Re: Word attachment...on linuxtoday

Charles Iliya Krempeaux <tnt linux ca> writes:
> On Sat, 2002-01-12 at 13:34, Franck Martin wrote:
> > In the latest technologies for e-books we see coming more proprietary
> > format. I think it is time GNU do to documents what ogg vorbis did to
> > mp3.
> Scott Johnston (a.k.a. sej) suggested to me (through Advogato
> <>) that "the Sketch[1] format might be complete
> enough" for this task.[2]
> [1]  The Sketch homepage is at:

It's definitely not enough for e-books or a PDF replacement (which is
what Franck Martin apparently had in mind).

> Or at least something you can build upon.

Perhaps, but only as far as vector graphics is concerned. Sketch's file
format so far is really only meant as an application specific format and
only supports what Sketch supports. It also has some warts and is not
really very well designed in some places. I should know :) It's a bit
better already in Sketch 0.7, though.

If you want to go about designing a document file format, you'll have to
decide first what kind of information you want to include in it. PDF for
instance is pretty much a print-only format. PDF 1.4 has some support
for flowable text that should make it better for screen reading, though.

At the other end of the spectrum would be something like doc-book which
is practically only logical mark-up.

Doc-book doesn't do any graphics, unlike PDF, so what seems to be
missing is a free vector-graphics format.

Existing candidates for that which come to mind:

 - GNU metafile (from the plotutils).

 - EPS

 - SVG (only the non-patent encumbered parts, if there are any)

I'm not sure Sketch's format should be considered :)

EPS is very complex because postscript is a complete programming
language, but free interpreters exist. OTOH, it's relatively low-level.
It doesn't have a concept of objects, for instance and is pretty much
final form (i.e. you can easily create it, but it's hard to edit later).
Requires postscript level 3 for some advanced features like real
gradients. Big plus: It's already a standard format in the professional
graphics world.

GNU metafile is already established as a vector graphics exchange
format. It's been too long since I last looked at it closer, but I seem
to recall that it doesn't have gradients for instance.

SVG is a bit problematic because of the patents, but not everything of
SVG is patented and whatever patents actually do apply to SVG would
apply to any other format just as well.

Howver, SVG is a very complex standard, because it pulls in lots of
other W3C standards. OTOH, it's XML based.

There are a lot of other pros and cons for these format. If I were to
design a new format for vector graphics interchange, I'd probably start
with a subset of SVG and perhaps some additional features.


Intevation GmbH                       

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