[texhax] Changing papersize

Michael Barr barr at math.mcgill.ca
Wed Mar 24 21:35:43 CET 2010

On Wed, 24 Mar 2010, Pierre MacKay wrote:

> "On a longer
> >   view it seems to me that dvi is going to disappear as the standard 
> >   output. "
> I wish people wouldn't say things like that.  It is worse than unnerving.
> PDF is a Black  Box solution.  You can't analyse its content, absent some 
> grossly expensive commercial software.  You can't get usable PostScript from 
> it.  since everything you really need is compressed and encrypted, and all 
> the Structure Comments are eliminated.  That means that you can't repair the 
> Postscript in a text editor.  You can't deal with the annual botched 
> updates---like the one that suppresses all the characters in the Adobe Expert 
> character set---unless you purchase annual upgrades.
> There is no sense of archival stability in PDF.  (Just try an old PDF 
> containing Expert Character Set glyphs in a new version of Acrobat Reader if 
> you think there is.)  It is a nice, fairly compact way of dumping the final, 
> absolutely final, set-in-concrete copy to a commercial printer,*IF*  you can 
> get PDF/X-3 working, which requires yet another purchase of software---the 
> inchoate Ghostscript PDF converter module for PDF/X[1-5] doesn't really work, 
> and GhostScript still produces PDFs that make Acrobat Reader drop the Adobe 
> Expert Character set.  I can, in half an hours work per file, hand edit PDF 
> files to get those characters back onto the printout, but I have other uses 
> for those half hours.
> The increasing disregard of one of DEK's primary goals for TeX, archival 
> stability, is becoming quite worrying.
> Pierre MacKay

I could not agree more.  As far as I am concerned, dvi ought to remain the 
tex standard.  But I was calling it the way I saw it.  Increasingly, 
graphics programs, things like \rotate, and the paper size, appear not to 
be manageable in dvi.  Eventually, the only way I could get the legalpaper 
option to work was to use the geometry package and compile with pdflatex.

The problem may be in latex itself or it may be in the dvi viewer. 
Actually, Yap, the one supplied with Miktex is really dreadful.  When I 
recompile a 25 page paper that I am already viewing in Yap, it can a few 
minutes to update the picture and if I do it too quickly, it simply hangs. 
And there is no way of knowing how quickly is too quickly.  So one thing 
that would make dvi more viable is a better previewer.

In the online journal I am tex editor for, we are starting to get papers 
that, on account of graphics, cannot be properly compiled into dvi.  It is 
not a stream so far, just a few papers, but people I know have claimed 
that dvi is obsolete.  And if people start believing it, it will be so. 
To make it clear, I was not advocating the use of pdf files as the 
principle output format, but just reporting what I see happening.

Michael Barr

More information about the texhax mailing list