Sebastian Rahtz wrote:
> in my personal view, no current authoring tools except LaTeX are of
> any real use (except to capture plain text); and unfortunately, LaTeX
> is almost totally discredited by the poor usage of its
> 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:
- 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
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.
- The biggest mess of all is the front matter. I remember this has
been discussed before on this list. Did anything ever result from
I guess a solution could be found within LaTeX2e and shipped as
with future updates. This certainly very nontrivial exercise should
at the very least achieve the following:
o Define a comprehensive interface (key-val syntax???) for all
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
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)
I.e., we need the definitive reference "LaTeX for Authors", preferably
written by someone who understands the publishing process in all
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?