Saturday, July 28, 2007

Taming PSNormalizer

For distilling a PDF on the Mac I had to unlearn almost everything. Or at least I have to use some more tools, while ignoring others. What I shall write down now is the product of one night of intensive research by googling with lots of trial-and-error.

So, producing the .ps with lout was easy and just like on Solaris. But there is no Distiller in my setup, instead I normally use Preview.app. Double-clicking on the .ps file in the Finder usually is sufficient. Not this time, though, because the Latin Modern fonts were missing, and Preview.app substitutes Courier for them. Clearly a suboptimal solution.
Dropping the .pfb and .afm files into the Fonts folder (personal or system Libraries/Fonts) only had the effect of locking up Preview.app with every job. This is what other people also report in support forums. I removed the font files again.
The solution must be including the font into the .ps file. There is a small utility called includeres in the MacPorts psutils package. Unfortunately the script did not run out of the box, I had to edit it to invoke perl by full pathname (#!/opt/local/bin/perl). But then I had to symlink LMRoman9-Regular to lmr9.pfb for this approach to work. Opening the resultant pimped up .ps file with Preview.app resulted in the well-known hangup. Hmmm, .pfb is apparently not palatable for Preview.app.

So I began digging deeper. It looked like there is a PSNormalizer entry in the /tmp/ directory. It seems to be the bastard child of Distiller, licensed to Apple from Adobe. I figured it also has a command-line interface pstopdf too. PSNormalizer seems to be a private system framework, with a certain directory structure. After finding it on my HD, I could examine its contents. There is a Resource/ directory with fonts/ in it. I dropped my .pfb there. Hangup. At least I knew now that I am on the right path. PSNormalizer looks for fonts in Resource/fonts/ and after that in ~/Library/Fonts and the global /Library/Fonts.
Resource/fonts/ has two files in it, one of them being Courier. Looking at the dump, it seemed very close to .pfb files, but all ascii. It must be a .pfa file! From here it was easier to proceed:
  1. grabbing a pfb2pfa converter from CTAN (part of ps2mf)
  2. with a small script converting all .pfbs to .pfas
  3. dropping these into Resource/fonts/
  4. redistilling
This time it worked! But it is tiresome to invoke Preview.app all the time using the mouse, so I am using pstopdf now, which is a perfect substitute for Distiller. Also I have my .pfas in /Library/Fonts/, so everybody on that Mac has access to them.

Nevertheless I could relax at this point, and do some experimentation. Here are some things I stumbled upon:
  • PSNormalizer/Startup/ can contain arbitrary .ps files that are run before each distillation job starts. This can be useful for customization.
  • Resource/startupNORM.ps contains some interesting code and can probably also be modified.
  • Using includeres with .pfa fonts also works.
  • The PSRESOURCEPATH environment variable does not seen to affect pstopdf.
  • pstopdf has two brothers, pstopnm and pstops. I still have to find out what they are good for.
  • And there is more: ps2epsi and many other commands starting with "ps" come from the Ghostscript MacPorts package.
All in all, I feel much better about the PDF-workflow on the Mac now :-)

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