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Sender: Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
From: Will Robertson <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Thu, 10 Nov 2005 17:22:52 +1030
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After some private discussion with Morten on some ideas that began on  
c.t.t., he thought it would be a good idea to actually not talk  
amongst ourselves (how conspiratorial) but rather, talk about them here.

First on the list: is it possible to get CVS read access to the  
LaTeX3 repository? I was thinking vaguely about looking things over  
and adding to the documentation (since, last I checked, it was rather  
sparse) as a good way to accustom myself to it all, but I'd prefer to  
not have to manually sync with your changes manually over the web  

(I'm a little wet behind the ears with regards to CVS, I'm afraid.)

Secondly, I asked how xor was going, since last I heard there was  
algorithm trouble with the way multicols balance with the existance  
of remaining floats. The reason I bring it up is 'cause the problem's  
been going around in my head recently, and I've got a few very half- 
baked ideas -- but it wouldn't be productive for me to do anything  
about them if that particular problem had already been solved.

Finally, somehow the topic of extensions to pdf-e-TeX came up, and  
there were some naive comments from me and some interesting comments  
from Morten. I proposed the idea of something like \previouschar,  
which we interpreted in two separate ways:

  - it "would return the slot number of the most recently seen char  
or ligature node independently of whether we just saw a glue node or  
another char/lig node; any other node type could reset it to  
-1" [morten]

  - it would actually be more like LaTeX's \@ifnextchar, and look at  
the input token list [me]

Implicit in my thinking was that you could also eat up previous chars  
in the same was as \unskip with a sort of fine-grained \lastbox; to  
which idea Morten replied:

   This is exactly what some languages need.

   Since there are so many different node types the only safe
   (IMO) way is to backtrack one node at a time so ideally we
   would want the pair \lastchar and \unchar. And then we might
   as well get one for each different node type. I guess someone
   has to come up with a good idea about what to do with \discretionary
   because I'm not at all sure what the semantics should be.

Obviously, he's thought it through a lot more thoroughly than I have.
(Ah, too many "th*ough"s!)

While it is true that this idea is required for some sort of TeX- 
level approach to typesetting for various languages, I was thinking  
about it from a more generic level; XeTeX has shown us that it might  
be a lot easier to leverage the work of other people for unicode and  
crazy font contortions than to re-invent the wheel again...

The *downside* of not re-inventing is that we're stuck with whatever  
we're given. For example, in XeTeX's case, obscure multilingual  
typesetting is impossible for now because the shaping algorithm for  
OpenType fonts for most complex languages simply hasn't been done in  
the library he's using. And the alternative, AAT fonts that shape  
themselves, is an obscure Apple invention that never took off in the  
market for several reasons...

I guess that's all I have to say for the time being. Any answers,  
reactions or opinions?

Best regards,
Will Robertson