> That's actually almost exactly what is done today. the "baroque programming language" is postscript.
Of course. That's why I _said_ it.
Postscript, in this context, cannot be thought of as a document format. It's a printer control language.
It's wrong to treat it like it's a document. It's a scripting language that instructs printers on how to print out documents. And as such it needs to be edited on the fly and based on the preferences of users in different manners for different printers.
Which is why it's important that you use a centralized program to manage this as much as possible. The program should just tell the daemon that 'I want low quality color collated front to back with pages 1-5 stapled together' and have the system deal with it as much as possible.
> but we've seen what happens when every program needs to adjust it's document to the printer in question, the result is the windows printing mess where loading a different printer driver can change your document layout drastically.
That's not surprising since each printer can be drastically different and different PPD files (aka 'printer drivers', aka 'postscript printer description' files) expose different capabilities.
Unless your program can change the document to suite the printer then it's just a guessing game on the part of the user as to how it's going to look when printed. However, obviously you don't want to force every application to be a desktop layout suite. So therefore you want the system to handle as much as the complexity as possible for applications that don't need it.
This is why you will always needs CUPS or something just as complex to replace it. You can't get away from it. Printing is a huge pain the ass.