Jeph Jacques's comics discussion forums

  • 30 Sep 2020, 10:36
  • Welcome, Guest
Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  
Pages: [1]   Go Down

Author Topic: PDFs arent like democracy at all  (Read 768 times)

snubnose

  • Scrabble hacker
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1,366
  • Cape diem
    • Google
PDFs arent like democracy at all
« on: 08 Jul 2020, 23:55 »

For example LibreOffice files would be like democracy, since the software producing them is free.

PDF however is a commercial product. Just like Flash was.

You cannot freely access their definition. As a programmer, I tried.

Also, its a terribly bloated format and really hard to work with.
Logged
Carpe Diem

Tova

  • Preventing third impact
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6,288
  • Defender of the Terrible Denizens of QC
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #1 on: 09 Jul 2020, 02:54 »

Hi!  :-D

I don't think that Jeph intended that anyone take the analogy you're referring to any further than the comment that PDFs are "not perfect but all the alternatives are worse" (a comment normally used to describe democracy). PDFs are not otherwise anything like democracy, even remotely. Obviously.
Logged
'A true thing, poorly expressed, is a lie.'

Tova

  • Preventing third impact
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6,288
  • Defender of the Terrible Denizens of QC
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #2 on: 09 Jul 2020, 03:02 »

I should also clarify that by "freely" in your post, I assume that you mean "free as in beer." ISO 32000-2:2017 is published and there's nothing stopping you from buying yourself a copy and implementing it.
Logged
'A true thing, poorly expressed, is a lie.'

pwhodges

  • Admin emeritus
  • Awakened
  • *
  • Online Online
  • Posts: 16,623
  • I'll only say this once...
    • My home page
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #3 on: 09 Jul 2020, 03:44 »

You cannot freely access their definition.

Well, there's the ISO standard.  OK, not financially free (though a suitable library might have it), but not restricted.
Logged
"Being human, having your health; that's what's important."  (from: Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi )
"As long as we're all living, and as long as we're all having fun, that should do it, right?"  (from: The Eccentric Family )

cybersmurf

  • Bling blang blong blung
  • *****
  • Online Online
  • Posts: 1,003
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #4 on: 09 Jul 2020, 05:10 »

PDF is a so-called industry standard, something that had become so ubiquitous it got beyond quasi-standard. Something similar happened to democracy.
Although the Romans realised democracy (or even something limited like a senate) can be flawed in certain areas, hence they created the (limited time) function of Dictator, to override bickering and indecisiveness of several people trying to find a consensus.
Logged
I solemnly swear I'm up to no good.

Pilchard123

  • Vulcan 3-D Chess Master
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 3,939
  • I always name them Bitey.
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #5 on: 09 Jul 2020, 09:36 »

Quote
PDFs arent like democracy at all

Quote
PDF [...] is a commercial product.

I dunno, you're not doing your case much good here...

:V
Logged
Piglet wondered how it was that every conversation with Eeyore seemed to go wrong.

Boxer

  • Not quite a lurker
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 17
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #6 on: 10 Jul 2020, 03:54 »

Long time reader, first time poster... my job is records keeping, this bugged me.

PDFs are essential for democracy.

PDF/A is ISO 19005 standard used by government archives and libraries around the world as an embedded standard, but also as a loss-less preservation standard. Its also an open-source format now.

If we lost the ability to easily read PDFs (as the comic implies, and the following comic about how to read it). We would cripple most electronic records keeping functionality worldwide... creating unnecessary difficulty accessing information in a timely manner, the biggest impact would cripple the Freedom of Information policies and that would damage democracy.

Library of Congress article "PDF is Here to Stay"
https://blogs.loc.gov/thesignal/2020/03/pdf-is-here-to-stay/

... otherwise Adobe PDF Readers and Writers have always been pieces of garbage.
Logged

JoeCovenant

  • Duck attack survivor
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1,841
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #7 on: 10 Jul 2020, 04:34 »


...If we lost the ability to easily read PDFs (as the comic implies, and the following comic about how to read it). We would cripple most electronic records keeping functionality worldwide...

Doesn't that make pdf a Dictatorship?  :)
Logged
Covenant
A Man With Far Too Much Time On His Hands

Boxer

  • Not quite a lurker
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 17
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #8 on: 10 Jul 2020, 22:31 »

Doesn't that make pdf a Dictatorship?  :)
No (its open source).

Since its an international record keeping standard... I would be more accurate to say that anyone in a position of power who refused to maintain Public Records (by any and all standards) could be a dictator by purposely hiding, destroying or obfuscating information from their government and their people.

https://time.com/5308542/trump-presidential-records-nixon/

Logged

cybersmurf

  • Bling blang blong blung
  • *****
  • Online Online
  • Posts: 1,003
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #9 on: 12 Jul 2020, 03:56 »


...If we lost the ability to easily read PDFs (as the comic implies, and the following comic about how to read it). We would cripple most electronic records keeping functionality worldwide...

Doesn't that make pdf a Dictatorship?  :)

You know, you could always send a Word document...
Logged
I solemnly swear I'm up to no good.

Cornelius

  • Scrabble hacker
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1,480
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #10 on: 12 Jul 2020, 12:34 »

Unironically, that is part of why I'm looking for another position.
Logged
Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tunes without the words and never stops at all.

Farideh

  • Bizarre cantaloupe phobia
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 238
  • La li lu le lo
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #11 on: 12 Jul 2020, 16:12 »

You know, you could always send a Word document...


Logged
I am not hiding. I am maintaining a respectful distance.

Tova

  • Preventing third impact
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6,288
  • Defender of the Terrible Denizens of QC
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #12 on: 12 Jul 2020, 18:13 »

Unironically, that is part of why I'm looking for another position.

What is, sorry?
Logged
'A true thing, poorly expressed, is a lie.'

Farideh

  • Bizarre cantaloupe phobia
  • **
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 238
  • La li lu le lo
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #13 on: 12 Jul 2020, 18:26 »

The fact that PDFs will never die?
Logged
I am not hiding. I am maintaining a respectful distance.

Cornelius

  • Scrabble hacker
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1,480
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #14 on: 12 Jul 2020, 23:52 »

The fact that our functional support team keeps just sending word documents out to users, which then get modified before they get to the end users, propagating the same user error over and over again, resulting in a mass of support tickets that over time just never goes down. While we have a perfectly good documentation tool and platform, with e-learning and all, which they won't use, because "it takes too much time". Ok, so, using a solution that will support your automated testing system, and e-learning, and in application help, takes more time, it seems, than re-typing (as they claim, and I doubt) the same thing over and over again each week.

On second thought, maybe this should go in the venting thread.
Logged
Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tunes without the words and never stops at all.

snubnose

  • Scrabble hacker
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 1,366
  • Cape diem
    • Google
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #15 on: 14 Jul 2020, 06:39 »

I dont know if PDF will die or not, but its not a great format either way. *shrug*

Mostly because program A does this and program B does that with that format, and you dont even know why.

Having a standard doesnt help and no, I dont consider standards I have to pay money for as free.

And no, PDF is NOT open source. Its not even a program in the first place; its a file format.

Also you dont have to pay for open source, either. You CAN, but you dont have to.


XML probably will never die. Because its actually a free standard. Also, it makes sense.

Unix will probably never die. Heck, all operating systems are basically Unix now.
Logged
Carpe Diem

cybersmurf

  • Bling blang blong blung
  • *****
  • Online Online
  • Posts: 1,003
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #16 on: 14 Jul 2020, 11:48 »

PDF is good at what it does: consistent display across platforms and programs, read only, password protectable, friggin' fillable and saveable  forms in an otherwise read only file and several other nifty features. Does it do it the best way? Nope. Partially not even close. But it's around, and it works.
Logged
I solemnly swear I'm up to no good.

Tova

  • Preventing third impact
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6,288
  • Defender of the Terrible Denizens of QC
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #17 on: 14 Jul 2020, 16:22 »

I've been following this thread and I still have almost no idea why people actually dislike PDFs.

Apart from maybe that the standard wasn't written by Linus Torvalds.

Yeah, you have to pay $$ for any ISO standard. And it is expensive, I agree. However, the upside is that the standard contains stuff the industry actually needs rather than being left to the developers who are more motivated by what they personally think is important (unpaid developers are perfectly at liberty to do this, of course, which is why the very best open source software is written by programmers who eat their own dog food).

If you are a serious PDF developer, rather then pay for individual copies of the standard, you'd be better off joining the PDF association where you can access drafts and influence the direction of the standard.

Everyone's, including Jeph, is saying "eh, it's not perfect, but it's the best we've got," and I don't disagree - of course it's not perfect. Duh. But what specifically do you dislike about it? I was really hoping that someone would go into that.

For the cheap seats at the back: PDF 2.0 is an open standard. Not free as in beer. Free as in freedom. Anyone can buy a copy of the standard and implement readers and/or writers, and pay zero royalties.

PDF may not be a program, but I'm not sure I've seen a single person so far with direct experience with the standard. One person had direct experience with postscript and seemed unaware that PDF is a superset of the postscript programming language. Maybe snubnose has, but since you said you couldn't freely access the standard, I'm not 100% clear on it.

Maybe you're all conflating your complaints about the standard with complaints about the software you have to use that writes or reads PDFs.

Now, come on, stop being halfhearted about it and take a proper shot.

By the way, if you're really curious, it is possible to download your very own copy of the PDF 1.7 standard. Free as in beer.

Also BTW, if you're looking for software, Foxit is decent. The reader is free. The writer costs money, but at least it is one off, as opposed to Adobe's somewhat exorbitant subscription cost.

Have at it.

P.S. I neglected to address the one concrete complaint at the top of the thread. Yes, it is a big standard, and working with it is difficult. Implementing it accurately can be obscenely difficult.

P.P.S. XML sucks. Fight me.
« Last Edit: 14 Jul 2020, 16:38 by Tova »
Logged
'A true thing, poorly expressed, is a lie.'

flfederation

  • Not quite a lurker
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 19
  • He/they/whatever
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #18 on: 27 Sep 2020, 21:34 »

I've been following this thread and I still have almost no idea why people actually dislike PDFs.
They aren't trivial to edit, very few readers can wrap the text (partly because PDF was designed to simulate or facilitate printout, "wrap" is taken care of prior to "setting" the document, not at read time) and they are very demanding of resources / inefficient.

And there isn't much you can do about it except hate PDFs. I wouldn't say I hate them, though I can say I sympathise with those who dislike them. As for XML, it's about as bloated as a plaintext format can get, though only in practice. In theory it's practically unobtrusive. So I can't really say I'm a fan of either. I have a friend who hates markdown-- all these formats have their own features that make them "terrible" in one way or another. PLAINTEXT 4EVER! Although to be fair, that's another kettle of fish.
« Last Edit: 27 Sep 2020, 21:43 by flfederation »
Logged

Tova

  • Preventing third impact
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6,288
  • Defender of the Terrible Denizens of QC
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #19 on: 28 Sep 2020, 04:15 »

None of the formats you mentioned is terrible (in spite of my previous crack about XML sucking) - merely not fit for every conceivable circumstance. Use the right tool for the job, and you will have a happier life.
Logged
'A true thing, poorly expressed, is a lie.'

flfederation

  • Not quite a lurker
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 19
  • He/they/whatever
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #20 on: 28 Sep 2020, 05:13 »

Use the right tool for the job
I thought you wanted to know why people didn't like PDFs. People don't just complain because they make the wrong choices-- people do that, but they also complain when Pointy-haired manager types (not to mention otherwise wonderful acquaintances) are the ones choosing the format.
For a relevant, albeit fictional example-- in the QC that most likely started this thread, the format was chosen by Hannelore's father or someone connected to him-- not Beeps or Roko. So the hassle of dealing with PDFs was hardly up to their personal choices. It's a guess that more often than not, when people grumble about a file format-- the choice was already made for them.
Logged

Tova

  • Preventing third impact
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6,288
  • Defender of the Terrible Denizens of QC
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #21 on: 28 Sep 2020, 06:00 »

Good point about having to use a format someone else chose. I sympathise with your pain there!
Logged
'A true thing, poorly expressed, is a lie.'

cybersmurf

  • Bling blang blong blung
  • *****
  • Online Online
  • Posts: 1,003
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #22 on: Yesterday at 13:49 »

Since PDFs are meant to keep its layout locked towards a physical page, the format may seem clunky, noisy and weird to parse for QC AIs, so I can see why the format didn't catch on like it did in "our reality".
But at the same time it may seem weird how the "grandaddy of AI" would use PDF. I have an idea why though: he wanted to send a physical letter, human to human, and PDF was the closest digital representation to the real thing he could think of, although in that case outdated.
Logged
I solemnly swear I'm up to no good.

flfederation

  • Not quite a lurker
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 19
  • He/they/whatever
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #23 on: Yesterday at 15:00 »

at the same time it may seem weird how the "grandaddy of AI" would use PDF. I have an idea why though: he wanted to send a physical letter, human to human, and PDF was the closest digital representation to the real thing he could think of
Ignoring for the moment that it was likely done for humourous or storyline purposes, the truth is that in IT people find themselves in all sorts of weird, one-off situations where for some reason the tool they have available is strange or outdated. In every instance of this someone asks "why would you use _____" but there is often a story there.

For me, the weird part is the implication that there isn't a modern equivalent of PDF for page layout; weirder still is that sentient AI can't parse an ancient format that was native to printers for so many years at a time, or that it was an effort to find a plugin that could.
Logged

hedgie

  • Older than Moses
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 4,265
  • Can't be buggered at all
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #24 on: Yesterday at 16:05 »

PDF is great for some things, like if one wants a specific page layout for the final whatever.  But, as others have said, it fails miserably outside that context.  It's like people setting widths in webpages in points or pixels, rather than percentages to make them more resolution/device-dependent.
Logged
"Madness is rare in individuals - but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule." -- Nietzsche

"Pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in space, 'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth!"  -- The Pythons

Tova

  • Preventing third impact
  • *****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 6,288
  • Defender of the Terrible Denizens of QC
Re: PDFs arent like democracy at all
« Reply #25 on: Today at 03:43 »

PDF is great for some things, like if one wants a specific page layout for the final whatever.  But, as others have said, it fails miserably outside that context.

Saying that PDF fails outside the context of describing a page layout is like saying that a chef's knife fails outside the context of cutting food.
Logged
'A true thing, poorly expressed, is a lie.'
Pages: [1]   Go Up