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Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Frank Mittelbach <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 13 Feb 1997 21:41:18 +0100
Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (79 lines)
Hans Aberg writes:
 >   Therefore, I think that a discussion that centers around a few standard
 > formats only is not very helpful. Several of the standard formats, like the

well but that is exactly what i'm trying to say. I don't intend to
produce hard coded standards but to develop an interface for
specifying language-dependent information. TO DO SO i first want to
have a close look at the problem area rather then starting from the
interface side. up to now things have been developed by looking only
at individual problems developing individual solutions and putting
software layer over software layer.

 > Duden German grammatical rules I think, were created by collecting some
 > general practise rules, and simply, rather brutally, make a selection from
 > that. This way, one can create beautiful standards, but the problem is that
 > today, our world is too complex for this to work.

yes and no. i really don't think that i want to go into the
philosphical discussion on whether standards are useful, helpful,
rubbish, ...

the world is complex but most users still like it simple and if it
isn't simple then many of them use what they get automatically (for
that reason you have a de facto standard of latex's report class which
you can find in many books because people didn't bother to change
anything other than the the bare minimum they had to) --- let's hope
that this is just because it is so difficult to do otherwise and not
because nobody cared.

same goes for documents produced in, say, MS-word: how many users do
you think do bother doing something about the hyphenation this program
produces (other then turning it off comepletely)? not many.

so again: what i'm asking for is about items the user might want to or
have to change because the document is written in a certain language.
what are these items? which one haven't been covered so far in the

or to approach the topic differently:

 - what needs to be "settable" no matter how for the moment if a
   document is written completely in language foo (note that i don't
   say anything about settable to a single value)

 - what would you like to be able to set (again not how at the moment)
   if the document is set in language foo but some parts, say chapters
   are in languages bar and some in baz

 - what needs to be adjusted when individual phrases or other small
   items are set in a language different from the surrounding

do we get any further looking at the topic this way?

and again: any interface that might be developed will ultimatively
result in the ability to produce "defaults" that can be used; but this
is not the purpose of the exercise. the purpose is to lay a foundation
to describe what needs to be covered by such an interface and once
there is an interface its purpose is to allow the user to easily
adjust (perhaps starting from a default) the settings to his or her

perhaps it is the case that babel covers all the issues (that can be
set in TeX) and the only problem with it is that its interface is not
sufficient flexible to allow for small or large modifications, but
then perhaps it isn't covering important cases.

certainly its interface is not of a kind that makes it easy to do any
modifications other than choosing one or the other "default" and
usually that means (for most users) there isn't much adjustable at

but before going into interface questions, what are the items related
to language? what are the answers to the above questions?

good night