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TYPO-L  October 1997

TYPO-L October 1997

Subject:

Re: Q: 1840s and tools.

From:

Peter Flynn <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

TYPO-L Discussion of Type and Typographic Design <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 4 Oct 1997 01:21:57 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (57 lines)

Gunnar writes:
> As I remember from being on this list a few years back, I'm in TeX City
> here, but advising someone starting out to use TeX because it is cheap is
> like suggesting he buy a 1978 Compugraphic typesetting machine because
> it's cheaper than a Mac. Asking someone to learn outmoded and difficult
> technology to save a couple of bucks doesn't make much sense.

This is very strange: LaTeX2e is neither difficult nor outmoded. On
the contrary it's rather easy and quite up to date, especially on a
Mac, which is what I recommended. One of the curiosities of DTP is
that after nearly 20 years TeX can still produce better quality
typesetting than most other systems on the market.

> Christopher could get a job at McDonald's in the time he'd waste
> learning TeX and pay for the software he needs and at least he'd
> have the useful skill of making good french fries.

Learning a durable system is never a waste of time. Learning a
transient one, especially an expensive transient one, is a short-term
measure. Perhaps that is what is required in this case: it was not
what was asked.

> The question of what he would do with some fairly exotic files when
> trying to buy printing on the cheap is an interesting one, too.

PostScript is exotic? I think not. I've never found any problem
getting PS files printed. TeX files certainly aren't exotic: they're
plain text, so they are infinitely more useful than manufacturers'
proprietary binary files. But printers don't usually take TeX source
any more than they take raw source for any other system: they take
intermediate files. I know three printers here who take DVI files.

I'll tell you what. Put a current job onto a disk and I'll do the
same.  Meet me back here in October 2017 and we'll see whose system
has stood the test. If readers then consider my files more exotic than
yours I'll buy you dinner.

The request was for a cheap but very high quality method of
typesetting a literary magazine. I gave a solution which satisfies
both requirements. It's not the only solution by any means. Interleaf,
Quark, Frame, or 3B2 are equally good at typesetting: in addition,
both Frame and 3B2 possess the ability to interwork with SGML if
required, Interleaf less so, and Quark not at all (well, not
easily). But these systems are expensive and learning them is just as
demanding as learning TeX (actually slightly more so, as none of them
is quite as stable).

> There are some good reasons for using markup. A new literary magazine is
> not one of them.

I'm not sure you quite understand the implications of what you have
written.  Cris knows more about markup than I do, so I'll let him
answer this one.  I'd be very surprised if the systems you use don't
use markup of some kind, and if they don't, I'd be interested to know
what systems they are.

///Peter

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