[pdftex] SVG Graphics

Ross Moore ross.moore at mq.edu.au
Fri Jun 10 05:08:56 CEST 2011

Hello Kip,

On 10/06/2011, at 12:26 PM, Kip Warner wrote:

> I would say that that is less frequently the case than the average user.
> In the less frequent case you mentioned, there is no reason why what you
> asked for couldn't be accommodated syntactically.

But why should syntax be required only for special cases,
rather than for all cases, in a unified way? 

>> Second, such conversions are not specific to tex-based workflows, so
>> we can rely on general purpose tools developed and supported by the
>> wider community.  Since these tools are open-ended, any attempt to
>> provide hooks from pdftex or luatex would at best provide a partial
>> solution.
> It still seems as though the makers of Texinfo thought everyone lived in
> a world of Emacs and read books in Info format only.

But manuals written in Info style is precisely the reason TeXinfo
exists at all. It was not designed to be an all-purpose document-writing 
system. That is what LaTeX is for, and ConTeXt.

What is it that you are really trying to achieve?
And why is it that you are using TeXinfo for it?

The general approach adopted in pdfTeX has been to only support
in the driver application things that cannot be done using macros.
There is a very good reason for that, as it avoids bloating the
application, and doesn't force upon users things that they may not 
want, without the (in principle) ability to change them at the level 
of personalised macros.

> I am still not
> really convinced that pdftex should require one to go out of their way
> to get a simple SVG into a document.

What is so special about SVG, among all possible graphics formats?

PostScript is much more powerful, but the best way to support it
has been through the separate processor provided by Ghostscript.
PDF is the natural derivative from PostScript, and its text-handling
capabilities form the basis (and target format) for pdfTeX, with
self-standing separate images able to be included and manipulated
(rotation, scaling etc.) with minimal fuss.

The only advantage that I can see about supporting SVG directly,
rather than importing image files, would be for drawing (simple ?) 
arrows and line-drawings, on and around parts of the text --- 
so that geometric properties, hence the final appearance of the page, 
are linked to specific words within the text, rather than to coordinate 
locations --- which can move as more text is added or deleted during 
the development of the document.

Much of this, though certainly not all, can be done already using 
the Tikz or Xypic packages for LaTeX or with pdfTeX's support 
for annotations. 
 --- and PSTricks similarly from when PostScript was the dominant final 
format; and this is still useable now with PDF, and some messing around 
with packages to invoke sub-processes or by use of Makefiles.

If the gain was really much more than this, then why hasn't anyone come 
forward to propose it and provide the impetus for such development? 
That's the way free software has always worked, in my experience.

> -- 
> Kip Warner -- Software Engineer
> OpenPGP encrypted/signed mail preferred
> http://www.thevertigo.com

Hope this helps,


Ross Moore                                       ross.moore at mq.edu.au 
Mathematics Department                           office: E7A-419      
Macquarie University                             tel: +61 (0)2 9850 8955
Sydney, Australia  2109                          fax: +61 (0)2 9850 8114

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