Bernd Raichle <[log in to unmask]> writes:
> This was postponed for eTeX because (a) the implementation will be
> rather tricky for e.g., special nodes and in some contexts where the
> result of real arithmetic can be accessed (e.g., \accent
> constructions) which will lead to implementation dependend
> behaviour.
It is my opinion that all of Knuth's attempt to hide the result of
real arithmetic in TeX are just a source of pain, trouble and
quirkiness, and should stop being a design criterion. It also affects
the output of the trip test, making it systemdependent.
There are two approaches to get there: either just ignore the system
dependencies (PostScript more or less does that, I think, and has not
terribly suffered from it), or replace all occurences of real
arithmetic by fixedpoint arithmetic, and be done. There are change
files for that purpose already, if I remember correctly: it was shown
that this was feasible.
And indeed, given the rather limited amount of real arithmetic in TeX,
it should be much easier to make it realfree than its cousin Metafont
which managed this feat in spite of _much_ more involved calculations.
The inability to access set glue is a _major_ roadblock for quite a
few applications.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum
