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Receiving content from people using proprietary file
format tools - part two
PostScript to PDF
In Part I of
this series, we examined the vexing problem of the common exchange of data
between heterogeneous pools of users. Some users will end up using a
file format version (often due to use of a software vendor's
proprietary tool), which another cannot be read by a recipient
as the sender intended.
A lingua franca of PostScript offers a 'common tongue', for
which included or freely available 'print drivers' exist in every
production class computer operating system of which we are aware. We
saw in that tip,
that it was possible to produce and send PostScript files around with the
same ease of sending the non-portable proprietary format content.
But at the recipient end, occasionally differing printer setups -- A4 paper
vs. US Letter, and so forth -- can cause line breaks and forms to shift
around, and not appear visually exactly as the sender intended.
Additionally, custom local font sets (which the sender may have unknowingly
used) may not be present at the destination. In such cases,
one of the 35 'default'
PostScript base fonts is substituted, sometimes causing significant changes in
the appearance of a document.
To address these and other issues, and for some interesting
performance gains, the freely licensed Adobe "Portible Document Format"
encapsulation of PostScript content, and the requisite font outlines
were developed. As with PostScript drivers,
there are again both commercially supported and freely
available implementations of PostScript 'Distillers' (the term which Adobe
calls its variant which converts PostScript to a well-formed PDF).
A freely available version is available, along with
full source code, at links off the
Artifex Software AFPL
Interestingly, the commitment to zero defects of Artifex Software is so high
that as of late 2002, they are paying a 'bounty' of $100 per well-reported
unique 'bug' duly reported to and verified by them.
The software installs easily, and is trivially easy to use. Producing and
transferring exactly the form of the message the sender intended to send
to the recipient is
easy and direct, using this toolset. PDF 'readers' are likewise either
pre-installed, or freely available for each production
class operating system.
And so the goal of not being trapped in or out of sending or receiving
content to and from users of proprietary file formats is solved. All
that is required is a bit of training and freely available or included
Please respect our copyright, and consider contacting us for
all your Open Source and *nix design, architect / systems analysis, and
rev 021007 RPH
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Last modified: Sun, 06 Oct 2002 15:07:28 -0400