Re: PDF vs Markup Languages

From: Arthur Smith <apsmith_at_APS.ORG>
Date: Wed, 14 Oct 1998 14:30:22 -0400

On Wed, 14 Oct 1998 05:50:59 -0400, ingmar_at_DDS.NL wrote:

>On Wed, 9 Sep 1998 15:29:49 -0400, Arthur Smith <apsmith_at_APS.ORG> wrote:
>>Several issues have been brought up on PDF vs SGML. It should be mentioned
>>that PDF is as open as PostScript.
>I would personally be in favor of having some ML as a standard for publishing
>for all the mentioned reasons, it's easier to maintain, to translate, to
>index etc. PDF doesn't readily have these options.

Like I said in my original post - SGML is indeed important for
markup and machine comprehension of the structure of a document.
However, we and many others have no intention of converting pre-existing
documents (or even scanned-in pages) into SGML - this is prohibitively
expensive, and PDF provides a perfect solution for presentation of
such documents to readers. Even if we do extract SGML-like information
from these papers in some fashion, it is the PDF that will be the authoritative
version because that's what the original document was (assuming the PDF
is faithful to the original document layout). If we can get SGML or its
equivalent (and some versions of Latex are pretty close) out of authors,
that is by far the best option going forward.

>Another point of interest I would say is that the de facto standard for
>writing/publishing in the sciences in LaTeX, as witnessed by the number
>of journals that accept LaTeX input, the Eprints archive that consists of
>mainly LaTeX based sources.

That's only because, as far as the journals go, Latex is far easier to
convert to other things than any other common word processor format,
and as far as eprints go, fields of science that do not use LaTeX are not well
represented by the eprint archives. We have requested TeX from our authors
for over a decade now, and we still only get barely more than half our
submissions in useable Latex. 99% of the other authors use some other
electronic composition system (mostly Microsoft Word now). The experience
of the particle accelerator conferences recently has been that about 25% of their
authors use Latex, over 60% Word, and the rest a mish-mash of other word
processors. It varies very widely from field to field. Perhaps it is just
a matter of author education - but nobody is really in a position to
force authors to do anything. Journals do not want to reject important
papers because they were prepared with the wrong word processor.

Received on Tue Aug 25 1998 - 19:17:43 BST

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