Beginner's question: ways to generate PDF files

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Beginner's question: ways to generate PDF files

Dear group,

I used to write my documents using LaTeX (mostly several years ago) but recently
moved to Asciidoc(tor) in order to obtain other output formats more easily. (The
HTML output using the default stylesheet is beautiful! :-) )

Maybe my problem is that I know quasi nothing about DocBook, because after
having read quasi everything related at http://asciidoctor.org/docs/, my central
question still is:

What is a publishing toolchain?

More precisely, I found several ways to turn Asciidoctor markup into PDF
documents – and none of them seems to yield what I'm looking for. Ways that I
found to turn Asciidoctor markup into PDF:

   1. test.adoc  -->  asciidoctor-pdf  -->  test.pdf
   2. test.adoc  -->  asciidoctor-latex  -->  test.tex  -->  pdflatex  --> test.pdf
   3. test.adoc  -->  asciidoctor  -->  test.xml  -->  asciidoctor-fopub  -->
   4. test.adoc  -->  asciidoctor  -->  test.xml  -->  dblatex  -->  ??  -->
   5. test.adoc  -->  asciidoctor  -->  test.xml  -->  other?  -->  test.pdf
   6. test.adoc  -->  asciidoctor with tilt  -->  test.tex  -->  pdflatex  -->

I've tried 1 and 2 (both with slight problems, I'll post them separately in
another thread), but not (yet) the others.
Way 1 yields very good results that I'm very happy with, but I would still like
to explore some alternatives.

Way 2 is close to what I "really" want, but I would like to use a custom
preamble in the generated test.tex file (without hand editing the file each time
anew whenever it has been recreated). Less important but nice to have would be
minor customizations to the LaTeX elements in the generated document body.

How is this supposed to be accomplished?

I can see how a custom script can do that, e.g.

   2. test.adoc  -->  asciidoctor-latex  -->  test.tex  -->  custom_script.py
-->  patched_test.tex  -->  pdflatex  --> test.pdf

but I'm not sure if “publishing toolchain” implies that there are better ways to
achieve this?

Best regards,