FMi on text symbol encodings

Rebecca and Rowland
Wed, 3 Mar 1999 13:56:06 -0500

>Rebecca and Rowland writes:
> > Hmmm....  Not so sure about that - some people use computers that can't use
> > any version of ATM or Ghostscript that's currently available[1].  In any
>what about ps2pk? I dont see why anyone would not be able to use that

Have you looked at OzTeX and CMacTeX recently?  No sign of ps2pk at all.  I
can't use it.

> > case, ATM costs money
>it is effectively free in Acrobat Reader

Eh?  Not on my computer it's not.  The Acrobat Reader installer will
install a private version of ATM for it alone to use.  Nothing else can use
it.  With a normal ATM installed, I can use PS Type 1 founts directly with
my normal dvi driver, which is convenient for me.  Going via pdftex loses
the ability for me to include graphics conveniently, and it's very slow
(not to mention the fact that I never did work out how to tell pdftex about
PS Type 1 founts, although I gather that more recent versions use the same
fount mapping file format as dvips which should make life a bit easier).

> >  and Ghostscript is slow and not all that good at
> > rendering PS Type 1 founts (as well as being very awkward to use and very
>in what sense "not at all that good"? you may tell the difference,
>but older chaps like me with bad eyes cannot

What resolution printer are you thinking of?

> > What about all those people with old MS-DOS computers and no (expensive)
> > PostScript printer?

Not everyone can run Ghostscript, and it's very slow.

> > Yes, pdftex will be a solution one day, but only when it's been fully
> > developed.
>what are you waiting for, exactly? i am in the middle/end of producing
>a book with it.

I'm waiting for a well documented version of pdftex that I can set up and
use on my computer.  The famous SPQR can obviously do without pdftex
documentation.  Mere mortals like me can't.

The version of pdftex that came with CMacTeX confused the hell out of me
and I've no idea how to go about including graphics with it.  Not only
that, but (as I recall) it couldn't handle `straight' LWFN PS Type 1
printer founts and I had to convert them to some foreign pfb format before
I could use them.  This chews up my rapidly shrinking available disc space.

> >  Even then, not all computers have a pdf reader readily
> > available for them.
>yes, but _in practice_ surely you have one of
> - a PS printer
> - Ghostscript
> - Acrobat
>on any given system? really.

No, not really.  Acrobat is expensive, as are PS printers.  You need to be
able to produce pdf file output to use Acrobat Reader which isn't that easy
with pdftex on my computer at least, and I can't afford Adobe Acrobat.
Ghostscript and Acrobat Reader won't run on most of my computers[1].

On top of that, using Acrobat Reader or Ghostscript as a TeX preview is
*incredibly* slow and clumsy (not to mention very, very unreliable in the
case of Ghostscript) on my computers when compared to my normal `TeX it,
preview it' with keystrokes method of operation I have.  To use
Ghostscript, for example, I have to TeX a document (easy), dvips it (an
irritatingly slow and clumsy process), and then fire up Ghostscript
(likewise slow) and tell it to render the PS file (again, irritatingly slow
to tell it to do the job and irritatingly slow while it actually does it).

In short, LaTeXing in ps or pdf on my computer isn't really practical for
everyday jobs even though it's possible.


[1]  Admittedly, I'd only expect to be able to TeX stuff on three of the
computers I've got - a Mac with 512K RAM, a BBC Micro, or a ZX81 (even with
16K RAM pack) aren't really practical TeX platforms.