Please drop the DVI-with-pdfTeX hack! (was: [tex-live] [de.comp.text.tex] Re: hfoldsty und microtype - font problem)

Karl Berry karl at
Tue Sep 6 00:09:50 CEST 2005

    Doesn't that mean that even ifpdf.sty hasn't been adapted to work
    with this hack?

ifpdf.sty needs no adaptation.

    What is your view instead, Karl?  

That, what, five or six years of users doing \ifx\pdfoutput\undefined
are not "wrong".  I think it's unfair to call it just "sheer luck" or a
"bad assumption" that it worked.  That is (was) absolutely the standard
way to detect whether pdftex was running.  Don't blame users for doing
what everyone said to do, everyone else was doing, and when no
reasonable alternative was available.

Anyway, I've already said all that more than once, and apparently no one
else agrees, so whatever.  We've certainly broken backward compatibility
in other ways in other years, so I suppose there's no overwhelming
reason to keep this sacrosanct.  

As I recall, last year Volker, Hans, Jerzy, and others came back from
BachoTeX saying that we should not start using pdfetex for latex because
of precisely this issue.  At more or less the same time, I independently
suggested this "hack" so that the microtype stuff *could* be available
to latex while keeping \pdfoutput undefined, which seemed the best
compromise possible.

Now that we've had it this way for a year, we've at least given users
some warning and a chance to understand what's coming.  I don't suppose
anybody has cared or made use of it, but it's what we could do.

I do agree that, despite everything, relatively few documents ever did
\ifx\pdfoutput\undefined (or anything else) in the first place -- most
documents I've seen are written knowing whether they are going to
processed via pdflatex or latex/dvips/etc., and don't bother with any

I'd also like to mention that Robert Schlicht graciously agreed to at
least consider changing microtype.sty to test whether the microtype
functionality was present, rather than whether pdftex was running.
Which would eliminate most of the complaints, as far as I can tell.

Enough, got to get back to work or there will never be anything to


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