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Will Robertson <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 23 Feb 2009 23:29:45 +1030
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Hi David,

On 23/02/2009, at 10:04 PM, David Kastrup wrote:

> Having a Lua programming interface where the control logic is mostly
> written in Lua, controlling the execution of LaTeX stuff more or  
> less at
> the class complexity level, will do quite a bit for more people  
> working
> on LaTeX.

I totally agree; and I think this will happen whether the LaTeX team  
does anything about LaTeX3 or not. We've never talked about what  
engines that we want to base LaTeX3 upon, and as far as I can see  
that's because it's too early to say. Will LuaTeX completely replace  
pdfTeX in TeXLive within the next few years? (I'd say probably, but do  
we know for sure?)

Joseph has repeatedly expressed his own opinion that we will support  
LuaTeX in time, and I see no reason that this won't end up happening.

Furthermore, LaTeX2e+LuaTeX still has the same problems as LaTeX2e --  
frozen development, by design, and frozen class functionality. Either  
someone else writes a LaTeX successor or "you"/we do. (I hesitate to  
include myself in this because I'm clearly much less qualified to be a  
member of this group.) The point I was trying to make originally is  
that I consider current work on expl3 to be the precursor to working  
on "LaTeX3", whatever that happens to be.

And whether some feel more comfortable writing more TeX-like code or  
more Lua code shouldn't distract from the fact that a lot of thought  
has gone into how LaTeX could be improved and I hope, dearly, that  
something comes from that. Stumbling along loading package after  
package after package on top of LaTeX2e isn't sustainable in the long  
run, I think. Surely we have to make a clean break at some stage?

I have no doubt that Lua is great, but I see LaTeX3 as more than a  
programming problem -- design of the user interface and what  
functionality should exist within it is just as important or more so.

Of the LaTeX Team members that are not involved with expl3, I am very  
interested what you think of the possibility of LaTeX3. If it's  
possible, or if it will never catch on, or if LaTeX2e is all we need,  
if LaTeX3 will work if we drop expl3 and use Lua, ... ?

> If the proposed microkernel would default to hook into Lua as its
> algorithmic interface and we can get Taco and Jonathan to converge  
> to a
> common functionality subset that we can base this on, I think that the
> benefits could be worth the decision to ditch all other engines.

Well, if LuaTeX plus some glue code becomes powerful enough, I see  
little reason to continue even with XeTeX. I'm just not sure what's  
going to happen :)

> Who of those on the team have already taken a look at Lua as  
> programming
> language?  It is really quite minimalistic and at the same time  
> powerful
> and expressive.

For me, no --- only so much time in the day, and all, but do you have  
any recommendations about where to get started? For example, how  
about: <> ?