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Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 9 Jul 2003 19:24:47 +0200
Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
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Joachim Schrod <[log in to unmask]>
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>>>>> "TM" == Timothy Murphy <[log in to unmask]> writes:
TM> On Tuesday 08 July 2003 18:33, Joachim Schrod wrote:

>> In particular, the macro language is not only dreadful, but may be
>> called "the most horrible macro language after the C preprocessor"
>> with full rights.

TM> I don't agree about TeX.
TM> It seems to me that when someone invents a language like TeX
TM> they can't really know how it is going to develop --

Well, DEK is active in formal languages since before FORTRAN
(actually, he defined large parts of that field), so he knew what he
did back in the late seventies. I talked personally about that topic
with him, so I'm very sure that he agrees with me. He simply didn't
imagine what programming tasks one wants to do within a typesetter and
thus chose a very simplified and easy to implement programming model.

TM> I suspect you want a language like Pascal --

Heaven forbid. An imperative teaching language from the 70s won't
bring us any substantial steps further.

IMO we need typesetting specifications that are (1) declarative, (2)
extensible (to add new attributes/verbs/primitives to the
specification language), (3) modular, e.g., support for interfaces and
encapsulation, (4) support polymorphism -- and thus inheritance (maybe
object-based, not class-based), (5) has a full-blown exception model.
Aspects support and a good macro system (like the one in Scheme or in
Common Lisp) would be plus points, too.

TM> it's obvious that the LaTeX team want this,
TM> since their starting point (I don't know if this goes back to Lamport)
TM> seems to be the translation of TeX into a Pascal-like language,
TM> with the definition of  loop macros, etc.

I don't know where you get this impression from. There ain't no loop
construct in Pascal. An iteration is a basic (though not fundamental)
control constructs and pops up in almost all practical programming
languages over time. In fact, \loop is implemented in plain TeX, by

Once, there were pseudo-Algol or pseudo-Pascal comments in the code.
But the LaTeX team has replaced more and more of them over the last
few years; in their implementation you won't find that stuff any more.
So it seems to me that you're barking up the wrong tree here.


Joachim Schrod                                  Email: [log in to unmask]
Roedermark, Germany

        ``How do we persuade new users that spreading fonts across the page
        like peanut butter across hot toast is not necessarily the route to
        typographic excellence?''                       -- Peter Flynn