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Back to Marcel's original mail:

> - I believe the only reasonable default _input encoding_ is UTF8.
>   Being a superset of ASCII while covering all of unicode, it seems
>   the ideal long-time solution to all input-encoding related problems.
>   UTF8 is also becoming rather well supported by editors and other
>   applications.

i can agree to seeing it (perhaps) becoming a default input encoding one day;
it certainly has some appealing features.

> - In particular, defaulting to any other 8-bit input encoding in
>   LaTeX2e should be avoided at all cost because it would really mess
>   up the upgrade path to UTF8 later.  (As far as I understand, the

no problem for me as i would like to keep the default input encoding "ASCII"
for the moment

>   proposed default of \usepackage[T1]{fontenc} does not default any
>   8bit input encoding.  Is this correct?)

T1 is a font encoding and irrelevant with respect to input encodings, unless
you are Thierry and misuse the fact that some of the font positions fit with
some 8bit input encoding positions in your code page on your machine so that
you can pass them right through :-)

> - A regular user should never have to specify the _font encoding_.

that would be the ideal, but unfortunately we are currently far from it.
which is what we really should talk about (how to get there)

>   There should only be language environments (as provided by babel)
>   and font packages (e.g. times, palatino).  This means:
>
>   * Babel (or something providing equivalent functionality---I
>     strongly believe that it should become part core LaTeX3) must be

not Babel (though Babel is core of 2e as it is supported by a core team
member) since babel is the trying to support all kind of legacy things, which
is what it should in the current situation but which makes it unsuitable to be
fully make it unchanged into the kernel of a 2e successor.

otherwise yes.

>     endowed with a default set of fonts for all languages it supports.

with some sort of multiple encoding concept like the one outlined in my
handwaving implementation, this might in fact be possible

>     Some language environment defaults could be marked experimental,
>     meaning that associated fonts and TFMs may change once better
>     quality free fonts become available, but all languages must work
>     "out of the box".

do i hear a volunteer crying out I want to help?

>     One the other hand, languages like german for
>     which the EC fonts are well accepted (?), could be frozen straigt
>     away.

Not really. but anyway. if you want to hear a provocative statement (to get
some more mail tonight):

are we sure we want to stay with T1?

I mean, don't we know by now that a number of ideas we had when we came up
with T1 (ie the Cork encoding) are full of flaws? (yes I was one of the guys
being part of the group of people deciding on it, so yes i can blame myself
:-)

should it perhaps be LY1 suitably renamed (or something similar)?

>   * The language environment chooses the default font encoding unless
>     a font package is explicitly loaded.  There may be more than one

what is that supposed to mean? (the unless part)

>     language environment per language if different typographical
>     esthetics need to be satisfied.

perhaps to the second part, i guess i would think this should be modelled
differently but perhaps we are thinking of the same expressing it differently

>   * Babel must hook into the currently active font package.  If a
>     language environment is selected, the font package must be called
>     to set itself up.  In other words, every font package must make a
>     decision about encoding as a function of the language selected.

i guess that is impractical.

a) it would mean that each such font package would need to know about any
language ever being added to the language support of LaTeX or worse about
every language environemt as you called it above. otherwise you would end up
with a very complex set of defaults which are 99% of the time used anyway and
probably in 50% not suitable.

b) it would be absolutely near to impossible to change the behaviour of the
system as everything is happening at different levels.

c) finally i think it is putting up the sattle from the back (in case that is
a phrase that translates :-). i mean a font package is first of all a font
package and as such should provide fonts. it is up to the language support
/language environment to decide which of those fonts in what way it is
interested to use, not the other way around.

>     If the language is unknown to the font package, a warning or an
>     error must be issued.  (I am sure the set of supported
>     language-font pairs will grow quickly if a good mechanism for
>     soliciting contributions is implemented.)

probably as fast as the support for varioref strings over the years.

>   * Maybe one can introduce commands like
>       \uselanguage{spanish}
>       \usefont{times}
>     and autoload the necessary packages, to make clear that these
>     attributes function orthogonally to each other and to "ordinary"
>     packages.

ahh, do they? then why all the discussion above and before?

they are orthogonal right now and that is something some people think should
at least be customizable.

> - Is there really a need for breaking the distinction of math mode
>   vs. non-math mode?

guess there are at least two people on the list which should have some saying
here (Vladimir and Apostolos) as both of them have written support for
removing the distinction and would like to see it go officially.

>   As far as Greek letters go, the most common one
>   is $\mu$ in units.

in German or English texts you mean? :-)

perhaps that is slightly different in Greek texts? perhaps? :-)

>   This raises the question if one should not
>   provide standard markup for units anyway (some journal packages are
>   doing it---there are also spacing issues involved that warrant
>   special treatment), for example as a "tools" package in the standard
>   LaTeX distribution.

that is something which we all thought being useful but never came around
doing. but just providing standard names would be beneficial already.

> - For special needs, such as easy typing of cyrillic math in 7bit
>   ASCII one could provide special input encodings.

yes, that would be my line too, except for:

>   In full unicode
>   this shouldn't be a problem, should it?

since i don't see what it has to do with the line before.

> I am aware that some of these demands cannot really be met within
> Knuthian TeX, but it seems LaTeX3 is prepared to eventually go beyond
> TeX.  So it may be useful to define a minimal set of required
> extensions/changes, as this issue could be a major roadblock to
> enlarging the developer base.  For example, is there much motivation
> for anybody to clean up the hyphenation mess before a clean long-term
> solution (not just a work-around) is agreed on?

i think i started from that end at tome point in the afternoon (so better not