Creating my Shadowfist card lists

Gathering the data

The first step in creating these card lists is getting all the texts and other information into the computer. I cannot take credit for this. Most of the actually typing was done by other people. I just gathered the data already in computer-readable form from various sites on the WWW and USENET. My primary sources were the card lists created by Chris Quenelle and Stephen D'Angelo. I formatted the data into a consistent format for my purposes, and used various tools to look for differences between versions. In this way, I could find many typos and inaccuracies, which I corrected against my own collection.

Outputting in ASCII

The format I use to store the data is a pipe-separated ASCII database, which isn't terribly readable. I use a Perl script to read in the data, sort it, and then output the data on each line in what I hope is an easily readable report. These become my ASCII card lists. The same script is used for all four of the ASCII lists -- I just use a different filter for each one.

Outputting in Postscript

Creating the Postscript version is more complicated. Again, I use a Perl script to read and sort the data, but the data from each line is output in LaTeX format. LaTeX is a document preparation system based on TeX, Donald Knuth's system for typesetting mathematics. TeX is a powerful system used by mathematicians everywhere. LaTeX adds many macros and packages to make TeX easier to use. The one I use for this document is the longtables package, which makes creating the tables easy. Once I get the LaTeX document, I run LaTeX on it to create a DVI document. This is converted to a Postscript document via dvips.

Outputting in PDF

Creating the PDF version is even more complicated. From the Postscript document, it's possible to create a PDF version using Adobe Distiller or ghostscript. So presumably, that's just one more step. But there are more things to consider.

Adobe Distiller is a commercial product, though, while ghostscript is free. Being a poor student, this means I'm using ghostscript. But ghostscript has some limitations. One of them is that any fonts used in the Postscript document outside of the base 14 Postscript fonts (i.e., the Times, Helvetica, and Courier families, the Symbol font, and ZapfDingbats) are converted to bitmapped fonts for inclusion in the PDF document. These fonts become very huge. The Postscript document is typeset in Computer Modern, and so ghostscript would make it unacceptably huge.

So I ended up re-running LaTeX, this time telling it to typeset the document in Times. (I use the pslatex package.) Then I send it thru dvips and ghostscript to get a PDF file of manageable size. This is a shame, because I like Computer Modern better than Times.

I believe that Adobe Distiller handles fonts better than ghostscript. Does this mean that someone could use Adobe Distiller on my Postscript file to get a reasonably sized PDF file typeset in Computer Modern? Well, I'm not sure. When Donald Knuth designed TeX, there weren't all these fonts running all over the place, and mathematical typesetting places special demands on fonts. So he designed his own fonts, and his own font technology. The upshot of this is that dvips, by default, does not use Postscript fonts in its output. Instead, it generates bitmaps for the Computer Modern font at the appropiate resolution (usually 300 dpi.) So if Adobe Distiller converted by Postscript file, it would have to use the bitmapped font, instead of a Postscript font.

Postscript version of the Computer Modern font have now been developed, so it is possible, I think, to get dvips to include the Computer Modern Postscript font, which Adobe Distiller could work with. But this would require some effort on my part, and I still wouldn't be able to use Adobe Distiller.

Another thing I could try is pdftex, which goes directly from LaTeX to PDF, but I haven't been able to get that to work yet.

I'm not very familar with PDF, and I'm sure that I lot of people know more about this than me. If you could give me any advice about this LaTeX to PDF process, I'd appreciate it.

I am the keeper of Gummi Wisdom!

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