RE: FW: PageMaker file extension and portability

Subject: RE: FW: PageMaker file extension and portability
From: BMcClain -at- centura -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2000 13:39:56 -0500

Thx for response, Dick. Replies below.

Bill McClain
("Writers are always selling somebody out." - Joan Didion)

-----Original Message-----
From: Dick Margulis [mailto:margulis -at- fiam -dot- net]
Sent: Wednesday, November 15, 2000 5:09 PM
To: McClain, Bill; TECHWR-L
Subject: Re: FW: PageMaker file extension and portability

<<In any case, what would be Adobe's purpose in making the file format
open? Does Microsoft publish the structure of their Word files? Not that
I'm aware of.>>

In a word: conversion. It's possible to convert from QuarkExpress to PM,
but (AFAIK) not the other way. And who knows: With the advent of Linux and
the open-source software movement, plenty of hackers out there bemoan the
fact that MS won't openly publish the Word filespec.

Who's to say some wunderkind hacker out there isn't putting together a
killer page-layout program that could go head-to-head with them both?
(Arguably GIMP can give Photoshop et al. a run for their money.) But
without knowing one's way around the guts of Word documents, it's not an
easy thing to write import/export software -- an essential feature of such
an app.

Also, I very vaguely recall some dust-up in the mid-90s wherein Adobe and
some other organization got into a "No, you first" impasse about developing
translators for importing and exporting to/from PM. Anybody who'd like to
regale me with the details might want to contact me offline.

<<Most software publishers rather prefer that you buy their programs to
read their files, don't they?>>

Of course. Competition aside, knowing the file structure would make it
easier to write open-source utilities that could search through a Word
document for things like style usages. But, AIUI, if you want to know how
MS Word makes files, you have to pay Microsoft a princely sum for the
privilege. If anybody knows differently, I hope it gets announced on

<<Finally, it is not altogether obvious that anyone at Adobe would
actually be able to publish a full description of the file format. Adobe
bought the company that originated PageMaker, Aldus, several years back.
I suspect the core code is as shrouded in mystery to the current
programming staff as that of Word is to the Microsoft nerds.>>

Well, I thought Adobe bought Aldus in its entirety when the acquired PM.
Maybe there are some remaining licensing issues involved with third-party
software technology (a big reason why we'll probably never live to see OS/2
put in the public domain). Or maybe somebody on the development team still
owns rights to his/her code.

"McClain, Bill" wrote:
> I've often wondered why there are third-party products that can translate
> Adobe's PDF format used in Acrobat, but nobody's ever come up with a
> for PageMaker. Did Adobe open the PDF specification? If so, why not do
> for PageMaker's files? Or was the former reverse-engineered but not the
> latter?

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