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

Audio Hijack 3.2.0 - Record and enhance...
Audio Hijack (was Audio Hijack Pro) drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio... Read more
FontExplorer X Pro 5.0.1 - Font manageme...
FontExplorer X Pro is optimized for professional use; it's the solution that gives you the power you need to manage all your fonts. Now you can more easily manage, activate and organize your... Read more
Calcbot 1.0.2 - Intelligent calculator a...
Calcbot is an intelligent calculator and unit converter for the rest of us. Featuring an easy-to-read history tape, expression view, intuitive conversion, and much more! Features History Tape -... Read more
MTR 5.0.0.1 - The Mac's oldest and...
MTR (was MacTheRipper)--the Mac's oldest and smartest DVD-backup app--is now updated to version 5.001 MTR -- the complete toolbox, not a one-trick, point-and-click extractor. MTR is intended for... Read more
LibreOffice 4.4.5.2 - Free, open-source...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
Adobe Lightroom 6.1.1 - Import, develop,...
Adobe Lightroom is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $9.99/month bundled with Photoshop CC as part of the photography package. Lightroom 6 is also available for purchase as a... Read more
File Juicer 4.41 - Extract images, video...
File Juicer is a drag-and-drop can opener and data archaeologist. Its specialty is to find and extract images, video, audio, or text from files which are hard to open in other ways. It finds and... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 9.52 - File, phot...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more
OmniFocus 2.2.3 - GTD task manager with...
OmniFocus helps you manage your tasks the way that you want, freeing you to focus your attention on the things that matter to you most. Capturing tasks and ideas is always a keyboard shortcut away in... Read more
TinkerTool 5.4 - Expanded preference set...
TinkerTool is an application that gives you access to additional preference settings Apple has built into Mac OS X. This allows to activate hidden features in the operating system and in some of the... Read more

Rescue humanity from a Demon horde in An...
Angel Stone is Fincon's follow up to the massively successful Hello Hero and is out now on iOS and Android. You play as a member of The Resistance, a group of mighty human warriors who have risen up in defiance of the Demon horde threatening to... | Read more »
Gallery Doctor (Photography)
Gallery Doctor 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Photography Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Free up valuable iCloud and iPhone storage with Gallery Doctor, the only iPhone cleaner that automatically identifies the... | Read more »
You Against Me (Games)
You Against Me 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A simple game… You. Me. Claim, steal, lock, score, win! | Read more »
Yep, it's True - Angry Birds 2 is O...
The not exactly rumors were true and the birds are back. Angry Birds 2 has come to the App Store and the world will... well I suppose it'll still be the same, but now we have more bird-flinging options! [Read more] | Read more »
You Could Design Your Own Card for Chain...
If you've ever wanted to create your own item, weapon, trap, or even monster for Chainsaw Warrior: Lords of the Night, this is your chance. Auroch Digital is currently holding a contest so that fans can fight to the death (not really) to see which... | Read more »
Bitcoin Billionaire is Going Back in Tim...
If you thought you managed to buy everything there is to buy in Bitcoin Billionaire and make all the money, well you though wrong. Those of you who made it far enough might remember investing in time travel - and it looks like that investment is... | Read more »
Domino Drop (Games)
Domino Drop 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Domino Drop is a delightful new puzzle game with dominos and gravity!Learn how to play it in a minute, master it day by day.Your... | Read more »
OPERATION DRACULA (Games)
OPERATION DRACULA 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $5.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: 25% off launch sale!!! 'Could prove to be one of the most accurate representations of the Japanese bullet hell shmup... | Read more »
Race The Sun (Games)
Race The Sun 1.01 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.01 (iTunes) Description: You are a solar craft. The sun is your death timer. Hurtle towards the sunset at breakneck speed in a futile race against time.... | Read more »
Tap Delay (Music)
Tap Delay 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Back in the “old days”, producers and engineers created delay and echo effects using tape machines. Tap Delay combines the warm... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Worldwide Tablet Market Decline Continues, Ap...
The worldwide tablet market declined -7.0% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2015 (2Q15) with shipments totaling 44.7 million units according to preliminary data from the International Data... Read more
TP-LINK TL-PA8030P KIT Powerline Featuring Ho...
Consumer and business networking products provider TP-LINK is now shipping its TL-PA8030P KIT AV1200 3-Port Gigabit Passthrough Powerline Starter Kit that expands your home’s network over its... Read more
Apple refurbished iPad Air 2s available for u...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iPad Air 2s available for up to $140 off the price of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 128GB... Read more
Updated Apple iPad Price Trackers
We’ve updated our iPad Air Price Tracker and our iPad mini Price Tracker with the latest information on prices and availability from Apple and other resellers. Read more
Apple refurbished 2014 13-inch 128GB MacBook...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $759. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB... Read more
Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished Mac Pros available for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The... Read more
12-inch MacBooks in stock for $20 off, save o...
Adorama has 12″ Retina MacBooks in stock for $20 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. For a limited time, Adorama will include a free Apple USB-C to USB Adapter, free 4-... Read more
College Student Deals: Additional $100 off Ma...
Take an additional $100 off all MacBooks and iMacs at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through August 8, 2015. Anyone with a valid .EDU email address can take... Read more
2015 13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sal...
B&H Photo has the new 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro on sale today for $1199 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales. Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales. Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Engineering Manager, Search Relevance, *Appl...
**Job Summary** Apple 's new Spotlight Suggestions service provides fast, relevant search results from the Inte et in Spotlight and Safari on iOS and OS X. We are looking Read more
Lead Infrastructure Engineer - *Apple* /Mac P...
…of a team * Requires proven problem solving skills Preferred Additional: * Apple Certified System Administrator (ACSA) * Apple Certified Technical Coordinator (ACTC) Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales. Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales. Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.