PDF (was Re: Sources for 8b TTL keyboards (Keytronics))
ray at arachelian.com
Wed Dec 10 05:56:15 CST 2008
Now that this topic has strayed far from TTL keyboards, and into either
PRO or ANTI PDF formats, can we at least change the subject line?
Please? Drifting off subject does tend to be endemic here, please, do
change the subject line once it has nothing to do with the conversation.
It's perfectly fine to discuss it as it does relate to our hobby, and
yes, it's over 10 years old ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PDF )
IMHO, I think PDF is wonderful. It does a far better job than HTML at
rendering documents. No, I'm not proposing the replacement of HTML on
websites with PDFs.
It can be better than PostScript in terms of the compression and can be
searchabe. For example, you can guarantee that the font you want your
document to be displayed in doesn't have to exist on the viewer's
machine or printer. Unlike PS, it can have a table of contents and
bookmarks. For our hobby, you can use it to scan in large paper
documents, and OCR them, but display the images instead of the
unreliable OCR'ed text, and use the OCR to allow the end user to search.
PDF's were designed to be portable, that's what the "P" stands for.
It's an open standard. If you don't like viewer from Adobe because it
is bloatware, (and I don't) there are alternatives. There are also
plenty of tools with which to create PDF's, including imagemagick which
is useful if you've scanned in an old 500 page document.
Yes, it can be much more expensive than HTML, 50M PDFs are quite common,
but it does offer a lot of advantages over plain text and over HTML.
But to save a document as HTML means to have it saved as multiple files,
which would include style sheets, images, and other stuff.
Plain text may be considered a standard, but whose? EBCDIC or ASCII?
ASCII or PETSCII? or ATASCII? CR? CRLF? LF? 7-bit or 8-bit? If it's
8-bit whose encoding? How do you italicize, underline or bold with
plain text? (Yes, I know, if you're printing, you can send back spaces
and stamp over the same character multiple times to do underline or
bold, or accents, but what about on a CRT?)
That said, I do think that plain text is wonderful, except as mentioned,
there's really no such thing as true plain text.
RTF? Meh, some of us are allergic due to it being a blood-relation to
that monstrosity from Redmond that claims to be a program that
supposedly processes words.
Good luck trying to edit RTF with something like vi - far worse than HTML.
Yes, PDFs can be evil, you can prevent the end user from modifying,
copying, or printing the document. Yes, while working at a hedge fund
many years ago, I saw that someone had written a DRM plug in for Acrobat
(and Acrobat only at that) that locked down documents for viewing only
by specific machines.
Yes, I think HTML is wonderful too. I dislike the syntax, and I don't
agree that XML and its derivates are really human readable - they can
be, but a lot of the time they aren't, and there are a lot of problems
with HTML - namely that CSS and HTML have completely different syntaxes
so if you wish to edit web pages, you have to learn a ton of stuff, and
it can be painful, but at least I can almost always use vi to edit HTML.
So as with everything, there is a right tool for the job. If you feel
RTF or HTML or plain text (whatever that means) is the right tool for
the job, use that. Tools aren't bad or good or evil, they're just tools.
Blaming the tools is silly. Nobody is forcing anyone to use a hammer
with to nail a screw, especially when screwdrivers exist.
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