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Phillip Helbig <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 9 Nov 1998 12:27:22 GMT
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> > practitioners. yes yes yes there are millions of great LaTeX users out
> > there, but what actually hits the system here is almost always
> > diseased in some way.
> This seems to be a much more down-to-earth problem, and much easier to
> solve (maybe at least partially in future releases of LaTeX2e) than the
> lofty goals of LaTeX3.


> My basic claim is that base LaTeX is too narrowly defined, and therefore
> causes a lot of the document exchange problems which seem to occur
> frequently not only between author and publisher, but also between
> different authors.  In particular:

I agree.

> - The set of tools which come with the core LaTeX distribution is too
>   small for serious work.  Extensions exist (such as the quasi-standard
>   AMS math package), but are not sufficiently promoted by third parties
>   (some publishers' author packages re-implement subsets of amsmath in
>   incompatible ways).


>   Solution: Move the best-of-breed third-party packages into the
>   LaTeX core distribution.  For mathematical publishing the choice
>   seems to be rather obvious, in Physics, as I understand, things are
>   much more in a mess (ReVTeX...) and may need serious revision.
>   In other subject areas I don't really know, but this could and should
>   be sorted out.

For astronomy, it's also a mess.

I would really like to see things like Daly's bibliography packages
moved into the core distribution.  It would look nicer if this were the
case before requiring all publishers to force authors to use natbib (and
a .bst they've generated from custom-bib:).

> - The biggest mess of all is the front matter.  I remember this has
>   been discussed before on this list.  Did anything ever result from
>   that discussion?

Yes, we should get back to that and away from the loftier stuff!

>   o Define a comprehensive interface (key-val syntax???) for all
> marginally
>     common frontmatter features.
>   o Specify a way in which individual publishers are allowed to extend
>     the standard if necessary.
>   o Provide backwards-compatibility to common existing front-matter
>     conventions (default, AMS, Elsevier, possibly others), if necessary,
>     as package options.
>   o Be interfaced in such a way that the standard document classes
>     can be easily retrofitted with the new conventions.  (Package
>     which can be loaded on top of these classes, or, better, as a
> package
>     option.  Personally, I would prefer if such new conventions could
>     be made the default - I know the issue about the standard classes
>     being frozen - if a reasonable auto-detect of the new features
>     is possible without breaking existing documents.)
>   o Some nice front page defaults for "report" and "book" which could
>     save authors in may cases from hacking with \titlepage.
> - Lack of a good single source of documentation.  There is not a good
>   book on how to author documents in LaTeX.  Lamport's book is not
>   inclusive enough; the Companion, or Kopka-Daly, are pretty good if it
>   comes to solving concrete problems, but don't offer much guidance for
>   how to write documents that are intended for submission to publishers,
>   or require easy exchange in loosely organized (academic)
> collaborations.
>   I.e., we need the definitive reference "LaTeX for Authors", preferably
>   written by someone who understands the publishing process in all
> stages,
>   and specifically documenting the "official", "definitive" solutions
>   to the first two problems above.
>   A regular update schedule would not hurt, so maybe every new LaTeX
>   could be shipped as full distribution (TeX Live...) on CD together
>   with this printed or electronic manual?
> Am I dreaming here?

Hopefully not!

Phillip Helbig                          Email ......... [log in to unmask]
Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratories   Tel. .... +44 1477 571 321 (ext. 297)
Jodrell Bank                            Fax ................ +44 1477 571 618
Macclesfield                            Telex ................ 36149 JODREL G
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