[texhax] latex vs. pdflatex

Ross Moore ross at ics.mq.edu.au
Thu Oct 16 13:26:31 CEST 2003

Hi Karl, everyone

On Wed, 15 Oct 2003, Karl Berry wrote:

> As others mentioned, TeX distributions these days provide both anyway --
> I don't know of any that don't.  Certainly TeX Live does.
> That said, if you absolutely must pick one or the other, I would pick
> pdftex, except in the unlikely event that you care about non-PostScript
> output.  The reason is that pdf can be converted to PS with (I believe)
> no loss of information, while going from DVI to PDF via dvipdfm or
> ps2pdf can introduce quality degradation and font issues far more
> troublesome than the original .sty ones.  In my experience, anyway.

The most relevant issue is not about non-PostScript output, but
about using PostScript features that cannot be accessed in PDF.
Yes, there are many examples of this; e.g. all of the PStricks package,
and many of the advanced features of Xy-pic.

There are various programming techniques;
 e.g.  pdfTricks  and  LaTeX2HTML
that require use of a  dvi --> ps --> "other format"
sequence in the overall processing.

Yes, the pdfTeX binary could be used with  \pdfoutput = 0
to obtain this; but I doubt that this would get around the package
compatibility issues that the original poster claimed he has faced.

If such compatibility issues are causing a problem then it is these
that should be faced and fixed. Removing support of one binary
is not an adequate solution, in my view; it's likely to create
a different set of problems without really fixing the ones that
prompted the action.

All the best,

	Ross Moore

> Happy sysadmin-ing,
> karl
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