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Distributing dvi-files (was: Atomic encoding)


I don't think, that storing documents in dvi-format only is a good idea. I 
have made too many bad experiences. 

The first is, that dvi-files aren't really portable. Under VMS you have 
first to convert an ftp'ed dvi-file to the usual record structure (the 
easier task, if you know about it). The worse one is, that for some drivers 
(2 out of 4 at our site) you also should pad the last record with the magic 
end bytes instead of zeroes. Not very nice.

The second, os-independent problem is, that fonts are site specific. You 
cannot really trust that the recipient has the same fonts as you. Recently 
(about 6 month ago) I retrieved a paper in dvi format, which still includes 
the looooong outdated msxm and msym fonts. The result was a printout with 
missing characters. I asked for the TeX source code or a dvips ps file, but 
did get no reply from the authors.

There are other fonts which are withdrawn now, but may survive in dvi-files 
forever, like the 14 point versions of some AMS fonts.

To my experience, only TeX source code in seven bit ASCII code is really 
portable. Second best is a dvips postscript file for 300dpi.

--J"org Knappen.