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/.

 
AAPL
$95.60
Apple Inc.
-2.55
MSFT
$43.16
Microsoft Corpora
-0.42
GOOG
$571.60
Google Inc.
-15.82

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

OneNote 15.2 - Free digital notebook fro...
OneNote is your very own digital notebook. With OneNote, you can capture that flash of genius, that moment of inspiration, or that list of errands that’s too important to forget. Whether you’re at... Read more
iStat Menus 4.22 - Monitor your system r...
iStat Menus lets you monitor your system right from the menubar. Included are 8 menu extras that let you monitor every aspect of your system. Some features: CPU -- Monitor cpu usage. 7 display... Read more
Ember 1.8 - Versatile digital scrapbook....
Ember (formerly LittleSnapper) is your digital scrapbook of things that inspire you: websites, photos, apps or other things. Just drag in images that you want to keep, organize them into relevant... Read more
OmniPlan 2.3.6 - Robust project manageme...
With OmniPlan, you can create logical, manageable project plans with Gantt charts, schedules, summaries, milestones, and critical paths. Break down the tasks needed to make your project a success,... Read more
Command-C 1.1.1 - Clipboard sharing tool...
Command-C is a revolutionary app which makes easy to share your clipboard between iOS and OS X using your local WiFi network, even if the app is not currently opened. Copy anything (text, pictures,... Read more
Knock 1.1.7 - Unlock your Mac by knockin...
Knock is a faster, safer way to sign in. You keep your iPhone with you all the time. Now you can use it as a password. You never have to open the app -- just knock on your phone twice, even when it's... Read more
Mellel 3.3.6 - Powerful word processor w...
Mellel is the leading word processor for OS X and has been widely considered the industry standard since its inception. Mellel focuses on writers and scholars for technical writing and multilingual... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.0.4 - Free Open Source o...
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
Freeway Pro 7.0 - Drag-and-drop Web desi...
Freeway Pro lets you build websites with speed and precision... without writing a line of code! With it's user-oriented drag-and-drop interface, Freeway Pro helps you piece together the website of... Read more
Drive Genius 3.2.4 - Powerful system uti...
Drive Genius is an OS X utility designed to provide unsurpassed storage management. Featuring an easy-to-use interface, Drive Genius is packed with powerful tools such as a drive optimizer, a... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Dawn of the Immortals Review
Dawn of the Immortals Review By Jennifer Allen on July 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: RESPECTABLE EXPLORATIONUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Dawn of the Immortals might not re-invent the wheel, but it does tweak it a little... | Read more »
80 Days Review
80 Days Review By Jennifer Allen on July 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: EPIC ADVENTUREUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A fantastic and fascinating re-envisioning of the classic novel by Jules Verne, 80 Days is a delightful... | Read more »
Battleheart Legacy Guide
The world of Battleheart Legacy is fun and deep; full of wizards, warriors, and witches. Here are some tips and tactics to help you get the most enjoyment out of this great game. | Read more »
Puzzle Roo Review
Puzzle Roo Review By Jennifer Allen on July 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: PUZZLE-BASED TWISTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A different take on the usual block dropping puzzle game, Puzzle Roo is quite pleasant.   | Read more »
Super Crossfire Re-Release Super Crossfi...
Super Crossfire Re-Release Super Crossfighter Coming Soon, Other Radiangames Titles Go 50% Off Posted by Ellis Spice on July 31st, 2014 [ | Read more »
Hexiled Review
Hexiled Review By Rob Thomas on July 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: HEX SELLSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad In space, no one can hear you… spell? Hexiled is a neat concept for a word scramble puzzle, but it doesn’t go too... | Read more »
Summoners War: Sky Arena Passes 10 Milli...
Summoners War: Sky Arena Passes 10 Million Installs! Posted by Jessica Fisher on July 31st, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Deep Loot Review
Deep Loot Review By Jennifer Allen on July 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: DIVE DEEPUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Dive deep in this fun explore-em-up that’s a little grind heavy but ultimately quite entertaining.   | Read more »
Despicable Me: Minion Rush is One Year O...
Despicable Me: Minion Rush is One Year Old, Gets its Biggest Update Yet Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 31st, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Fish & Shark Review
Fish & Shark Review By Jordan Minor on July 31st, 2014 Our Rating: :: FLAPPY FISHUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Fish & Shark’s beauty is only scale deep.   | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Save up to $130 on an iPad mini with Apple re...
The Apple Store has Certified Refurbished 2nd generation iPad minis with Retina Displays available for up to $130 off the cost of new models, starting at $339. Apple’s one-year warranty is included... Read more
iPad Cannibalization Threat “Overblown”
Seeking Alpha’s Kevin Greenhalgh observes that while many commentators think Apple’s forthcoming 5.5-inch panel iPhone 6 will cannibalize iPad sales, in his estimation, these concerns are being... Read more
Primate Labs Releases July 2014 MacBook Pro P...
Primate Labs’ John Poole has posted Geekbench 3 results for most of the new MacBook Pro models that Apple released on Tuesday. Poole observes that overall performance improvements for the new MacBook... Read more
Apple Re-Releases Bugfixed MacBook Air EFI Fi...
Apple has posted a bugfixed version EFI Firmware Update 2.9 a for MacBook Air (Mid 2011) models. The update addresses an issue where systems may take longer to wake from sleep than expected, and... Read more
Save $50 on the 2.5GHz Mac mini, plus free sh...
B&H Photo has the 2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549.99 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software. NY sales tax only. Read more
Save up to $140 on an iPad Air with Apple ref...
Apple is offering Certified Refurbished iPad Airs for up to $140 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Stock tends to come and go with some of these... Read more
$250 price drop on leftover 15-inch Retina Ma...
B&H Photo has dropped prices on 2013 15″ Retina MacBook Pros by $250 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.3GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $2249, $250 off... Read more
More iPad Upgrade Musings – The ‘Book Mystiqu...
Much discussed recently, what with Apple reporting iPad sales shrinkage over two consecutive quarters, is that it had apparently been widely assumed that tablet users would follow a two-year hardware... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999,...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $999.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Their price is $100 off MSRP. Price is... Read more
Save up to $300 on an iMac with Apple refurbi...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $300 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. These are the best prices on... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Sr. Product Leader, *Apple* Store Apps - Ap...
**Job Summary** Imagine what you could do here. At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring Read more
Sr Software Lead Engineer, *Apple* Online S...
Sr Software Lead Engineer, Apple Online Store Publishing Systems Keywords: Company: Apple Job Code: E3PCAK8MgYYkw Location (City or ZIP): Santa Clara Status: Full Read more
Sr Software Lead Engineer, *Apple* Online S...
Sr Software Lead Engineer, Apple Online Store Publishing Systems Keywords: Company: Apple Job Code: E3PCAK8MgYYkw Location (City or ZIP): Santa Clara Status: Full Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.