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

Skim 1.4.32 - PDF reader and note-taker...
Skim is a PDF reader and note-taker for OS X. It is designed to help you read and annotate scientific papers in PDF, but is also great for viewing any PDF file. Skim includes many features and has a... Read more
ForkLift 3.1.1 - Powerful file manager:...
ForkLift is a powerful file manager and ferociously fast FTP client clothed in a clean and versatile UI that offers the combination of absolute simplicity and raw power expected from a well-executed... Read more
Direct Mail 5.2.1 - Create and send grea...
Direct Mail is an easy-to-use, fully-featured email marketing app purpose-built for macOS. Create, send, and track great looking email campaigns that get results. Start your newsletter by selecting... Read more
Direct Mail 5.2.1 - Create and send grea...
Direct Mail is an easy-to-use, fully-featured email marketing app purpose-built for macOS. Create, send, and track great looking email campaigns that get results. Start your newsletter by selecting... Read more
Skim 1.4.32 - PDF reader and note-taker...
Skim is a PDF reader and note-taker for OS X. It is designed to help you read and annotate scientific papers in PDF, but is also great for viewing any PDF file. Skim includes many features and has a... Read more
ForkLift 3.1.1 - Powerful file manager:...
ForkLift is a powerful file manager and ferociously fast FTP client clothed in a clean and versatile UI that offers the combination of absolute simplicity and raw power expected from a well-executed... Read more
MarsEdit 4.0.5 - Quick and convenient bl...
MarsEdit is a blog editor for OS X that makes editing your blog like writing email, with spell-checking, drafts, multiple windows, and even AppleScript support. It works with with most blog services... Read more
MarsEdit 4.0.5 - Quick and convenient bl...
MarsEdit is a blog editor for OS X that makes editing your blog like writing email, with spell-checking, drafts, multiple windows, and even AppleScript support. It works with with most blog services... Read more
ffWorks 1.0.1 - Convert multimedia files...
ffWorks (was iFFmpeg), 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... Read more
Civilization VI 1.0.7 - Next iteration o...
Sid Meier’s Civilization VI is the next entry in the popular Civilization franchise. Originally created by legendary game designer Sid Meier, Civilization is a strategy game in which you attempt to... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Why doesn't mobile gaming have its...
The Overwatch League is a pretty big deal. It's an attempt to really push eSports into the mainstream, by turning them into, well, regular sports. But slightly less sweaty. It's a lavish affair with teams from all around the world, and more... | Read more »
Give Webzen’s new billiard game PoolTime...
Best known for producing hugely popular MMO titles, South Korean publisher Webzen is now taking aim at a different genre altogether. PoolTime is a realistic eight ball pool simulator, allowing you to compete in real-time matches against players... | Read more »
Let Them Come Guide - How to survive aga...
Let Them Come is all about making it as far as possible against overwhelming odds. Check out some of these tips to help you last a little longer in your unwinnable fight: [Read more] | Read more »
All the best games on sale for iPhone an...
Happy last day of the week. I hope you've been having a good one. I have. I saw ten doggos today. So because I'm in a good mood, I thought I'd round up all of the best games that are currently on sale on the App Store. [Read more] | Read more »
The very best games that came out for iP...
We're getting to the end of the first real, full, proper week of 2018. And in that time we've seen some pretty awesome games landing on the App Store. Of course, we've seen some absolute duffers as well. The sort of games that you look at and... | Read more »
Rusty Lake Paradise (Games)
Rusty Lake Paradise 1.4 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.4 (iTunes) Description: Jakob, the oldest son of the Eilander family, is returning to Paradise island after his mother passed away. Since her... | Read more »
Antihero Guide - Sneaky tricks to get ah...
Games of Antihero start out small and streamlined, but they quickly turn into long strategic conquests as you fight for control of the Victorian-era streets. If you find yourself struggling in the skullduggery department, here are a few things you... | Read more »
Here's why Niantic pulling Pokemon...
If there's one thing that Pokemon GO did well, it was bringing people together. I still remember seeing groups of people around the marina near where I live in the weeks after the game came out, all of them trying to grab some water Pokemon. There... | Read more »
Let Them Come (Games)
Let Them Come 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Why the iPhone X isn't the best bet...
It's always tempting to have the best thing. As game players we're almost conditioned to chase the biggest processor, the most power, the next generation. Even mobile gaming isn't immune to this push to progress - there are games on the App Store... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Amazon offers Silver 13″ Apple MacBook Pros f...
Amazon has new Silver 2017 13″ #Apple #MacBook Pros on sale today for up to $150 off MSRP, each including free shipping: – 13″ 2.3GHz/128GB Silver MacBook Pro (MPXR2LL/A): $1199.99 $100 off MSRP – 13... Read more
Sale: 12″ 1.3GHz MacBooks on sale for $1499,...
B&H Photo has Space Gray and Rose Gold 12″ 1.3GHz #Apple MacBooks on sale for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 12″ 1.3GHz Space... Read more
Apple offers Certified Refurbished 2017 iMacs...
Apple has a full line of Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $350 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are available: – 27... Read more
13″ MacBook Airs on sale for $120-$100 off MS...
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ 128GB MacBook Airs on sale for $120 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 13″ 1.8GHz/128GB MacBook Air (MQD32LL/A): $... Read more
15″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for up to...
Adorama has Space Gray 15″ MacBook Pros on sale for $200 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NJ and NY only: – 15″ 2.8GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (MPTR2LL/A): $2199, $200 off... Read more
21″ 3.4GHz 4K iMac on sale for $1399, $100 of...
Adorama has the 21″ 3.4GHz 4K #Apple #iMac on sale today for $1399. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NJ and NY only: – 21″ 3.4GHz 4K iMac (MNE02LL/A... Read more
B&H offering 13″ Apple MacBook Pros for u...
B&H Photo has 13″ MacBook Pros on sale for up to $75-$120 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges sales tax for NY & NJ residents only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook Pro (... Read more
B&H continues to offer clearance 2016 15″...
B&H Photo has clearance 2016 15″ #MacBook Pros available for up to $800 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: – 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro... Read more
The cheapest 15″ Apple MacBook Pro available...
B&H Photo has the 15″ 2.2GHz MacBook Pro available for $200 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: – 15″ 2.2GHz MacBook Pro (MJLQ2LL/A): $1799 $200 off MSRP Apple has... Read more
Beats sale continues: $30-$80 off headphones,...
Walmart has Beats by Dr. Dre on sale on their online store for $30-$80 off MSRP (#Beats #Walmart), depending on the item: – Powerbeats3 Wireless Earphones: $134, save $65 – BeatsX Earphones: $109,... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description:SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Site Reliability Engineer, *Apple* Pay - Ap...
# Site Reliability Engineer, Apple Pay Job Number: 113356036 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 12-Jan-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Read more
UI Tools and Automation Engineer, *Apple* M...
# UI Tools and Automation Engineer, Apple Media Products Job Number: 86351939 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 11-Jan-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
UI Tools and Automation Engineer, *Apple* M...
# UI Tools and Automation Engineer, Apple Media Products Job Number: 113136387 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 11-Jan-2018 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.