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Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Frank Mittelbach <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 13 Apr 1997 23:45:40 +0200
Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
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Hans Aberg writes:
 >   To summarize, this math fonts discussion seems to follow several lines:
 > 1. Discussions about glyphs, old and new, and how to classify them, and
 > bring them to proper use.
 > 2. Creating a new math fonts encoding for the LaTeX3 project, and
 > otherwise, for the purpose of enabling new mathfonts packages to be
 > developed.
 > 3. Discussions about math fonts packages, and which of them should be a
 > part of the LaTeX3 distribution, and which should be independent packages.
 >   These topics clearly interact in an intricate manner.
 >   Frank Mittelbach says something to the effect that 1 does not really fit
 > into the objectives of the LaTeX3 project, and if 2 should be changed, it
 > is rather to pick something out, rather than adding, because of the
 > requirements of 100% upwards compatibility, and some other technical
 > concerns.

this is actually not a summary of what i (tried to say)/said so let me
add to this a little bit.

concerning 1) identifying additional glyphs (new and old) that might
be needed is certainly something that fits into the objectives of the
LaTeX3 project; what you are mixing up here (or what i have explained
badly) is my plea for separating a base standard for TeX with these
additional requirements (see also 2)

concerning 2) i said that i don't see much point in restarting a
discussion about a base standard without actually trying it out
first. After all this draft was development by people like Joerg
Knappen, Alan Jeffrey, Michael Downes, and many others that do know a
lot about a) mathematics and related fields b) fonts and c)
limitations of TeX and which did carefully look add various
conflicting requirements before that proposal was finally drafted.

in addition there is the point that a the proposal is supposed to be a
common base standard on two levels (just like the current \fam 0-3
form a de facto base standard and the ams extension do form an extended
set) this does not mean that different application packages or
additional semi standard encodings are not helpful or not of interest
to LaTeX3. but a base standard has to play a kind of different role
then the extensions do.

one important aspect is exchangeability. this means you do want to
have a standard which allows you on various levels to use other fonts
then just cm/+mf extensions. as nice and important as it is to have
all kind of additional symbols that allows us TeX users to produce
wonderful typography and express math or chemistry etc perfectly you
will kill TeX very soon if you can't keep your user base. and for this
it is important to allow (for example) to typeset a large number of
documents in other fonts than special TeX fonts.

the draft standard was designed to allow this on two levels with a
smaller set of fonts and with an extended set of fonts and that works
only if you keep that core as clean as possible within an agreed basic
set and that is the reason why i said the base standard might more
likely need deletions rather than additions.

 >   Concerning 3, I personally feel that the combined LaTeX2e and AMS-fonts
 > are a little too restricted for conveniently writing math manuscripts,
 > especially when these are interdisciplinary. It would be good to settle for
 > some reasonable, well structured, extension of the current packages. Other,

the full draft goes quite a lot over the glyphs found in the base
fonts by knuth and the amsfonts, but again there is not much point in
thinking about a standard and filling it with glyphs if then the only
implementation you ever have for it will be a single cm/mf
solution. for that it is perfectly enough to just add/design whatever
glyphs you fancy and load them using some package into the current

 >   I will indicate two such possible extensions:
 >   Frank Mittlebach writes:
 > >we should get of the next hill and that is:
 > >
 > >  take the euler math fonts and implement them as well
 >   The discussions revealed that both the AMS-fonts Euler script and TeX
 > calligraphic are a little too restricted for actual math use, as they do

well, restricted or not this is right now what a few million papers do
use :-) anyway, if you look closely at the draft proposal (p33) then
you see that MSP contains a full upper and lowercase script/cal

what i was trying to say with the above sentence is that with Euler we
do have a more or less (in parts less) complete set of glyphs for the
basic core of the proposal (the commerical lucida would be a better
choice for testing, but then they are only available to a view
people). however even euler is an interesting case as it would reveal
if, say, MC MSP MX are euler can those be combined with other fonts
encoded MS1/2 and so on.

 >   So I am inclined to believe that the best way to handle this, is leaving
 > the Euler script and the TeX calligraphic, for upwards compatibility,
 > whereas designing two completely new, complete series, one less scripty,
 > and one more scripty, having both upper-case letters, and lower-case
 > letters, also coming in the bold/leaning/bold-leaning shapes.

sure and also one could and should also use those fonts that are
already around in that area and use them to produce some alternative
MSP or MS1/2 fonts and see how well these can be used together with
others and and and

but all this works only (and we do only see additional problems) if we
do take the proposal face value (for the moment) and get it to work,
rather than having all the discussions that preluded it once more
(including overlooking all type of different requirements and
restrictions with TeX and ... and then noticing them again ...) and
then stop again (perhaps with a slightly different proposal but) more
or less at the same point ie without anything to test and play with.

once we have gained that experience i think going back once more to
the drawing board might be fruitful

give those guys who had their hands in this proposal the benefit of
doubt that they do actually understand those three issues that i
enumerated above --- they do