect this to happen with pdf, but it illustrates the 
> problems.

The source of your document is neither dvi nor pdf nor ps: it is the
TeX-file. I don't care what happens to the end formats pdf or ps as
long as I'm able to process the source files to whatever format will

> I have one further problem with pdf.  I am accustomed to compiling a file, 
> previewing it, making changes and then iterate.  I cannot do that with the 
> Adobe reader.  I cannot write a new pdf file while the old one is loaded. 
> So exit the file from the reader, then compile the new version, load 
> the new file, and then find your place again.  I find this intolerable. 
> Someone once suggested a different pdf reader and I tried it and found it 
> unsatisfactory in other ways (I no longer recall why).  I'll stick to dvi, 
> thank you.

Well I prefer pdf even in the production phase because
- I can have bookmarks
- Copy and searching in the pdf is possible
- Zooming is faster
- it saves time: as I have to send pdf's I must check the pdf's
regularly anyway as the fact that it looks good in YAP doesn't mean
that the pdf is ok. 

Ulrike Fischer 

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