[pdftex] TeX as a composition server?

Paulo Ney de Souza desouza at math.berkeley.edu
Sat Oct 23 15:43:46 CEST 2010

On 10/23/2010 1:41 AM, Peter Davis wrote:
> I'm looking at the possibility of using TeX as a composition server, 
> something to compose blocks of text or pages in a high volume 
> workflow.  From what I've learned, TeX, and in particular pdfTeX, is 
> capable of producing output that's very similar to InDesign 
> composition, with suitable parameters.  So I have a few question 
> perhaps this audience can help with.

It is done all the time, many popular Math magazines and Calculus 
textbooks are produced this way. I would say that InDesign is capable of 
producing output close that is very similar to TeX composition tough ... :)

> 1) Is there any way to gauge roughly what kind of throughput I could 
> get? Could a single TeX process on a state-of-the-art Intel box, for 
> example, produce hundreds of pages per minute?  Thousands?  Tens or 
> hundreds of thousands?  (I'm assuming A4 or letter pages of just text.)

That depends a LOT on the type on input, varying from most text, middle 
way to mostly math-formulas down to the most expensive processing, 
tables and similar types of inputs. In any way you can expect 
thousands/minute on moderately complex set of inputs.

At MSP we re-process a fairly large part of our content inventory every 
day - for insertion of biblio links - and thousands/minute is the kind 
of throughput we get  on a standard math-journal, if you use a few 
tricks to preload classes, etc ...

> 2) Is it only pdfTeX which uses hz-program-like composition, with 
> glyph scaling, etc.?  If so, is it possible to use pdfTeX to produce 
> .dvi (or does .dvi prohibit the use of glyph scaling)?  I'd like to be 
> able to generate bitmaps for JPEG/GIF/PNG output as well as PDF.

Please don't tell me that you got a contract to produce ebooks from 
processing TeX input and separating each word into an image to build 
ePub files! Amazon has been looking for people to do this for them for 
some time now, but the results are SO bad that it should be banned!

> 3) Will pdfTeX work with all the standard font formats?

"all" is too large of a word - but it does most! Again, this will depend 
on your installation, etc ...

> Apologies for my ignorance, but I'm eager to learn more.
> Thank you.
> -pd

Came to the right place!

Paulo Ney

Paulo Ney de Souza
UC Berkeley - Mathematics

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