PDF versus PS (was Re: [OS X TeX] Newbie install and font question)

Bruno Voisin Bruno.Voisin at hmg.inpg.fr
Thu Mar 21 03:00:25 EST 2002

While I do understand Tom Kiffe's support of PS format, and appreciate 
all the points he made, I think some other points should be proposed in 
support of PDF format.

There is indeed a PDF previewer supplied with Mac OS X, it is Preview, a 
quite decent application more pleasant to use, in my opinion, than 
Acrobat Reader. As for bookmarks or hyperlinks, I don't use them. I like 
especially the fact that Preview prints the PDF file exactly as this 
file was designed to be, not reducing or enlarging it behind my back as 
Acrobat Reader does. This fits very well my principal use of PDF files, 
i.e. retrieving articles from online versions of scientific journals and 
viewing or printing them.

I do not agree than PDFs take longer to produce than DVIs. TexShop does 
it extremely well and fast, and I find the display of PDF files nicer to 
look at than that of DVI or PS files.

But first and before everything else, I appreciate the possibility, 
given to scientists by the advent of PDF, to exchange information 
efficiently and quickly. In my experience exchanging .tex or .dvi files 
never really worked, as your .tex or .dvi files needed fonts or packages 
that your correspondant usually didn't have, or at least not the same 
version. I'm not even speaking of included graphics! As for exchanging 
.ps files, this was almost impossible, given the size of usual .ps 
files, and the fact that your correspondant was often living in 
low-memory printer environment so couldn't easily print the file; and 
most people from the DOS/Windows/Mac world, in my experience, did not 
know GhostScript.

If your .ps file was too big, you had to compress it first. If your 
correspondant was Mac, this was all straightforward; but if he/she was 
Windows or Unix things were getting interesting. You had to retrieve 
some versions of Zip, tar and gzip archivers from somewhere (say ZipIt, 
suntar and MacGzip) and make sure all line ending conversions were 

Now this has radically changed with PDF. There are (I think) versions of 
Acrobat Reader for almost any platform known to man, and PDF files are 
(I think) binary files transferable directly without fuss. This has come 
to a point that editors of scientific journals often advise us to submit 
articles directly as PDFs, that can be sent immediately to reviewers and 
the reviews sent back to the editors also as PDFs. This really expedites 
the assessment/revision/publication process, I and my colleagues 
experienced it.

Bruno Voisin

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