The main role of publisher is the qvw´s distribution and it´s the only "oficial" way to distribute pdf´s.
For huge deployment with very big QVWs, you should use publisher to "loop and reduce" creating small versions of QVW in the server wich will be accessed by your users. That you dramaticaly reduce the memory footprint in your server.
If I read between your lines.....Are you saying that you can refresh/export/distribute via macros, but you are not supposed to do that? And that, without a publisher, you cannot download the qvw from the server, but will have to rely on cumbersome manual e-mail distribution to distribute qvw?
I won´t mention the reload tasks, because it works integrated with QlikView Server now and is available for free if you have a Server License. You use it if you want to. But I see more than a pretty GUI here.
Sure you can do all that other distribution things through macro, but for larger deployments things are a little harder to handle. When using macro you will work out of QlikView's optimized core. Then, the performance when dealing with huge amounts of data will be a problem.
There are other problems using macro with multiple QVW because MACRO is "QVW driven". As you use QV Desktop to keep/run the macros, it will work with one QVW at a time. I found other difficulties using macros when dealing with advanced security and data reduction.
It was ok with macro when we had 5 to 10 QVW with 1 or 2 gb and 20 to 30 users. If we talk about a 20 gb QVW with 15.000 users, performance becomes crucial to the project.
It´s always a pleasure to discuss this kind of theme and learn how people are working out different solutions in their projects!
Fernando has some very good points.
However, if you have just a few relatively small documents you need to distribute to a small number of people then you can avoid the expense of Publisher.
Take my installation for example. Everything is driven by our main business system where for example we only want to reload documents after the invoicing run is complete, where the invoice run could occur anytime overnight. The last part of this process is a 'run remote command' which sends a call to a batch file on the Qlikview server. This batch file will call QLikview with a named document and using the '/r' switch (reload). The second line in the batch file is a call to a .vbs that creates an email to the email addresses defined in a spreadsheet and attaches the (reloaded) document to it. If its of any value the .vbs file is attached (I had to rename it to .txt for the upload here). The document is only a couple of Mbs though and only 20 or so recipients but works very well.
One of the big disadvantage I see in Publisher is that it does not have out of the box export to excel (correct me if I am wrong). Most of my users are used to getting static reports delivered in their inbox with an excel attachment.
If I have to use a macro to get the export to excel functionality, I am debating why not go the whole nine yards with the macros / windows batch combination.