[texhax] dvi vs pdf

Pierre MacKay Pierre.MacKay at comcast.net
Thu Dec 2 20:02:17 CET 2010

On 12/2/2010 10:40 AM, Michael Barr wrote:
> Here is my reaction to the various replies I have received.  First, as
> long as TeX is TeX it will be required to produce dvi files.  As for
> pdf, I have no doubt that when it is no longer supported, there will
> be converters.  But the journal I help edit has several hundred papers
> in pdf format (most also in dvi and ps).  Who will convert them.  It
> would be a huge job and we run on zero budget.  To see what can
> happen, what would you do with a Word file from, say, 1990?  Each
> version of Word can handle files from the previous version or two, but
> no further.  So unless that file was continually updated from version
> to version, it is effectively dead.  I don't expect this to happen
> with pdf, but it illustrates the problems.
>
> I have one further problem with pdf.  I am accustomed to compiling a
> file, previewing it, making changes and then iterate.  I cannot do
> that with the Adobe reader.  I cannot write a new pdf file while the
> old one is loaded. So exit the file from the reader, then compile the
> new version, load the new file, and then find your place again.  I
> find this intolerable. Someone once suggested a different pdf reader
> and I tried it and found it unsatisfactory in other ways (I no longer
> recall why).  I'll stick to dvi, thank you.
>
Hear Hear!!!

I think I make about 50 passes through DVI for each article I prepare
for the journals I set.  Many of them are at the last stage---page
balancing---which often depends on adjustments as much as five pages
earlier than the bad page break I am correcting.
but none of these is likely to work on the first attempt.  (I have not
even mentioned \looseness, which someone condemned about a year ago as
useless. I could not live without it.) Of course, if there is no need
for balanced spreads, or verso-recto baseline alignment, none of these
refinements is needed, and these many passes through DVI can be avoided,
but no press I work with would accept feathering or ragged bottom
spreads unless I could show that there was ABSOLUTELY no alternative.
So far, that (ragged bottom---NO feathering) has happened only once in
twenty years of journal setting.

Pierre MacKay