[reportlab-users] ReportLab vs LaTex

François Pinard pinard at iro.umontreal.ca
Thu Dec 28 23:58:22 EST 2006

[Tim Roberts]

>The primary focus of TeX and LaTeX is beauty.

Knuth discussed this particular matter at length somewhere. The primary
goal of typography is legibility. When people or software mainly seek
beauty while typesetting, they really miss the goal.

One sad example, especially sad since it came out of Unix, is the
simultaneous left-right justification in "man" pages through "nroff",
using fixed-width fonts. While this is considered more beautiful than
ragged right edge, this has been demonstrated to decrease legibility and
slow down reading.

Now, this being said, when two typographical approaches are otherwise
comparable at the legibility level, beauty is surely considered, as it
increases reader's comfort, and consequently, reader's resistance to
fatigue. But legibility is undoubtedly the primary focus.

>Each one has its place. If I were writing a book or a research paper,

>I'd use LaTeX. If I were creating a registration form or an inventory

>report, I'd use ReportLab.

I really think ReportLab could reuse the good from LaTeX at the basic
typographical level. It is extremely unusual, so for that I know, that
ReportLab users really place each character themselves (they could
manage inter-character or inter-word spacing, but the font still usually
drives the width of each character). ReportLab would not be any less
useful if it was knowing more about ligatures and kerning. Word
segmentation issues are surely difficult, tricky, and language
dependent, yet there is a good amount of knowledge about such things in
the free software world.

Of course, someone somewhere has to volunteer doing such things, and it
would be totally unrealistic that I propose myself, I just do not have
enough free time. My only point here is that it is not out of the realm
of ReportLab, so far that I understand it, trying to recycle some
quality ideas from TeX for the basic usage of fonts. ReportLab would
not be "out of his place" by doing so.

Have Happy Times, all! :-)

François Pinard http://pinard.progiciels-bpi.ca

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