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Hans Aberg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 27 Nov 1998 12:54:55 +0100
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At 08:54 +1000 1998/11/27, Ken Smith wrote:
>I have managed to get (nearly) everybody to use \newcommand instead of
>\def, but even then some publishers packages can do funny things.
>The latest was a staff member putting a book together.
>He had used \newtheorem{example]{Example}[section]
>and got a most obscure error message.
>I tracked it down to part of the publisher's class file, which also
>defined an "example" environment.

Of course, such problems can be solved by the use of modules, which either
separates the names so that they do not clash or reports such clashes when
they do occur.

In the example above, either \newtheorem defines a new entity
environment/example, and if it already exists it reports an error, or it
defines an entity theorem/example, or environment/theorem/example which
enables one to switch between different examples environments within the
same paper, by locally adding the proper name extension (theorem/ or

It is another question whether this implements well in TeX.

>But even if we eventually get away from TeX/LaTeX into something else,
>we will still have the problem of interactions between different macro
>(or whatever they may be called) definitions.

So this is in fact not true: There are techniques that can solve the
problems at hand, but these solutions may not be solvable or feasible
within TeX.

>And doing any sort of extensive writing in mathematics *without* some
>sort of macro facility is just too awful to contemplate.
>Has anyone ever tried to write something in *raw* TeX

Using raw TeX (with macros) is of course what many pure mathematicians did
and do because of the past problems with LaTeX.

But the point is that, sure, one needs something that is at least as
effective to the author as macros: I suggest something that has a capacity
similar to programs like Yacc and Lex. It is then possible to get a much
closer relationship between the written code and the mathematical notation,
while on the same time increasing the prospects for other tools handling
it. (The code is not then merely macro expanded, but parsed according to
well defined parsing rules, which is easier to deal with.)

>I wholeheartedly agree with the last two paragraphs.
>One problem with visual display is the very limited resolution,
>compared with the printed page.  This can be overcome, for small bits
>of a page, by zooming, but this gets horribly tedious even in xdvi
>And I am quite sure that a certain person in charge of a large company
>in USA would be rather unwilling to commit the required amount of
>money into adding a zoom facility to the internet viewer just to
>satisfy the wishes of a (relatively) small mathematics community.

Whereas the low computer screen resolution of today is a problem, it is
just a limitation of the screens of today and rather unrelated to the other
problems: If the code expands into a format such as PDF (or DVI, PS ..),
then the problems with zooming becomes independent of the programs (TeX,
LaTeX, YAML etc), that produces the typesetting description. In addition,
screen resolution is increasing, although very slowly: They used to have
about 75 dots/inch, but these days they are likely to have something closer
to 100 dots/inch. Eventually one will see screen with typesetting
resolution of 1200 dots/inch, even though that seems far away the things
look right now.

  Hans Aberg
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