[OS X TeX] Problem with Printing --> Now: Document Types

Maarten Sneep maarten.sneep at xs4all.nl
Thu Nov 17 15:55:52 EST 2005

On 17 Nov 2005, at 2:19, Marcus Michalsky wrote:

> But I have another thing. Is there any good doc or can somebody  
> explain the document types ?
> I mean, what is DVI, PS, PDF, Metafont... How did it all work. Is  
> PDF only a container (because it needs the fonts...) Some kind of  
> vector graphics ?

dvi: DeVice Independent, the original binary output created by TeX.  
Remember, TeX is older than PostScript, and it needed some format to  
write to, without being tied to a specific typesetting engine or  
printer. div files contain only the positions of the elements  
(characters, included figures) on a series of pages. The need the  
external files (fonts, and figures) to display properly.

PS: postscript, a page description language created by Adobe. The de- 
facto printing standard. PostScript is a complete programming  
language, which has advantages and disadvantages (yes, you can write  
a worm in PostScript). The figures are included into the file, fonts  
can be included, but can be external as well.

PDF: a form of postscript that is easier to handle: it isn't a  
programming language, and the structure differs, but the drawing  
commands are very similar. All bits should be included, but a small  
set of fonts (the "base 14") should not be included, they are assumed  
to be available on the reader (Times, Helvetica, Courier, Symbol in  
roman, bold italic and bold-italic, I think I've missed one).

Metafont: apart from a typesetting language (TeX), Donald Knuth wrote  
his own fonts (Computer Modern) in his own typeface design language.  
Traditionally it produces bitmapped output, less than ideal for the  
current interactive displays (the fuzzy fonts in (older) versions of  
Acrobat. The language is very powerful, and different fonts can be  
created starting from the same sources, by just changing some  

MetaPost: a dialect of metafont, a drawing language to create figures  
for inclusion in TeX documents.

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