back to article Scottish Boundary Commission: We don't need no stinkin' PDFs

The Boundary Commission for Scotland (BCS) has said it will publish shapefiles of its initial proposals for constituencies after the Boundary Commission for England (BCE) was criticised for not doing so. The BCS said it had "watched with interest" the response to the BCE's publication of its initial proposals for constituencies …

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Anonymous Coward

Bloody hell

Some government offices CAN learn from mistakes...

Well done them.

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Nice to see

that screwing things up the first time around has been tried out in England first. Makes for a pleasant change.

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A .gov entity just saying "no" to PDFs?

I can only applaud. It's about fucking time SOMEONE in government noticed PDFs are a fucking useless waste of bandwidth. Hopefully this will trickle down world-wide ...

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Anonymous Coward

More detail please

@jake: "PDFs are a useless waste"

This is not a criticism - just intrigued.

What's wrong with PDF? I've found it a godsend for distributing documents that *everyone* can open without losing formatting, colour, fonts, etc. And what would you recommend as an alternative?

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Happy

Proper Uses for PDFs

@Ralph.

And you seem to be using PDFs properly. That kind of "human-readable" use is what they're good for. I used to use them similarly in the digital printing industry.

What they're _Not_ useful for is transmitting information that you might like to be _machine_ readable, like maps that you might want to import into a GIS or mash-up with other data.

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@MichaelBirks

"I used to use them similarly in the digital printing industry."

::shudder:: The evil work of marketing.

My own pre-press work is simple film & stripping ... Allows me to express myself (Late '60s Heidelberg Windmill OHT 10X13, early '70s KORD, and a nondescript Chief 217, along with a 40" Polar cutter, currently reside in my print shop).

Don't forget that "machine readable" also includes folks whose eyes may not be quite as perfect as yours are ... If you have information to impart, it's important to get that info out there. Glitter? Maybe not so much ...

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@Ralph 5

What's wrong with PDF is that the vast majority of PDFs would be better off presented as ASCII text, at least from a bandwidth and storage perspective.

I mean, seriously ... I've seen B&W job applications that could be delivered as <40K of ASCII text rendered as >19 Meg PDFs. This is not a positive use of computing resources, no matter how you look at it.

And that word "everyone" ... I don't think it means what you think it does. Many people cannot perceive your "formatting, colo(u)r, fonts, etc." And many of the rest of us don't give a rat's ass about your attempt at "brightening up" what should be a simple document.

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Anonymous Coward

Plain text fine - in the right context

@jake: "I've seen B&W job applications that could be delivered as <40K of ASCII text rendered as >19 Meg"

Can't imagine how they achieved that. I quickly tested that - made a plain text file weighing in at 42,293 bytes, and when saved as PDF came to 46,974 bytes. An increase, but hardly significant.

@jake: "many of the rest of us don't give a rat's ass about your attempt at "brightening up" what should be a simple document"

Plain text is fine for some things - source code, config files, etc. Not much use when you're producing anything with images, or documents anything like a book containing table of contents (linking to page numbers), glossary, footnotes, sections, illustrations, hyperlinked cross-references, etc. Fonts, style, and colour do wonders for readability too. Effective communication with human readers is what matters in this case, not size or bandwidth. That might not be your world, but it's essential for many - don't sneer at it. It seems to me the PDF is unmatched in this role.

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Beware Of The Leopard

"Hugh Buchanan, secretary for the Scottish body, explained that it was very important that the Scottish public engage in the consultation."

Yeah, right. That'll be why they are publishing the data in a highly specialised form which a very small number of people will be able to read instead of in a form which almost every computer in the country can display.

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Boundary Commission for Scotland

Thanks for the coverage of the Guardian Computing story about the Boundary Commission for Scotland’s intention to distribute a shape file of its Initial Proposals for constituencies when these are published on 13 October.

However, your headline is grossly misleading. We will be publishing PDFs as well as distributing a shape file. For many of those interested in the review, PDF remains a very valuable and easy-to-use tool for viewing a map of our Proposals.

Hugh Buchanan

Secretary, Boundary Commission for Scotland

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Now there's something you don't see every day....

The grossly misleading headlines are something of a tradition around here, though. It wouldn't be quite as much fun without them.

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In my day

We used to get boundary commision maps in books, with nice tracing paper overlays to show the boundary changes. Bloody nice they were, too.

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Facepalm

Any apologies from Ian Johnston?

Way to go Hugh

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Why?

I was only responding to a report which, I am glad to see, was wrong. There is certainly an apology owed, but not by me.

Love and kisses.

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Informed Solutions?

a "spatial information and systems consultancy"... if they are so good at visualising information... why does their website look like cack?

Me thinks they got the job because it's run by somebody on the councils brothers sisters cousin.

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Anonymous Coward

PDF isn't a problem

500 individual files with no overview is a problem. But PDF is about as open as it gets and a lot more useful to normal people than some specialist format most of us have never heard of and have no way of rendering.

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Headmaster

The Reg have really got to speed up comment display

They obviously took an hour to put up Hugh Buchanan's comment, otherwise you wouldn't have made yourself look silly by implying that shape files are the only ones available

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Indeed. You'll see that his post is timed eleven minutes after mine.

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BCS doing something useful? Ah, different BCS!

I was puzzled for a moment when I saw the initials BCS connected to something useful.

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Anonymous Coward

Is anyone here actually up to date with PDF and Adobe Reader technology?

If you were, you'd know that since 2 versions ago Acrobat PDFs can contain full GIS info in maps, including object data from ESRI systems.

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