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Re: About file formats (was Re: [Axiom-developer] First (quick & dirty)

From: michel . lavaud
Subject: Re: About file formats (was Re: [Axiom-developer] First (quick & dirty) port of Axiom to gcl-2.5.2 and powerpc architecture)
Date: Tue, 6 May 2003 12:57:57 +0200

Hello Tim,

> Actually, dvi is a reasonable default choice, but it lacks a lot.
> We'd like to have active objects within the pamphlet files (e.g.
> graphics, executable equations, etc). This is clearly within the
> current technology albeit not within the dvi format.

Sorry, I think I did not explain my point of view clearly. It is not
because something is not in dvi format that one has to abandon the dvi
format, thanks precisely to the \special mechanism, that leaves it open to
extensions, in cooperation with something else. There are dvi viewers that
can rotate text, display colors, branch to an URL or launch a program when
you click on an item in the window of the dvi viewer, as you can do with
pdf, or etc. If something is missing in what you need, it has just to be
added to the viewer, and introduced into the viewer via the command
\special{hello viewer : do this and that}. This is what is done by the
package hyperref that David cited, and other actions (color, rotations) by
package graphicx, etc.

It is exactly as in natural languages: when you read in a newspaper, for
example, that " a criminal has been discovered by means of an ADN test",
the word ADN does not belong to English nor any natural language, it
belongs to the language of Biological sciences, and you do mentally  the
equivalent of a \special{Def BIOLOGY:Def MACROMOLECULE:Def ADN}. The fact
that the word ADN does belong to Biological language and not to English
language, is no reason to abandon the English language for another more
sophisticated language that would contain ADN word built-in. (if you think
that ADN is an English word, OK : let suppose you want to express the
phrase in the language of an Amazonian tribe :-)

Even with pdf, if it knows in principle color, rotations, etc. it relies
anyway on the viewer to display them, so there is no difference as for the

So what is the difference in my opinion between pdf and dvi format :
dvi is stable in time, while pdf varies out of our control, as the doc

If something is missing to dvi, add it to the viewer and define a TeX
command that will describe all the actions you want to do. For example, if
you want to display the ADN of a moskito in 3D and have it rotate in 3
dimensions when moving the mouse from within your dvi file, this is
possible : just add the function to the viewer and define the command

> It would help to think about computational mathematics at the 30
> year horizon. We ought to be able to have the research, the test
> cases, the code, the user docs, and even the proofs (machine proofs,
> as well as human) available. They should be in a form that can be
> executed and combined. In fact, we can probably expect that the
> computational nature of the system is assumed and that the "book-like"
> nature of the system will dominate. Books have long been a repository
> of knowledge and the code is currently divorced from that repository.
> That's not to suggest that just taking a textbook and making it active
> is the correct way to view a future system. However, it is likely that
> Axiom will evolve in the general direction of a system that communicates
> from mathematician to mathematician in addition to a tool for a
> to do research and teaching.

> So format choices are important, indeed, vital choices. I've taken the
> default of dvi because I haven't thought thru the ideas to arrive at a
> good solution (due to lack of time so far) rather than by choice.
> It's 30 years from now and all of the known mathematics is available
> in computer readable format as well as all of its supporting materials
> (research papers, books, etc). How will Axiom be used to learn, teach,
> and support research? Discuss among yourselves. You have 1 hour.

I sprang in 2033 for you and I made two tests:

1 - Run AcrobatReader MyCourseIWroteThirtyYearsAgo.pdf

Answer of the console : @#{}~}{} Obsolete format for twenty five years two
minutes and thirty seconds !!! Use Acrobat Reader version 732A bis
modified 32c by Spruct Software Inc

Google: ? Spruct Software Inc ?

Answer: Bought Adobe research Inc in 2017, Died in 2021

2 - Run AcrobatReader MyCourseIWroteThirtyYearsAgo.dvi

Answer : Hello, I'm here, cos(2x)+sin(3y) to powerX equals...

Best wishes :-)

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