[pdftex] pdftex compression -- proposed addition to manual

Greg Black gjb at gbch.net
Sun Aug 26 14:42:26 CEST 2001

Timothy Murphy wrote:

| One of the advantages of literate program a la Knuth
| is that it makes it much easier to keep documentation and coding in sync.
| In fact it is quite difficult for them to diverge.

Can you substantiate this claim?  It seems to me that it is a
simple matter for the documentation to get out of whack with any
programming scheme.

| I think this is an important issue.
| For example, I would say that at least 50% of the Linux HOWTOs are useless
| because of changes in coding since they were written.

I don't doubt this, but I have seen no evidence that LP might
solve it.

| The great Ken Thompson said "A program should do one thing, and do it well".

To me, that provides support for the anti-LP brigade --- let the
documentation people write and maintain their part of the world;
and let the programmers, inspired by the documents, write the

I have really tried to get on the LP wagon.  I've studied the
documentation for most LP systems; I've read reams of LP code;
I've approached it with a positive attitude.  I've even written
a couple of LP programs.  But I keep seeing toy programs that
are far less readable/maintainable than they would have been
without the LP baggage.  And I have seen no serious LP-based
software that can compete with the non-LP code I write in my day

I'm not suggesting that it's impossible to write good software
using LP --- I'm a keen user of TeX and I believe it's of high
quality in terms of its functionality.  But I would want to
slash my wrists if somebody told me I had to work on its code.

It's not enough to say: "This method will make everything better
because of x, y and z."  It's necessary to conduct experiments
that demonstrate the truth of the claims.  I have not seen any
such research.  What I have seen is evidence that points the
other way.

I am convinced that other programming paradigms --- including
such ideas as structured programming and practices that
encourage clarity of expression and maintainability --- have
much more to offer than LP.

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