PDF interlude

Don’t be alarmed. I’m still doing stuff. It’s just that I got out of the habit of writing insignificant things, and I’m sort of weaning myself from some distractions that really weren’t of any use to me. General Apple and Mac trivia, for example.

This entry has been prompted by a PDF document that has been generated from TeX, somehow, that is totally broken (a thesis). It won’t print, and Mac OS X’s Preview won’t even open the file. Ghostview gives lots of errors, but Adobe Acrobat displays it fine.

Isn’t this the type of thing that got us in trouble with HTML? If there is a standard, then documents with incorrect syntax simply should not be permissible. I know there are arguments for flexible syntax parsers, but the context there is a little different (RSS and so on; I don’t care to investigate the matter deeply).

The PDF format is supposed to be archive quality (or was, originally? I’m never too good with such facts), but it is becoming increasingly clear to me that it isn’t the panacea I had previously assumed it to be. I’ve had a PDF not print correctly on a set of business cards, with the printers substituting a font they thought “looked similar” but really didn’t look very good. (Next time I’ll know better.)

So, a short story long, getting a colleague to export the PDF to PostScript and re-distill it with Adobe Acrobat fixed the problem – but bleah! What a way to have to go about it.

I’d also like to mention that it’s a pity that theses published in 2003 still use bitmap fonts. While the technology was great for its time, bezier curves are totally the way to go now — smaller file sizes and faster, and generally higher-quality, output. (Neglecting the differences in designing a bitmap vs. vector font, but the differences are mostly academic, anyway.)

Ah well. One day I’ll never have to worry about document formats, but the way there is sure a struggle sometimes.