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Laying out the future of final-form digital documents

By David F. Brailsford


It is just over 20 years since Adobe's PostScript opened a new era in digital documents. PostScript allows most details of rendering to be hidden within the imaging device itself, while providing a rich set of primitives enabling document engineers to think of final-form rendering as being just a sophisticated exercise in computer graphics. The refinement of the PostScript model into PDF has been amazingly successful in creating a near-universal interchange format for complex and graphically rich digital documents but the PDF format itself is neither easy to create nor to amend. In the meantime a whole new world of digital documents has sprung up centred around XML-based technologies. The most widespread example is XHTML (with optional CSS styling) but more recently we have seen Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) emerge as an XML-based, low-level, rendering language with PostScript-compatible rendering semantics. This paper surveys graphically-rich final-form rendering technologies and asks how flexible they can be in allowing adjustments to be made to final appearance without the need for regenerating a whole page or an entire document. Particular attention is focused on the relative merits of SVG and PDF in this regard and on the desirability, in any document layout language, of being able to manipulate the graphic properties of document components parametrically, and at a level of granularity smaller than an entire page

Publisher: IS&T / SPIE
Year: 2006
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Nottingham ePrints

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