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Re: (TFT) PDF format & megahexes.

Warren Dew comments on formats for electronic game stuff:

> I dislike PDF format because it's extremely kludgy to use on a 
> computer - flipping pages works fine with a book, but it just isn't 
> the same in PDF. 

That probably depends on your computer; the pages flip pretty quickly
and smoothly on my machines, but I have heard from a few people using
older boxes that PDF in general is kinda klunky.

So the big question is: if PDF doesn't do it for you, do you have any
suggestions for alternative formats?

> A computer format ought to be designed for use on a computer.

As I said, PDF works pretty well on my boxes, which are a collection of
various Windows, DOS, Linux, and Mac machines ranging from brand new to
three years old. It's by no means indicative of every piece of hardware
and software out there, which is why I'm interesting in hearing from
people who are having problems with the format.

> For stuff that must be printed out for use, where you end up with a 
> book anyway, it might be appropriate, though I don't see much of an 
> advantage over ASCII text.  (Text can also be printed much faster from 
> inkjet printers, which I suspect are the most common type these days.)  

Most people probably expect to print out hardcopies of the files prior
to game time, certainly when the files in question are rules for a
miniatures wargame. Even for a TFT adventure, I'd suspect a pre-game
printout to be the common mode. I see your point though.

Straight ASCII text isn't really a viable alternative, since that loses
all the graphics, example illustrations, and most importantly, the
layout of the charts and tables. I spend a lot of time getting the
layout *just right*, and all that is lost when it's converted to ASCII
text. When I first put Napoleon at Chattanooga online, I put it up in
PostScript (ugh!), HTML with links to the graphics files, and straight
ASCII. I think it lost a lot in the translation. 

What I'm doing currently is putting the files up in PDF format, and if
anyone needs the files in any other format (even ASCII!) they can e-mail
me, I'll do the conversions and e-mail the files back. Plus, since the
stuff is all free and distribution is encouraged, if somebody doesn't
have a suitable printer at home they can glom a hardcopy off of a buddy
who does. One guy running events at a con in Finland handed out copies
of GL to anyone who asked for it, which I thought was a real nice thing
to do. 

> I'd prefer rules that I could use from my laptop, though.

I think that's still kind of rare these days. I use my laptops for
computer-assist miniatures rules like SB3 and GL:CAV, but I don't use
them for live rules-looking-up.


David Ferris               Senior Technical Staff Member
dferris@research.att.com   AT&T Labs Research
Room B015, 973-360-8664    http://www.research.att.com/info/dferris
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