[tex-live] Re: pdfetex the default engine

Staszek Wawrykiewicz staw at gust.org.pl
Mon Mar 29 06:28:46 CEST 2004

As the subject was somehow unfortunate and concerned the weekend before the
last one ('last weekend changes'), I've changed that thread to something 
already used.
Thomas and Karl kindly gave us quite good arguments:

TE> People are actually already using pdftex features for producing dvi,
TE> e.g. character protruding. So, the problem which we are discussing is
TE> nothing theoretical and already existing. That's why we already have
TE> good code which is aware of the fact that pdftex is running in dvi mode
TE> (geometry, ifpdf, graphics.cfg, color.cfg, ...).
TE> ....
TE> Why are we making that move to pdfetex? To save a few bytes? I don't
TE> think so. My impression was that the main idea was to be able to add
TE> new primitives (e.g. \pdftexbanner). We can do this with pdftex, but we
TE> can't do this with TeX.

KB> As for keeping the new primitives accessible, the clean answer is Hans'
KB> \pdfstate.
KB> ...
KB> I am certain that the number of
KB> documents using pdftex primitives in DVI mode is absolutely minuscule
KB> compared to the number of documents assuming \pdftex=undefined for DVI
KB> output.

My notes:
1. pdftex features for producing dvi are not documented at all (even me
   I don't know how to use character protruding ;-). Only very small group
   of people knows that, so they also know what to change in latex.ini.
2. as for the "latex" command (and similar already known for producing dvi)
   I still insist that it should be compatible with many existing documents
   and transparent for the user (see the example below). Perhaps I'm too
   conservative, but that's my role to see the user's point of view and
   checking many aspects :)
3. \pdfstate new primitive idea seems reasonable, but I'm not sure that
   could be implemented right now. Perhaps it would be sufficient to add
   a contrary pdftex-dvi.tex which would disable things found in
   pdftexconfig.tex and use it for standard dvi concerned .ini files.
   Somehow better than my first approach (\let\pdfoutput\undefined)
   but still bad if someone says: pdfetex --ini latex.ltx (rare exception!)

I'm really aware that BLU has enough problems with installation,
configuration, meaning of different texmf trees, etc., so I'd suggest
not introducing more traps. It seems inacceptable to say: now you have
to use ifpdf.sty or such things...
It is somehow like the latest thread on tetex mailing list: for lucida
fonts you have to use now (!?) \usepackage[T1]{fontenc}

The silly example of (bad) compatibility and usability of pdftex primitives
for dvi output, when latex.ini contains:
\input pdftexconfig\pdfoutput=0


\hrule width\pdfpagewidth


Staszek Wawrykiewicz
StaW at gust.org.pl

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