[pdftex] OT: Linux AR 7.0 released: another comment

George White aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca
Sat Apr 30 14:44:12 CEST 2005

I disagree with the "OT" designation of this thread.  Many people use
pdftex to prepare documents for a very broad audience (including documents
that will be archived and should be useful a few centuries from now).  It
is critical to pdftex users that high quality viewers are widely available
now and "forever".

On Sat, 30 Apr 2005, Nelson H. F. Beebe wrote:
> Part of the problem with Adobe Acrobat is that there are three
> different development groups: Windows, Mac OS, and Unix.  They only
> get together at intervals to merge the results of their work.  The
> first two groups are large, but the last is small: 2--5 people.

Adobe gets no direct revenue from sales of Acrobat on linux, so I assume
there are enough i386 linux machines to justify supporting Reader on i386
linux as a selling point for Acrobat over Win32-centric document
production systems.  

> I strongly suggested to them in our visits there that their
> development model should be changed to work with a thin virtual
> platform-independent windowing layer, that was largely independent of
> the features of Acrobat, with all the rest of the work devoted to the
> code common to all platforms.
> If they did it right, all versions would work identically, have the
> same GUI appearance, and be released on the same day.  To support this
> model, I told them that in xpdf, a GPLed PDF viewer for the X11 Window
> System, only about 10% of the code is devoted to the window interface;
> I expect that the figures for Acrobat should be similar.

What are the examples of X11 apps that have been ported to Win32 or vice
versa?  gsview?

I suspect it would take a huge effort to port xpdf to Win32 and get decent
performance with win32 look and feel.  Adobe Reader usually works well
even on low-end Win32 hardware, but is not tolerant of buggy video and
printer drivers, suggesting that it exercises parts of the Win32 graphics
API that aren't used by MS itself.  OpenOffice.org and Mozilla are
probably more relevant models for cross-platform GUI development, but
I don't know if they work on low-end win32 hardware.

George White <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca> <gnw3 at acm.org>
189 Parklea Dr., Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia  B3Z 2G6

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