[tex-live] Re: Please drop the DVI-with-pdfTeX hack!

George N. White III aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca
Wed Sep 7 01:48:29 CEST 2005

On Tue, 6 Sep 2005, David Kastrup wrote:

> [...] The whole point of \pdfoutput from the start was that
> it could take two different values.  PDFTeX _never_ was PDF-only.

Except in the minds of many, probably most, users.  Users in my lab have 
been quite surprised to learn that you can generate .dvi with pdftex, and 
they don't yet fully trust pdftex, so in most cases, when they want .dvi 
they expect to use tex (and are starting to ask why they see pdfetex in 
log files).  The misconception was reinforced by editors or 
front-ends (4allTeX, WinEDT) that have a button or switch for .dvi or .pdf 
output implemented by switching programs.  Pdftex itself says:

$ pdfetex --help
Usage: pdfetex [OPTION]... [TEXNAME[.tex]] [COMMANDS]
    or: pdfetex [OPTION]... \FIRST-LINE
    or: pdfetex [OPTION]... &FMT ARGS
   Run pdfeTeX on TEXNAME, usually creating TEXNAME.pdf.
output-format=FORMAT   use FORMAT for job output; FORMAT is `dvi' or `pdf'

Users who don't use command-line tex have no idea where to put

The principle of one surprise at a time says let users get comfortable 
with seeing pdfetex in logs of jobs that create .dvi files, then spring 
the primitives on them in the next release.  The "\normalPRIMITIVE" hack
lets the few who understand how to use them get on with things, and 
should not be surprised when the "normal" prefix is dropped.

George N. White III  <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>

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