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Martin Hensel <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 5 Jul 2003 23:24:02 +0100
text/plain (108 lines)

> There is a large variety of tools and material available about LaTeX
> that it makes little sense to cast away for mostly cosmetical
> reasons.

Yes, my changes are only cosmetical. This is because I did not want to
make people learn a completely new language. They spent a lot of time
learning the names of their commands. Why should we change the
commands? It is possible that LaTeX3 supports several user interfaces.
I think they should rely on the same commands.

My suggestion was only ment to make a suggestion for a better user
interface. I think there could be some improvements in the LaTeX
commands. An example with the title command is mentioned in my
document. Furthermore, there could be a command that combines the
functionality of the standard lists, paralistf and mdwlist, for
instance. But my document was concerned with a new syntax. The title
states this, doesn't it? What did you expect?

I know that programmers often don't see the need for such
"cosmetics". Nevertheless it is very important. Please read an
introduction of your choice about usability!
Why do think are some online shops are more successful than other,
slightly cheaper ones? If only functionality would count, why would
not shop at an online shop that uses a command line interface? Why
would a shop not work where people had to remember the article number
and enter it?

> There are some XML DTDs that do something similar to what you seem
> to want to do, maybe they will suit whatever application you had in
> mind.

My "application" is an attempt to make LaTeX more usable in order to
make it more popular.

The intoduction of intuitive graphical user interfaces was a very
important step for Linux, for instance. It was not necessary for a
programmer, it was necessary for the users who found this easier to
use. It was only cosmetical, but brought Linux forward a great step.

Of course, a programmer may say (Reinhard Kotucha)
| The way spaces after commands are treated follows a simple rule.
| This rule is so simple that it makes no sense to give it up.
But I doubt that new users will agree.

I am very sure that there are many people that take a short look at a
LaTeX introduction (or that got a short introduction by somebody) that
were confused by the different space handling in
  \LaTeX is good.
  \LaTeX\ is good.
  This is \LaTeX.
  This is \LaTeX2e.
The rule may be relatively simple, but it could be even simpler. If
spaces after commands are always treated the same as suggested.

Havn't you ever seen new LaTeX users making mistakes with the spacing
or things like
  This is \large{large} while this is \emph{emphasised}

My aim was to make LaTeX more consistent in order to make it easier
to learn in order to make it more popular.

> Anyhow, there is little sense in calling anything "LaTeX" which
> looks entirely different.

Why did somebody intend to support different user interaces in LaTeX3
then? You could use the old one if you like. Why does it make sense to
call an Operating System still OS although the user interface can look
completely different?

> In particular, I fail to see a good reason to cook up an
> arbitrary syntax that is neither LaTeX nor XML, when XML would
> probably fit your goals perfectly.

I think XML may be useful in some automated applications, but it is
not the first choice for text input by hand. Tell me, why would
someone prefer to type
  A & B & C \\
would do it as well?

Lastly, I want to state my amazement about David's initial question
> Do you actually know the internals of TeX?

Why should I? I suggested a user interface! The user should not be
required to know the internals of TeX in order to be able to use
LaTeX3! If I want to save a file, I'm happy that I do not have to know
the internals of the file system, how my OS links files, where it
stores its TOC, what access mode it uses, what algoriths it uses to
control the HD arms, how it keeps track of the free disk space and so
on. I am especially thankful that saving a file works just the same
way if I save on floppy disk or a network.

The LaTeX users need a consistent interface. I am sure that this will
make LaTeX more successful. My draft was a suggestion how to do so
while keep established concepts.
If you stick to the principle "It worked in the past, why change it?"
LaTeX will never spread. If you don't care about the diffuculty of the
syntax, LaTeX will never be used by other people than programmers.