[pdftex] pdftex versus dvips

George N. White III aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca
Mon Oct 3 14:35:37 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:

Before pdftex appeared Y&Y's dvipsone gave better results with distiller 
provided you are working with Type 1 fonts.

> - the pdf (at present 40 MB...) is considerably smaller when produced with
> dvips and Acrobat distiller;
> - I use raw postscript in the latex file (to make flip movies);

The documents I encounter (mostly scientific reports with line art and 
color images) generally result in similar sized PDF's.  The exceptions
are when images are massaged for screen viewing and documents that place
the same image (logo or slide background) on many pages where more work
is needed to get similar sized files with pdftex.

It would be nice to collect a few cases histories where postscript 
workflows are converted to PDF.

> - I use pstricks and similar packages which also use raw dvips (I think)
> such as random picture coordinates.

We have a collection of figures created with pstricks and other tools.
Most are converted to Adobe Illustrator EPS with the fonts converted to 
outline paths.  For use with pdftex they can be saved as pdf or converted
with ghostscript or distiller.  We deal with some publishers Japan and
elsewhere who need to do things like translating axis lables and
they are all very fond of Illustrator on their ancient Macintoshes.
Maybe in a few years they will be on linux.

> Now we are nearing the end of 2005. Are these arguments still correct?

Someone mentioned microtype.

Another aspect that is often ignored is the role of 
maintainers/developers.  Are the very limited resources of the TeX 
maintainers/developers are better spent maintaining tools for dvi- or 
pdf-based workflows?  With dvi, the developers have to deal with the
problems of creating and viewing documents.  Who is maintaining .dvi 
viewers on Win32 these days?  Because pdf is "mission critical" to the 
vast majority of people who have never heard of TeX, there are lots of
robust 3rd-party tools to help with a pdf workflow, and TeX maintainers 
and developers can focus on a smaller and less system-dependent body of 

Finally, while there is some truth to the adage: "If is ain't broke, don't 
fix it", just because the train is rolling smoothly down the track at the 
moment doen't mean the track will be good around the next corner. 
The trend towards more dynamic documents with richer content may create 
pressures for massive changes to existing workflows.

George N. White III  <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>

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