Re: layout/screen units mess

From: Dom Lachowicz (
Date: Thu Aug 08 2002 - 15:55:09 EDT

  • Next message: Hubert Figuiere: "Commit (STABLE) Re: Commit: Docbook plugin work"

    >> This isn't a *huge* problem. Word Processor documents are allowed to
    >> look (and layout) slightly differently between versions and between
    >> platforms. Of course, we should try to keep these differences at a
    >> minimum, but there are some other reasons why things can and will look
    >> differently no matter what we do:
    > Here I disagree. IMO, Word Processors are *not* allowed to layout
    > differently, and if the user has all the fonts required, then the
    > document should render exactly identically, whatever version you use.

    I would still disagree with you here. There are too many subtle
    differences that are outside of our control here, such as:

    * floating point operations being slightly different based on the
    processor used, if we use floats
    * font rendering programs potentially performing slightly differently
    * actual installed fonts differ based on platform
    * font licensing bits (such as apple's patents that "plague" freetype)

    Now, if we all used the same fonts coming from the same font rendering
    program with the same license in effect/not in effect, then the output
    should in theory be identical. In the real world and with Abi's design
    philosophy, we can't guarantee this.

    Also, I tend to lessen this requirement since a *lot* (read the
    overwhelming majority) of users don't care about a single pixel
    difference here and there in their word processing documents. It simply
    isn't a huge concern.

    >> * Different fonts on different platforms (we don't and won't embed
    >> fonts like PDFs)
    > why "won't"? I was hopping to add something in this sense.
    > Of course, it's more difficult to us than to pdf, because we should
    > embed enough glyphs to render the text *and* to leave the user edit it.
    > But I see it as a desired feature (btw, word does it)

    I don't see this as a desired feature and only see it as causing an
    unending sea of headaches for us as the project progresses. Yes, PDF
    does do font subsetting to save size, and we wouldn't be able to do

    I'm seeing a problem when we have a 10M glyph font embedded inside of a
    1 page document. Do we want a 4MB, 1 page document? Is this the best
    route to go? Can we be smart and say "you don't have fonts X, Y, Z. Go
    get them from"? What about cases where fonts are
    copyrighted materials? Might Abi (read me, as a US citizen and the
    project's maintainer) get sued because Abi now allows you to
    redistribute (read circumvent) copyrighted material (this is a real
    consideration under copyright law that we will have to be careful of,
    not to mention the fscking DMCA). Will this just be the responsibility
    of the user? I've heard the same argument applied to Napster, and they
    lost. You say that Word does it, which is true. Microsoft also owns a
    lot of the fonts, has extremely good relations (read contracts and
    licenses) with other font vendors, and has $40B in liquid assets and an
    army of lawyers to throw at problems like this. The Abi fund has $1100
    and my "Lawyering for Dummies" book.

    If you do anything, prepare to argue your case for your proposed
    solution, because there will be arguments for and against it, and I
    think that most arguments for all sides will have a 1+ kernels of truth
    to them.

    >> I personally don't care if you use floats or integers, but please be
    >> consistent. I think that's more important than anything else.
    > I was a bit more pro-float, but seeing Jody post (ie. this issue may be
    > more important for tables than for simple text) puts me in a middle
    > zone.
    > Also the fact that TeX picked integer calculations, getting a
    > formidable
    > layout stability over the years has a certain weight in my mind.

    Integers could be good. Then again, we're talking about word processing
    documents here with giant columns, lots of lines, and lots of space in
    between them. We're also dealing with users who tend to be much less
    picky if a word gets wrapped differently on Win32 than on Unix, if they
    move documents between platforms at all. Jody's spreadsheet problems
    are at least due to the fact that he's dealing with much less
    real-estate. His cells are 1 inch by 1/2 inch at most. The margin for
    error is much higher there, and you absolutely must get the cell's
    contents right every time, no matter what.

    No matter what choice you make, I don't think your decision (or our
    results) will be unprofessional.


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