[pdftex] pdftex versus dvips

Tigran Aivazian tigran at aivazian.fsnet.co.uk
Sun Oct 2 20:02:42 CEST 2005

On Sun, 2 Oct 2005, Christoph Schiller wrote:

> Since a number of years, I have been putting a large pdf produced with Latex
> on the web for free download ( a 1200 page physics textbook,
> available at http://www.motionmountain.net ).
> I have always typeset it with dvips, not with pdflatex, for several reasons:
> - the pdf (at present 40 MB...) is considerably smaller when produced with
> dvips and Acrobat distiller;

I also was using latex for many years and in particular for Bible 
typesetting for 4-5 years, but 1.5-2 years or so ago I switched to 
pdfLaTeX because the pdf files produced were considerably smaller than via 
latex/dvips route (or even dvipdf route). Later on I used various cool 
pdfLaTeX features, but the size was one of the original reasons NOT to use 

You can see for yourself --- here are the files:


kjv.dvi produced with latex
kjv.ps  produced with dvips from kjv.dvi
kjv.pdf produced with pdflatex
kjv-ps2pdf.pdf produced with ps2pdf from kjv.ps
kjv-dvipdf.pdf produced with dvipdf from kjv.dvi

$ l
total 2688
-rw-rw-r--  1 tigran tigran 443488 Oct  2 18:51 kjv.dvi
-rw-rw-r--  1 tigran tigran 686372 Oct  2 18:53 kjv-dvipdf.pdf
-rw-rw-r--  1 tigran tigran 452970 Oct  2 18:50 kjv.pdf
-rw-rw-r--  1 tigran tigran 658658 Oct  2 18:52 kjv.ps
-rw-rw-r--  1 tigran tigran 480689 Oct  2 18:55 kjv-ps2pdf.pdf

As you see, the most optimal way to produce complex pdf files is by using 
pdflatex. In my typesetting environment I keep DVIOUT=1 ("produce dvi 
output") option only for the sake of quickly measuring things using xdvi 
(neither xpdf nor Adobe Acrobat reader for Linux have a measuring rule, so 
I use xdvi for exact measurements).

There may be some valid reasons to keep latex and dvi output, but to be 
honest I cannot imagine any valid reason except the following two:

o using xdvi for measurements as I mentioned above. But if Adobe fix their 
reader to have a simple measuring rule, or if some kind person fixes xpdf 
to have this, then the last reason to have dvi will vanish.

o support people like yourself who still haven't switched to pdflatex, but 
this, imho, is only a matter of time.

The other more subtle things may have to do with more complex algorithms 
used in pdflatex (character protruding?) but I thought that by default all 
these are disabled and all the page/line breaks are exactly the same as 
when produced with latex.

Kind regards

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