Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Thursday, June 18, 2009

an interesting concept

Pagehand is a new word processor for the Mac whose native file format is PDF — yep, it saves its documents as PDFs. I’m not sure what I think about this. Whatever you write in it is immediately shareable across all platforms with maximum compatibility, and that’s good. But the documents won't be readily editable, which is not so good. I can see this being an attractive option to people who regularly need to print their documents and want those documents to keep their formatting — but how many such people are there these days?

5 comments:

  • I've been fortunate enough to have avoided using a word processor for long enough that it seems like a foreign concept to me. I think that merging the concepts of layout and logical structure was the huge downfall of word processing. Certainly layout informs how the content is going to be read, but why does the default have to be so ugly or prompt people to work in ways that are anti-structure. Is it because mathematitions and computer scientists are already structure oriented that can't stand anything but LaTeX? I hear that Biologists live in a Word dominated world; do they just not know any better? I think the current trend with Wiki's and tracked collaboration make has made for a resurgence in separation between layout and logical structure, but again is that just catering to those of us that would do that anyway?

  • Alan Jacobs said...

    I'm with you, Ryan. It's plain text all the way for me, though I rarely use LaTeX.

  • The strange thing about PDF is you can embed any sort of data you want into the file in a way that it would just get ignored by a PDF viewer. So it really would be trivial to take Word and make it's file format "PDF" which would really be PDF with a Word file embedded in it (you do not want to see the depths of abuse Adobe puts in their files). Same goes for embedding LaTeX in a PDF.

  • Tony Comstock said...

    I write everything out in longhand with a quill held in my toes, then scan using a roll-your-own OCR program.

    Then I e-mail to Alan, who serves as my archivist.

  • As a revenue-generating platform, the Mac OS really is quite ingenious. Package something that anyone can easily do for free (i.e., creating a pdf file), cripple its functionality, and sell it for $39.95. Brilliant!

    I think this software would be a much more successful if it saved the file in plain text format and exported it to pdf. Oh wait. I think some other tools do that... Markdown, LaTeX (and Lyx), reStructured text, emacs muse...

Post a Comment

[Basic HTML tags can be used in this comment field.]