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Robin Fairbairns <[log in to unmask]>
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Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 5 Jul 2003 23:47:02 +0100
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> 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!

because of the nature of tex, i'm afraid.

> 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.

about 5 years before tex was released, i wrote a small operating
system to support a larger project.  that operating system was used
for quite a while by people sitting at the teletype console; and in
that operating system, you had to know about the layout of the disc

which is not to boast that cambridge research students in those days
had lots of hair on their chests...  i want merely to point out that
tex was designed so long ago that its user interface, and the user
interfaces of packages built on it, are bound up with its internals in
a way that would be quite unacceptable today.

david is right: to make assertions about the way the user interface
"will be", you need to know whether your proposal is actually
practicable.  if any part of your proposal is not practicable, there's
a danger that everything you suggest will be ignored, however good
_some_ parts of it are.

the fact is, that many people complain about the restrictions that tex
places on our programming, but no-one is willing to throw out the
basis of the "programming model" of tex -- rebuilding tex from scratch
is just too much of a job.