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Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

Adobe's Acrobat Software

Dear CNL Editor,

I have noticed that the CERN Library Preprint server proposes to save documents (for example, the LEP 200 Workshop transparencies) locally under standard formats, including the PDF format. As far as I understood, this Portable Document Format requires Acrobat software (partly freely available from Adobe). Should I consider, that Adobe's Acrobat will be included in the official CERN software, maintained on supported UNIX platforms?

With my best regards,

Pierre Juillot, PPE

Dear Pierre,

At present the answer is ``no''.

PDF is indeed an interesting format to store documents, since it provides typographic quality (in fact there is no difference between the output generated directly from PostScript and that generated from the corresponding PDF format). As I explained in my article in the last CNL, we already have generated several documents in PDF (taking advantage as much as possible of the cross-reference possibilities of LaTeX by translating them into the corresponding PDF pdfmark commands). The main problem is, however, that the PDF reader, presently available free of charge from Adobe, only runs on PC (DOS and Windows), Mac, and Sun (SunOS and Solaris), so, unless you have access to one of those machines, PDF is not of much use to you. We are at present testing the PDF facilities included in Ghostscript 3.33, but this runs rather slowly, and the corresponding version of Ghostview is not yet very robust. Moreover, PDF viewers are not CERN software, but fall in the category of commercial freely available packages, that can be, on a trial basis (like Netscape), installed on the central servers, after checking that CERN can do that legally. At present, I repeat, only Suns are supported on Unix (and no VMS support is in view), so we are far from a general tool. If we consider actually ``generating'' PDF, then we need at present Adobe's Acrobat Distiller tool, that costs about 1000Fr a copy and runs only on Microsoft Windows on PC and on the Mac. Although not everybody needs to generate PDF documents, we still need a mechanism whereby somebody (group, service) provides such a service and setting up such a system is far from simple. Therefore we prefer to test these tools thoroughly ourselves first, before introducing them to a wider user community.

I hope this answers some aspects of your question. One thing is certain, PDF will be an important tool in the field of document delivery, although other (complementary) forms, like HTML, will remain equally necessary.

Michel Goossens, CN/ASD.

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Janne Saarela
Fri Jun 23 10:54:20 METDST 1995