[mandelbrot set] MATH DEPT Computer News, Volume 2

How to handle .pdf files on the web: acroread, distill, and Netscape

Click on RELOAD now. This page is frequently updated and you might be looking at an old version saved by your netscape cache.

This page is rather outdated. The new Linux servers support the commands pdflatex and pdftex that create a PDF file directly from the TeX source file. If you run TeX to create a DVI file, you can then run dvipdf, which will create a PDF file from the DVI file. There is also ps2pdf that will convert a PostScript file to PDF.

The information below used to work nicely on the Solaris SUN system.

The math department has installed the program Acrobat in order to allow users to display and view things like TeX output on the web. I shall explain how to use the Acrobat software and how to display TeX output on the web.

To appreciate what I am talking about, try to see the old qualifer exams that are posted on our math dept home page at Old Exams.

The department is now displaying old qualifier exams on the web in the form of .pdf files. PDF (Portable Document Format) files have names like ma530.pdf and they can be viewed with the "acroread" command. I shall explain how to use the sequence of commands

amstex file.tex
dvips -Pweb file.dvi
distill file.ps
rm file.ps
acroread file.pdf &

to create and view PDF files below.

The first thing you will need to do is to make sure that Acrobat is in your path. (It should be there by default.) Type

which acroread

If the output of this command is

no acroread in .....

then you need to look at these instructions on how to add Acrobat to your path.

TeX on the web

Here is an explanation of how to place TeX'ed material on your web pages.

Let's say I have an old MATH 262 final exam called final.tex that I want to display on my home page. First I would use tex or amstex or latex to TeX the file. For example

amstex final.tex

Next, I would prepare a special PostScript version of the file suitable for conversion to a .pdf file like this:

dvips -Pweb final.dvi

This last command creates the file final.ps which I would next use to create the .pdf file using the distill command (which is part of the Acrobat package).

distill final.ps

This last command creates the file final.pdf which you can view by typing

acroread final.pdf

(If you use latex, and all you want is a PDF file for output, you can bypass the dvips command altogether by typing simply,

pdflatex final.tex

This command creates final.pdf without creating the intermediate .ps file.)

To display this old final on my web page, I would move the files


to my WWW directory and type

chmod og+r final.*

to make the files readable to the outside world.

Finally, I would add the following lines to my Welcome.html home page file (or to my math262.html file).

<LI><A HREF="./final.ps">Final Exam</A> in PostScript format
<LI><A HREF="./final.dvi">The same exam</A> in .dvi format
<LI><A HREF="./final.tex">The same exam</A> in tex
<LI><A HREF="./final.pdf">The same exam</A> in .pdf format

Go to
<A HREF="http://www.adobe.com/prodindex/acrobat/readstep.html">
to download the free Acrobat program for viewing .pdf files.

Here's that last link again for you to follow in case you want to install Acrobat at home:

Download Adobe Acrobat Reader for free.

You can also edit PDF files using the Acro-Exchange program. The command is


This is very handy if you want to glue two PDF files into one PDF file.

REMARKS: The PostScript file generated by the dvips -Pweb final.dvi command can be rather large because it contains whole fonts and lots of other extra junk. If you want a smaller PostScript version of the exam to post on the web, I would remove the file final.ps that was created by the dvips -Pweb command and then type

dvips -f final.dvi > final.ps

Rodrigo Bañuelos points out that one can even import pictures into PDF-TeX documents in other formats such as pdf, jpg or tif provided one uses pdflatex or pdftex to go directly from the tex file to a pdf file. With lots of pictures (actual photos for example), if one imports the files in jpg format, this seems to produce much smaller pdf files than what one would get by changing the pictures to eps format, producing the dvi file, then the ps file, and then the pdf file with distiller. (Unfortunately it appears that you cannot do this using the Math Department tex since it seems to have an old version of pdftex.) See Network News Volume 7 for information about putting figures in TeX documents.

Back to the Network News Index Page