TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Oct 98 Online

Volume Number: 14 (1998)
Issue Number: 10
Column Tag: MacTech Online

Getting It In Print

by Jeff Clites, online@mactech.com

Not too many years ago a document was, almost by definition, something which lived on paper. Although the print-based heritage remains, today we think of digital documents just as often. Interestingly, at the same time the distinction between a document and the information it contains has blurred, and where it was once clear (though possibly arbitrary) where one document ends and another begins, it is now more difficult to define. This month we're going to focus on the concept of the document, from several different perspectives.

PostScript

PostScript and the Mac OS have had an interesting relationship, and one which is still continuing to evolve. Apple's LaserWriters were among the first PostScript printers to hit the market, and they helped spark the desktop publishing revolution. The first generation of Apple's new operating system, OS X Server (formerly Rhapsody), will inherit NeXT's use of Display PostScript as its imaging model, later to be replaced by Apple's own resolution-independent graphics subsystem, Extended QuickDraw. Even so, it is likely that PostScript will remain the lingua franca of high-end printing for a while to come, and as a developer it can be helpful to have at least a passing acquaintance with the language and concepts - and under the current Mac OS it is almost essential if you want to print rotated text, for instance.

In actuality, PostScript is a programming language, and a PostScript document is really a program - it just happens to be a program which focusses on producing graphics on a page (a page-description language). The official home of PostScript is of course Adobe's site, and programmers wishing to learn the language can find a wealth of technotes there, along with a bibliography and links to other resources on the web. Beginners can start at A First Guide to PostScript, which includes an operator reference, and you can download an archive containing the entire site for easy off-line viewing. The second place to stop is the RightBrain Software site, where the author of Thinking in PostScript, now out of print, has generously provided a PDF version of the book for free download. And no developer should be without Ghostscript, a free interpreter which allows PostScript files to be viewed, printed to non-PostScript printers, or converted to PDF format.

Adobe's Technical Notes for Developers
http://www.adobe.com/supportservice/devrelations/technotes.html
A First Guide to PostScript
http://www.cs.indiana.edu/docproject/programming/postscript/postscript.html
RightBrain Software
http://www.rightbrain.com/pages/books.html
Ghostscript, Ghostview and Gsview
http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/index.html

PDF

Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) has become the standard for digital documentation which is platform-independent and which prints beautifully in addition to being easily viewable on-screen. Like PostScript, PDF is a final format, as opposed to a revisable format, meaning that it is intended as a format for a finished document rather than for a file which will be edited further. (Although it is possible to modify both sorts of documents after they are generated, and it is easier with PDF documents than with PostScript files.) While PostScript documents are really programs, PDFs are more naturally thought of as object databases. Apple has indicated that PDF will play an important role as a graphics format in OS X, so it may become important for developers to have at least a passing acquaintance with its inner workings.

For those interested in looking under the hood of PDF now, there are a number of independent web sites devoted to the topic, and Adobe's site has the freely available PDF specification and links to other sources of information. The two best sites to get you started are Acrobuddies and the PDF Research Companion. They have a number of documents which explain the structure of PDF files, as well has how to use them or produce them from within an application.

Adobe PDF
http://www.adobe.com/prodindex/acrobat/adobepdf.html
Acrobuddies
http://www.roundtable.com.au/acrobuddies/acrobuds.htm
PDF Research Companion
http://www.performancegraphics.com/

TeX

TeX is a typesetting system invented by Donald Knuth. In his words, it is "intended for the creation of beautiful books - and especially for books that contain a lot of mathematics." It is widely used today to produce technical publications, most often using the LaTeX macro package. In brief, an author prepares a plain text document in the TeX language, and later compiles it into final form (for instance, as PostScript).

Much of the hassle of preparing large documents is lessened by TeX-not only can you quickly set complicated equation, but also it is very easy to build an index or reformat for different paper sizes or for output in different fonts, for example. Its chief strength may be that it gives you fine control over the appearance of you document when you want it, and handles things automatically when you don't. There are also numerous add-on packages to extend the language, for instance allowing you to create complex graphics or display chemical structures.

TeX is somewhat complex to learn, but many swear by it. It does show its Unix heritage, and the chief hurdle for a Macintosh user may be getting used to a TeX system which usually consists of several different applications and associated files rather than a single application. The place to start is unquestionably the Mac TeX/LaTeX Software Page, with links and descriptions of most of the TeX resources available to Mac users. Among other things, this site has current information on the two most popular shareware packages, CMacTeX and OzTeX, and recommendations on references for beginners.

Macintosh TeX/LaTeX Software Page
http://www.esm.psu.edu/mac-tex/
TeX Frequently Asked Questions
http://www.cogs.susx.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html?introduction=yes

SGML

The Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) is the final step of abstraction of a document, where content is completely separated from presentation. Like HTML, stretches of plain text are tagged by text within angle brackets, but the idea is to label the logical structure of the document rather than its appearance - content rather than form. How an SGML document is displayed, if it is displayed at all, is decided separately. (Note that HTML 4.0 is explicitly defined as an SGML application.)

The upshot of this rigid separation is that the same document can be retargetted to different methods of output (or different uses) without modification. So, the exact same source can be used to produce an HTML version of a document for publication on the web, a PDF version for distribution on CD, a TeX version for producing printed documentation, and a plain-text version for posting to a newsgroup. In some cases, the target may not be formatted output at all - the markup may be used to tag information for entry into a database.

ArborText has an excellent introduction to SGML and much of the terminology surrounding it, and A Gentle Introduction to SGML provides a more detailed description. XML for Managers describes XML, a subset of SGML developed for web deployment. To delve deeper, the SGML/XML web page is the comprehensive source of information available on the web. There are many books relating to SGML technology (see the last-mentioned site for a large bibliography), but Parseme.1st: SGML for Software Developers by Sean McGrath (ISBN: 0134889673) is a clear and well-illustrated introduction aimed at developers.

SGML: Getting Started
http://www.arbortext.com/wp.html
A Gentle Introduction to SGML
http://sable.ox.ac.uk/ota/teip3sg/
XML for Managers
http://www.arbortext.com/xmlwp.html
The SGML/XML Web Page
http://www.sil.org/sgml/sgml.html

SDF

Finally, I want to mention the Simple Document Format (SDF). It is simpler and less general than SGML, but its goal is to provide an author-friendly markup language for producing documents which can be output in multiple formats from the same source. (Supported output formats include HTML, PostScript, PDF, LaTeX, SGML, POD, RTF, and plain text.) It is Perl-based, and the author has indicated that MacPerl-specific instruction are forthcoming. If your goal is to find a simple way to produce documentation with a minimum of duplicated effort, this may be a good place to start.

SDF - The Author-friendly Markup Language
http://www.mincom.com/mtr/sdf/

These and oodles of other links are available from the MacTech Online web pages at www.mactech.com/online/.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Paperless 3.0.6 - $69.95
Paperless is a digital documents manager. Remember when everyone talked about how we would soon be a paperless society? Now it seems like we use paper more than ever. Let's face it - we need and we... Read more
BetterTouchTool 3.141 - Customize multi-...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom)... Read more
TextMate 2.0.rc.29 - Code/markup editor...
TextMate is a versatile plain text editor with a unique and innovative feature set which caused it to win an Apple Design Award for Best Mac OS X Developer Tool in August 2006 A rapidly growing... Read more
Little Snitch 4.4.1 - Alerts you about o...
Little Snitch gives you control over your private outgoing data. Track background activity As soon as your computer connects to the Internet, applications often have permission to send any... Read more
Little Snitch 4.4 - Alerts you about out...
Little Snitch gives you control over your private outgoing data. Track background activity As soon as your computer connects to the Internet, applications often have permission to send any... Read more
MPlayer OSX Extended 16 - Multimedia pla...
MPlayer OSX Extended is the future of MPlayer OSX. Leveraging the power of the MPlayer and FFmpeg open source projects, MPlayer OSX Extended aims to deliver a powerful, functional and no frills video... Read more
Google Chrome 75.0.3770.142 - Modern and...
Google Chrome is a Web browser by Google, created to be a modern platform for Web pages and applications. It utilizes very fast loading of Web pages and has a V8 engine, which is a custom built... Read more
Notability 4.0.4 - Note-taking and annot...
Notability is a powerful note-taker to annotate documents, sketch ideas, record lectures, take notes and more. It combines, typing, handwriting, audio recording, and photos so you can create notes... Read more
ffWorks 1.3.1 - Convert multimedia files...
ffWorks, focused on simplicity, brings a fresh approach to the use of FFmpeg, allowing you to create ultra-high-quality movies without the need to write a single line of code on the command-line.... Read more
EtreCheck Pro 6.0.2 - For troubleshootin...
EtreCheck is an app that displays the important details of your system configuration and allow you to copy that information to the Clipboard. It is meant to be used with Apple Support Communities to... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

TEPPEN guide - Tips and tricks for new p...
TEPPEN is a wild game that nobody asked for, but I’m sure glad it exists. Who would’ve thought that a CCG featuring Capcom characters could be so cool and weird? In case you’re not completely sure what TEPPEN is, make sure to check out our review... | Read more »
Dr. Mario World guide - Other games that...
We now live in a post-Dr. Mario World world, and I gotta say, things don’t feel too different. Nintendo continues to squirt out bad games on phones, causing all but the most stalwart fans of mobile games to question why they even bother... | Read more »
Strategy RPG Brown Dust introduces its b...
Epic turn-based RPG Brown Dust is set to turn 500 days old next week, and to celebrate, Neowiz has just unveiled its biggest and most exciting update yet, offering a host of new rewards, increased gacha rates, and a brand new feature that will... | Read more »
Dr. Mario World is yet another disappoin...
As soon as I booted up Dr. Mario World, I knew I wasn’t going to have fun with it. Nintendo’s record on phones thus far has been pretty spotty, with things trending downward as of late. [Read more] | Read more »
Retro Space Shooter P.3 is now available...
Shoot-em-ups tend to be a dime a dozen on the App Store, but every so often you come across one gem that aims to shake up the genre in a unique way. Developer Devjgame’s P.3 is the latest game seeking to do so this, working as a love letter to the... | Read more »
Void Tyrant guide - Guildins guide
I’ve still been putting a lot of time into Void Tyrant since it officially released last week, and it’s surprising how much stuff there is to uncover in such a simple-looking game. Just toray, I finished spending my Guildins on all available... | Read more »
Tactical RPG Brown Dust celebrates the s...
Neowiz is set to celebrate the summer by launching a 2-month long festival in its smash-hit RPG Brown Dust. The event kicks off today, and it’s divided into 4 parts, each of which will last two weeks. Brown Dust is all about collecting, upgrading,... | Read more »
Flappy Royale is an incredibly clever ta...
I spent the better part of my weekend playing Flappy Royale. I didn’t necessarily want to. I just felt like I had to. It’s a hypnotic experience that’s way too easy to just keep playing. | Read more »
Void Tyrant guide - General tips and tri...
Void Tyrant is a card-based dungeon-crawler that doesn’t fit in the mold of other games in the genre. Between the Blackjack-style combat and strange gear system alone, you’re left to your own devices to figure out how best to use everything to your... | Read more »
Webzen’s latest RPG First Hero is offici...
You might be busy sending your hulking Dark Knight into the midst of battle in Webzen’s other recent release: the long-anticipated MU Origin 2. But for something a little different, the South Korean publisher has launched First Hero. Released today... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Amazon drops prices, now offers clearance 13″...
Amazon has new dropped prices on clearance 13″ 2.3GHz Dual-Core non-Touch Bar MacBook Pros by $200 off Apple’s original MSRP, with prices now available starting at $1099. Shipping is free. Be sure to... Read more
2018 15″ MacBook Pros now on sale for $500 of...
Amazon has dropped prices on select clearance 2018 15″ 6-Core MacBook Pros to $500 off Apple’s original MSRP. Prices now start at $1899 shipped: – 2018 15″ 2.2GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro Silver: $1899.... Read more
Price drop! Clearance 12″ 1.2GHz Silver MacBo...
Amazon has dropped their price on the recently-discontinued 12″ 1.2GHz Silver MacBook to $849.99 shipped. That’s $450 off Apple’s original MSRP for this model, and it’s the cheapest price available... Read more
Apple’s 21″ 3.0GHz 4K iMac drops to only $936...
Abt Electronics has dropped their price on clearance, previous-generation 21″ 3.0GHz 4K iMacs to only $936 shipped. That’s $363 off Apple’s original MSRP, and it’s the cheapest price we’ve seen so... Read more
Amazon’s Prime Day savings on Apple 11″ iPad...
Amazon has new 2018 Apple 11″ iPad Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $250 off Apple’s MSRP as part of their Prime Day sale (but Prime membership is NOT required for these savings). These are... Read more
Prime Day Apple iPhone deal: $100 off all iPh...
Boost Mobile is offering Apple’s new 2018 iPhone Xr, iPhone Xs, and Xs Max for $100 off MSRP. Their discount reduces the cost of an Xs to $899 for the 64GB models and $999 for the 64GB Xs Max. Price... Read more
Clearance 13″ 2.3GHz Dual-Core MacBook Pros a...
Focus Camera has clearance 2017 13″ 2.3GHz/128GB non-Touch Bar Dual-Core MacBook Pros on sale for $169 off Apple’s original MSRP. Shipping is free. Focus charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents... Read more
Amazon Prime Day deal: 9.7″ Apple iPads for $...
Amazon is offering new 9.7″ WiFi iPads with Apple Pencil support for $80-$100 off MSRP as part of their Prime Day sale, starting at only $249. These are the same iPads found in Apple’s retail and... Read more
Amazon Prime Day deal: 10% (up to $20) off Ap...
Amazon is offering discounts on new 2019 Apple AirPods ranging up to $20 (10%) off MSRP as part of their Prime Day sales. Shipping is free: – AirPods with Charging Case: $144.99 $15 off MSRP –... Read more
Amazon Prime Day deal: $50-$80 off Apple Watc...
Amazon has Apple Watch Series 4 and Series 3 models on sale for $50-$80 off Apple’s MSRP as part of their Prime Day deals with prices starting at only $199. Choose Amazon as the seller rather than a... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Graders/Inspectors (Seasonal/Hourly/...
…requirements. #COVAentryleveljobs ## Minimum Qualifications Some knowledge of agricultural and/or the apple industry is helpful as well as the ability to comprehend, Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**710003BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Store Associates **Location Number:** 000171-Winchester Road-Store **Job Description:** Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**709786BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Job Category:** Sales **Location Number:** 000430-Orange Park-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Read more
Geek Squad *Apple* Master Consultation Agen...
**709918BR** **Job Title:** Geek Squad Apple Master Consultation Agent **Job Category:** Services/Installation/Repair **Location Number:** 000106-Palmdale-Store Read more
*Apple* Systems Architect/Engineer, Vice Pre...
…its vision to be the world's most trusted financial group. **Summary:** Apple Systems Architect/Engineer with strong knowledge of products and services related to Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.