[linux-elitists] What's wrong with PDF

Ben Finney ben@benfinney.id.au
Mon Nov 10 05:42:35 PST 2003

(Michael, please respect my Mail-Followup-To header.  I'm subscribed to
the list.)

On 10-Nov-2003, Michael Still wrote:
> On Mon, 10 Nov 2003, Ben Finney wrote:
> > [PDF compression is] only as seamless as the tool provides.  Since
> > you are fine with needing special tools to read the document, why
> > not compress using gzip and avoid all the other hassles of PDF?
> Because the world is not solely populated with elitists, and at some
> point solutions need to take into account the average, computer
> semi-literate, user.

Uh.  And this is an argument for formats that need special tools to read
them, how?

If we want "average, computer semi-literate" users to be able to read
it, I'd have thought the format with ubiquity of tools would be the
right one.  No user-oriented operating system needs to install a special
reader program for plain text.

However, since the context was a document detailing an operating system
standard for filesystem layout, I don't think the audience of "computer
semi-literate" is really relevant.

> PDF fills a demand.

A demand for compression?  That's the only advantage you've offered so
far.  It's been explained how plain text is at least equal, and
generally superior, to PDF in this respect.

> That demand wouldn't exist if the majority of the world thought plain
> text was suffient.

Straw man.  Nobody is saying plain text is the only way to go; just that
PDF isn't.

Which leads to: Fallacy of the excluded middle.  PDF and plain-text
aren't the only options for distributing an operating system standards
document; other formats offer better styling than plain text without the
rigidity and user-hostility of PDF.

 \        "If you go to a costume party at your boss's house, wouldn't |
  `\     you think a good costume would be to dress up like the boss's |
_o__)                       wife? Trust me, it's not."  -- Jack Handey |
Ben Finney <ben@benfinney.id.au>
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