Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I have seen many people linking postscript versions of their resume along with the pdf versions.

What purpose does it serve?

share|improve this question
I'd say it's a local tradition. Does the job require PostScript knowledge or are tools which give results in PS common in the field? – AndrejaKo Sep 25 '11 at 13:15
Simply put - human beings can actually write PostScript. Other than that, you can convert ps2pdf trivially. – new123456 Sep 25 '11 at 13:18
Postscript can be sent to supporting printers directly, and is the primary output format of latex (using dvips). – Daniel Beck Sep 25 '11 at 13:22

Postscript is a page description language and therefore a programming language. Postscript files can be rasterized by any Raster Image Processor, which are also to be found in some printers as well as specialized programs (e.g. ps2pdf), and as Daniel mentions, it's the primary output of LaTeX.

PDFs instead … I'll let Adobe talk here in their PS vs. PDF article:

It just so happens that PDF is built largely on the PostScript language, but it has been taken one step further. PostScript, as I said, was designed to describe a page. PDF does that as well, but beyond this, PDF can also contain information not only related to how a page looks, but also can describe how it behaves and what kind of information is contained in the file. […]

A PDF file is actually a PostScript file which has already been interpreted by a RIP and made into clearly defined objects.

That all being said, there are no technical advantages of Postscript over PDF. You can send a PS file directly to a printer, but that's about it.

This page shows how gzipped Postscript can be smaller than an equivalent PDF file, which might be an issue.

share|improve this answer
… so to summarize, no real purpose I guess? – slhck Sep 25 '11 at 13:21
Many printers can also accept PDFs directly as well now. – afrazier Sep 25 '11 at 13:57
Yes. Seems like a legacy thing. In professional printing and publication, PS is very welcomed too. – slhck Sep 25 '11 at 14:06
Even in the printing business, PDF has almost completely supplanted PS. (I work for a printing company.) – afrazier Sep 25 '11 at 19:46
@slhck No serious purpose. Common reason for preferring Postscript: somebody has an old workflow that's based on generating PS files and doesn't want to go to the trouble of installing PDF-generating software. A printing company once told me that they prefer PDF uploads, but still accept PS because maybe 1/3 of their customer still use them. – Isaac Rabinovitch Sep 29 '12 at 0:34

While @slhck's answer is true, so far as it goes, there's more to it. If you read the Camelot paper, you'll see that pdf represents a splitting of the Postscript technology. So there's more hacker cred to preferring Postscript. :)

Features PDF has that Postscript does not:

  • Layers and transparency.

Features Postscript has that PDF does not:

  • 7-bit clean (normally)
  • Potential for Algorithmic Compression through the use of loops and recursion. A small (<10KB) postscript program can easily generate a huge PDF document (>100MB).

As an example, my cv is far more clever as postscript than a pdf would be (logically, it must be at least twice as large, possibly three times).

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .