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Sender: Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
From: Karl Berry <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Fri, 4 May 2018 22:36:29 GMT
Message-ID: <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
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Hello LaTeX folk. Oren (Patashnik) has expressed a desire to do
"whatever seems useful" (given that compatibility is paramount) with a
future BibTeX release -- not that anything is going to happen quickly,
but he wanted to start gathering information at this point.

For instance, clearly it would be nice to have a url field in the base
styles. But, what to do in the .bbl file? Assume \url{...} works? But
there have been different versions over the years and they don't all
accept the same thing, e.g., bare "#" and "%" in the url, not to mention
\url{...} vs. \url|...|, etc. And it induces a new dependency (to load
url/hyperrref/something) on the document, though maybe that is not a big
deal. Or maybe use a new macro, \btxurl, whose definition is output by
bibtex itself? That doesn't sound right.

A doi field is another glaring candidate. But there there isn't even a
commonly-available \doi command in the first place. So what to do? \btxdoi?

Maybe BibTeX could provide a core file bibtex.sty which is (implicitly?,
if available) loaded to define all such macros, probably mostly by
loading other packages? Sounds fraught with possible problems, but I
guess it's the most general solution.

Another idea is to add new entry types. That at least doesn't have the
same compatibility issues as fields, but maybe isn't that interesting, either.

Another "modern" idea is to support Unicode sorting, but having core
bibtex depend on ICU does not sound good, nor does reimplementing the
sorting algorithm. (And there is bibtexu for people who are gluttons for
such punishment.) People can already put UTF-8 characters in their .bib
files if they want to, I believe, and they just get output literally.

Overall, it somewhat seems to us that although bibtex has zillions of
limitations and deficiencies, they have already been worked around, one
way or another (e.g., using biblatex). So imposing fixes in the core
code may be a solution that's worse than a problem, meaning the best
thing to do is ... nothing. Which doesn't sound right either :).

Reactions, ideas? --thanks, karl.