[pdftex] TeX as a composition server?

John Culleton john at wexfordpress.com
Sat Oct 23 18:47:56 CEST 2010

On Saturday 23 October 2010 04:41:12 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.
> 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.)

A book with  402 pages, plenty of footnotes and two passes with 
makeindex in between took about 11 seconds in a graphic window.  From 
a command line in a console session it took about 10 seconds. A single 
pass from the console session took 4 seconds.  From those numbers I 
estimate a rate of 100 pages a second or 6000 per minute. 

Memory is not a critical issue. TeX reads its input files sequentially 
and writes the output sequentially.  Some values are stored internally 
during a run. The pdftex program requires 1,356,692 bytes. pdflatex 
uses the same program, but acts differently because it is called with a 
different name. 
> 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.
All versions of TeX can use the hz adjustment. But sometimes the 
instructions are hard to find.
> 3) Will pdfTeX work with all the standard font formats?
Most forms of TeX deal with a dedicated font library with many 
choices. Most of them are Type 1. Luatex and Lualatex will go to the 
standard system font libraries instead and can use TTF and OTF fonts, 
but at the moment not Type 1, which still need to be installed in the 
dedicated TeX font library. Font usage is a complicated thing in TeX 
but with effort any font can be used.
> Apologies for my ignorance, but I'm eager to learn more.

There are no dumb questions. Sometimes there are dumb answers.

John Culleton, Wexford Press
"Create Book Covers with Scribus" $5.95 at

Free eps format barcode: http://www.tux.org/~milgram/bookland/

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