[pdftex] distiller vs pdf(la)tex (not a flame war, just asking for info)

Prof Brian Ripley ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
Thu Nov 13 18:43:09 CET 2003

On Thu, 13 Nov 2003, franciszek holop wrote:

> hmm, Martin Schröder said that
> > On 2003-11-12 14:07:21 +0100, franciszek holop wrote:
> > > i am just about to engage in a holy war with a word/distiller
> > > man, but being as lame as i am when it comes to typography as
> > > a science i would like to ask you what (if any) advantages does
> > > pdf(la)tex have over adobe distiller (say 4.0).
> > 
> > What are you comparing? pdftex is a complete typsetting system
> > capable of producing pdf while distiller is only a ps->pdf
> > converter.
> i thought distiller provides a virtual printer driver you can
> select in e.g. msword.  so your word document is "printed" into
> a pdf file.  but i have never seen distiller.

It does, but that is not all it does.  It also provides a real printer 
driver called PDFWriter (or something), and it is a standalone 

> my theory is, that such a document printed from msword thru this
> virtual driver is inferior to pdftex's output, because the virtual
> printer driver can't make up the kerning and other typographical
> finessess that word can't do.  am i right?


I use Distiller to turn .ps into .pdf.  That is its raison d'etre, and it 
is better at it than ghostscript-based methods like ps2pdf.  If I have PDF 
versions of figures I often use pdflatex.  But for really critical 
applications like sending books to publishers the PDF that Distiller 
produces is trouble-free, and that produced by pdftex and whatever 
produced the embedded figures is sometimes not (and it may well be no 
problem of pdftex).

The non-Adobe tools such as ps2pdf have advanced a lot over the years.
We have Distiller 3.02 running on Solaris, still, and regret that Adobe 
only produced Windows/MacOS versions thereafter (or so they told us).

Brian D. Ripley,                  ripley at stats.ox.ac.uk
Professor of Applied Statistics,  http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~ripley/
University of Oxford,             Tel:  +44 1865 272861 (self)
1 South Parks Road,                     +44 1865 272866 (PA)
Oxford OX1 3TG, UK                Fax:  +44 1865 272595

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