[tex-live] PDF 1.5 by default in TL 2010

cfrees at imapmail.org cfrees at imapmail.org
Wed Jan 13 22:46:38 CET 2010

> And again, the point is not about TL users, but about people who will receive
> PDF produced by TL users. If it was about TL users, we could just assume that if
> they got a recent TL, they can also get a recent viewer, period.

For me, this is key. I use LaTeX in a world which has never (for the
most part) heard of it. The fact that I am not sending somebody a Word
document is already potentially (a) weird (b) awkward (c) annoying. If
there is *any* chance that the person or system receiving my CV/job
application/paper will not be able to double-click and open my document
immediately, without warnings and errors in their default PDF viewer, I
want to change my PDF output so it will work. Since I don't typically
know the person receiving the document and since I might forget to
change to a non-default setting, this means that in practice I want
pdftex to give me 1.4 by default. If TL 2010 changes the default, I'll
have to figure out how to change it/regenerate formats/whatever it is
you have to do. An installer option wouldn't help me because MacTeX
doesn't offer options on install as far as I remember. (Haven't
installed 2009 yet though.)

Should this type of consideration affect the choice of default for
2010? I don't know. Since I would currently hesitate to recommend TeX
to humanities users in any case because of compatibility problems with
journals/conferences/institutions requiring submissions in Word,
possibly not. Two compatibility issues requiring user awareness and
capability are not necessarily more of an obstacle than one. On the
other hand, the situation regarding compatibility with Word-requiring
receivers does seem to be improving to at least some extent with some
of the newer GUI converters available. (At least, pre-docx it looked
that way. Not sure what the situation is now.) So introducing a
second compatibility issue might prove to be the important obstacle.

Do I think it reasonable to assume that some of my recipients might
still be using AR5? Definitely. Certainly in 2004 there were people
still using AR3 or AR4. Not from choice but because that's what was
installed by default on university machines. To them, the failure of my
pdfs to open was incomprehensible. Things like versions of software
were just not things they thought about. The software was on the
machine. Someone sent a pdf. It worked or it didn't.

To me personally, it doesn't matter much. As long as there's
documentation somewhere I can find which tells me how to switch the
default output to 1.4, that's fine. It would potentially affect whether
I would think it reasonable or responsible to recommend TeX to somebody
in the humanities. But that may not really be an issue either. People
aren't exactly queueing up asking for information. (Or, rather,
sometimes they say my stuff looks nice but I tend to dissuade them from
investigating further since I doubt they typically care enough about
the output's appearance to tangle with TeX. I doubt that would have
persuaded me to make the switch.)

If the default is switched to 1.5, I think it would be very important
to make the potential implications of upgrading TL without changing the
format extremely clear to the user.

>> I argue that we should continue to (a) supply TL
>> documentation in PDF 1.4,
> I see no point in doing so. If people can install TL2010, they also can install
> a recent pdf viewer. If they really don't want to, we provide the documentation
> as plain old html too.

No argument here. I'd prefer to receive smaller PDFs. I don't think it
is TL users who should be the focus of concern here - certainly not TL
users updating to TL2010. My main concern is the people I send PDFs to
- not reading PDFs myself. Easy for me to say, perhaps. But there it
is. Disk space and download times are real issues for me (even though
I'm not on dial-up, MacTeX is a huge download).

An easy way to switch from 1.4 to 1.5 with compression on a
document-by-document basis would be very welcome. Smaller beamer
presentations would be great. Ideally, I'd like something which enabled
me to specify the choice by reference to the minimum AR version
necessary to read/use the document without losing anything rather than
my having to get to grips with various features of PDF which I never,
frankly, think about. In the same way that AA asks you to specify a
minimum version when you ask it to reduce file size.

- cfr

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