[Desktop_printing] Agenda proposal: Replace PostScript by PDF asjob transfer format

Kurt Pfeifle k1pfeifle at gmx.net
Tue Jan 10 08:23:02 PST 2006

On Monday 09 January 2006 23:00, Bastian, Waldo wrote:
> >   Date: Sat, 07 Jan 2006 23:14:58 +0100
> >   From: Till Kamppeter <till.kamppeter at gmx.net>
> >
> >   I have talked with Mike Sweet on the phone, for him all days in
> >   March are good. Also East coast is OK with him. He would like very
> >   much to come.
> >
> >   And Mike and me have aggreed on one proposal for changing the
> >   printing architecture under Linux and Unix:
> >
> >   The standard format for print job transfer should be moved from
> >   PostScript to PDF,


> What would the benefits of such a transition be? 

Using a more powerful graphic format (has builtin support for transparency
f.e.), that is more versatile and more supported by more vendors, platforms
applications, toolkits (at least in the long run).

With PDF, for printing "page independence" is guaranteed per se already (a
precondition to be able to print arbitrary page selections of a document,
or to create an n-up page layout, or to scale all or some pages to a 
different paper size, or re-order pages for booklet printing).

More and more printers are entering the market which are able to accept PDF
as their receiving format (converting it internally to whatever their marking
engine uses).

My listed reasons are by far not complete, and fairly randomly enumerated;
but given the fact that it looks like everybody (hardware vendors, CUPS and
Ghostscript developers and Linuxprinting.org maintainers...) seems to support
that transition, I am very pleased to see it happen.

> I understand that 
> compiled-in drivers isn't exactly the way to go, but are there benefits
> that would justify investing in such migration?
> So far the case for PDF seems to be rooted in a vague notion that xpdf
> is better maintained than ghostscript. 

Heh... *that* is for sure not the main reason for anyone to prefer PDF over
PostScript (even the Ghostscript developers, as it looks). BTW, the PDF 
format is derived from PostScript -- in a way it is the "natural successor" 
of it.

And may I add that the FreeNX development team is also very happy hearing
that we can in future expect PDF to be the "natural page description format"
when it comes to printing. It will make our support for NX (thin) client 
printing (where NX clients may run any OS: Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Unix) 
from any remote terminal server application (which could be Windows, Linux,
Mac OS X or Unix based too) soooooo much more painless and robust.

> I'm a bit skeptical about that 
> because my exposure to xpdf in a KDE context has been limited to
> security advisories about xpdf buffer overflows [1] and the
> unwillingness/desinterest of the xpdf maintainer to provide xpdf as a
> shared library implementation (hence poppler)

*This* is a different topic here.

And hopefully, by giving PDF more weight in itself on "our own" platform(s),
these security issues could also be tackled in a better coordinated way. At
least there would be more "natural interest" from each side.

OTOH, I do not yet see a "we'll all go XPDF" decision made, or a "we'll 
drop Ghostscript completely", or a "we'll have to pick one over the other".
It would be stupid to start such a preference game here -- they both have
their up- as well as downsides. And don't write off Ghostscript yet -- its 
PDF support has made *big* advances with 8.50/8.51 versions!

> Cheers,
> Waldo

Kurt    [who now has to read most of this thread in the first place, before
         responding to more mails by maybe repeating what others have already
         said before... ]

> [1]
> http://www.kde.org/info/security/advisory-20051207-2.txt
> http://www.kde.org/info/security/advisory-20050119-1.txt
> http://www.kde.org/info/security/advisory-20050120-1.txt
> http://www.kde.org/info/security/advisory-20041223-1.txt

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