Wed Mar 12 17:01:38 CET 2003
Joe Armstrong wrote:
>>I think the appeal is in being able to generate elaborate,
>>quality documents directly from changeable/dynamic data, with charts,
>>graphs, tables, links etc...
> Actually I started writing it because am *appalled* at the quality
> of modern typesetting.
> If you look at a newspaper the overall design is based on a smallish
> number of templates - where each template is a set of rectangular
> boxes (I guess most papers use less than 20 templates) - indeed there
> should only be a small number of templates if the work as a whole is
> to have a consistent look and feel.
That echos what my typography and graphic design teachers told us back
in 1989(?). You obviously have a pronounced sense of aesthetics (it
shows in your Erlang tutorials too :-). I did a two year graphic design
course, but didn't find work and ended up studying computer science &
Yes, I agree that the current tools aren't really designed with good
typographic practice in mind. But I think that good typography also
requires some guidance, teaching and experience. The reason most
scientific documents look appallingly similar isn't just because of
LaTeX. People generally don't have aesthetic flair (maybe the reason I
couldn't get a job in graphic design?:-))
Following your example of inappropriate type faces, would a template
offer recommended type faces? Would other graphical elements be
incorporated, such as styles for graphics and tables?
> Erlguten design will reflect this - the idea (not yet implemented)
> is to have a small number of templates + a large database of articles.
> Making a document consists then of choosing a template and dropping
> an article into it.
Supplying a limited selection of excellent templates would help
enormously. I don't underestimate how hard it is to do this, but at
least it would give some guidance. It may not be possible to automate
the teaching and experience, though.
> I imagine generating these (content -> template) map on the fly and
> producing personalized content.
> The other point is *quality* I want to achieved the highest possibly
> quality - MS word etc. get character kerning *wrong* and miss out
> ligatures - they make typographically crazy decisions - setting up
> fixed columns (a la newspaper) is terribly difficult.
> The next level of programs quark-express - InDesign2 etc. can
> produce better quality output but are literally *painful* to use (it
> probably takes ten thousand mouse clicks to no anything - by which
> time your arm wants to drop off).
I agree again, I've suffered both, and I'm equally sick of both.
> There seems to be no good free software to produce high quality PDF
> from XML (I looked) the industry "standard" way of doing this is to
> use XSLT to transform XML to the FOSSI XML DTD and then transform this
> to a subset of TeX and then transform this to PDF. This method is
> extremely complicated and incredibly difficult to produce any good
> results (I've tried).
> The direct transformation of XML -> PDF *in one step* is much better
> and easier to program - all the Adobe documentation is freely available
> and is of surprisingly high quality (well done Adobe) - IMHO PDF is
> extremely well designed as is Postscript.
Hmm. Would display postscript be in the pipeline? The GNUstep project
(gnustep.org) is working on something there. I'm interested in using
GNUstep for developing GUIs. I was very interested when Next Inc.
introduced their black cube. I hope to play with it at last after almost
>>I intend to use it to generate printable reports directly from and
>>within a product testing framework and is accessible from a web page.
> Now make me happy by getting the typography right - choose
> *beautiful* typefaces - and get the layout right - try reading a few
> books on typography first :-) ((seriously)) - things got better and
> better from 1445 until about 1985 and then got worse ...
Yup, the typography teacher was dismayed at the downward trend in
quality at the time. It probably coincides with the emergence of DTP,
and everyone believing they could match the professionals with the new
technology. They always referred back to very early typographical
examples, Gutenberg's bible for one. The problem is that good quality
can easily be appreciated, but not easily created. I'll read my course
notes and try my best, I've got a couple of day off soon...
> I read that a typesetter setting newsprint on a Linotype machine
> could enter properly formatted text 4 times faster than with a modern
> desk top publishing system. This was *not* WYSIWYG but all done single
> key type setting commands ... If anybody knows how to get a Linotype
> manual can they mail me :-)
> So let's try to make things better ...
Maybe going *slower* would improve things? Taking time to polish would
do wonders to the result. But we're all racing to produce stuff too
quickly I think.
>>Thanks Joe, btw, for doing this. I've now got all the tools (pdf,web) I
>>need in Erlang, and in the form of tutorials no less. I owe you quite a
>>few beers :-)
> Great - which bar??
Hopefully one east of London?
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