[pdftex] Print color doc LaTeX

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Thu Jan 21 02:26:39 CET 2010

On 20 January 2010 Jan Öhman wrote:

 > Hello!
 > I'm new on this program (LaTex), and wonder if I've found the right 
 > solution.
 > (Don't know if this is the right place for my questions)
 > My wish is:
 > To automatically make a "dynamic" document, which is possible to print.
 > My Problem:
 > I would like to make an overview of a directory tree of approximately 
 > 100 directories.
 > I can make a program that produces a text file that I can print,
 > but I can't control either the font or color on the printed page.
 > Can I use the "LaTeX" to do this?

I fear that you don't have many choices.  I suppose that you want to
create PDF and want to use free software.  There are a few tools which
can produce PDF (AFAIK there is a Perl module), the advantage of TeX
is that it's the most advanced system and you can do almost everything
with it conveniently.  Since TeX expects plain text files as input,
it's the ideal tool for automatically created contents.

There are virtually no limits, see:


If TeX can create such a PDF file, it's obvious that your requirements
are not very challenging.  Regarding all the questions in your other
emails, I'm sure that TeX is always your friend.

TeX, the program, is very useless without any extension.  The most
famous extensions are

 * plain TeX
 * LaTeX
 * Context

Plain TeX is the simplest one and both, LaTeX and Context extend its
functionality.  I don't recommend it if you want to do fancy things
without much effort.  However, it's extremely fast.  If you have to
create many PDF files automatically within a short amount of time, you
should consider plain TeX, even if you have to re-invent a lot of
wheels yourself.

LaTeX is more advanced, but slower.  It can be extended easily by
including macro packages.  There are zillions of them.  If you want to
control paper size and margins, you say \usepackage{geometry} and
consult the documentation of the geometry package for further
instructions.  If you want to use colors, include the color package
and read it's documentation.  And so on.  Since LaTeX is quite old,
many people wrote macro packages for almost everything imaginable and
many books were written about LaTeX.

Context is definitely the most advanced system.  It's even slower than
LaTeX.  The features provided by macro packages in LaTeX are supported
by Context natively, hence it's more consistent.  However, IMO its
biggest drawback is that no books about Context are available.  There
is a lot of documentation available though, but not everybody wants to
spend his whole life in front of a computer screen.

Which of the three alternatives is best for you depends on your
requirements.  If in doubt, use LaTeX.  If you are still unsure,
provide more information about your project. 

Did you install a TeX system already?  I recommend TeX Live.


Please note that TeX Live and MikTeX are TeX system distributions,
tex, latex, pdftex, pdflatex,... are programs.

BTW, it would be better to move the discussion to the texhax mailing
list.  Your questions are not pdftex specific.  And please don't send
mails with different subject entries if they are related to one and
the same problem.


Reinhard Kotucha			              Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover	                      mailto:reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Microsoft isn't the answer. Microsoft is the question, and the answer is NO.

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