*ML’ family is available but not universally supported by browsers), and ‘exotic’ typescripts (ones that you cannot guarantee your readers will have available). Other common examples are generation of sample bitmaps, and generation for insertion into some other application’s display — to insert equations into Microsoft PowerPoint, or to support the enhanced-emacs setup called preview-latex. In the past, the commonest way of generating bitmaps was to generate a PostScript file of the DVI and then use ghostscript to produce the required bitmap format (possibly by way of PNM format or something similar). This is an undesirable procedure (it is tedious, involving requires two or three steps that run slowly) but it served for a long time. (La)TeX users may now take advantage of two bitmap ‘drivers’. The longer-established, dvi2bitmap, will generate XBM and XPM formats, the long-deprecated GIF format (which is now obsolescent, but has finally been relieved of the patent protection of the LZW compression it uses), and also the modern (ISO-standardised) PNG format. Dvipng started out as a PNG renderer; from version 1.2 it can also render to the GIF format. It is designed for speed, in environments that generate large numbers of PNG files: the README mentions preview-latex, LyX, and a few web-oriented environments. Note that dvipng gives high-quality output even though its internal operations are optimised for speed.
This answer last edited: 2013-04-19
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This is FAQ version 3.27, released on 2013-06-07.