Subject: Re: call for volunteers: update flyer
To: None <netbsd-docs@netbsd.org>
From: James K. Lowden <jklowden@schemamania.org>
List: netbsd-docs
Date: 07/13/2005 23:02:38
Jason White wrote:
> >I suggest we just use a easier tool like print/scribus or passepartout
> >(pkgsrc-wip) or even kword (misc/koffice) to create a brochure using
> >same  content.
>
>   I created an openoffice writer version of the pamphlet last February.
>   It's
> available from
> http://www.jdwhite.org/~jdwhite/netbsd/advocacy/nbflyer.sxw

As the guy who posted the complaint, I have to say I'm skeptical of the
theory that other tools are easier.  (And I myself wouldn't have bothered
if it meant using a word processor.)

We really can't blame TeX; it did what was asked, very well, in fact.  It
does beautiful justification.  It squeezed the text ever so slightly to
fit whole paragraphs in each column.  See how the first line under
"Security for Paranoids" is a little higher than the one under "How can I
help"?  How can the OOo tool hope to compete with TeX for typesetting?

The real problems are not really tractable:

1.  The page is very full and the margins are very tight.  I adjusted the
margins by 3.5 mm (0.14 inches).  Drop it by 0.1 mm more and you have 7
columns of text.  But this problem is part of making a good-looking flyer.

2.  pstops and/or ggv is flakey.  ggv couldn't render the postscript, but
ps2pdf could.  Of course, whether ps2pdf does what your postscript driver
does is another question.  If I'd had better postscript manipulation and
debugging tools, life would have been easier.

2a. We could avoid the column-manipulation in pstops and use the
multicolumn LaTeX package instead, at two costs:

a) the columns would be in printing order (2-3-4-5-6-1), not reading
order. Probably more-or-less OK, insofar as the TeX source has numerous
\newpage breaks.
b) the logo wouldn't be handled by TeX (a limitation of the multicolumn
LaTeX package).  TeX would leave some blank space, and pstops would
combine the dvips output with the logo.

3.  The flyer was originally set up for A4 paper.  If we want one source
file to print with such tight tolerances on two sizes of paper, we need to
abstract out and parameterize the features that need to be different.
What I did was "Americanize" it, which I'm sure won't win me any friends
in Europe.

One problem is tractable but no fun.  The dimensions are in cm, while the
paper and most Americans are inch-oriented.  It would probably be best to
use printer points (1/72 inch) for the dimensions.

Finally, forewarned is forearmed.  There should be a little README
somewhere -- maybe I'll contribute one -- telling the next fellow what to
look out for.  If someone had told me it's OK to adjust \textwidth but
don't dare touch \oddsidemargin, and explained the 6-page consolidation
theory, I would have experimented less and gone down fewer dead ends.

Probably no one cares very much, not enough to want to make all these
fixes.  So, we'll continue to have something that's hard to work with....

--jkl