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Robin Fairbairns <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 5 Jul 1997 15:48:54 +0100
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> > I'm readily capable of giving opinions on many packages I've used, but
> > I'm not about to give away my (often private) documents that
> > constitute the only tests I've made of them.
> OK, so when you send a bug report to an author, you just say "I found
> that your package xyz does not work"? Not very useful.

Good point.  However, a bug report (certain rather limited
circumstances excepted) doesn't get published for all to see.  As a
package author, I wouldn't want the entire repertoire of
`recommendation' for my packages to be the contents of the bug reports

> If you call your "document that uses it" a test file, after having
> stripped off indications about your religious beliefs, personal
> address, name of your pets, and other facts that make it an (often
> private) document, that would  be perfect for me. An opinion would go
> to /dev/null as I have no way to check it and make an opinion myself.

We have to agree to differ here.  I regularly accept people's opinions
of things as the first step in my path to deciding what to do myself.

Oh, and by the way, I actually _publish_ the name of my pet.  On the

> > I really do not believe that an exercise to produce test suites/demo
> > programs for packages is effort well spent.
> If you care only about experts, such as Robin Fairbairns or
> Sebastian Rahtz, I agree it is certainly useless.

I don't think I implied it was useless.  I merely implied that an
attempt to acquire, verify, and publish a comprehensive set was
doomed.  I believe attempting to acquire a set of informed opinions of
the available packages is a demanding enough task...

> But if you care also about newcomers to TeX and average users,
> I really do believe that an exercise to produce test suites/demo
> programs for packages is effort well spent. I have included several
> demo files in AsTeX distribution, and it seems to be very much
> appreciated by users.

If you carefully limit the task you're undertaking, you can always
achieve what you're after.  I don't have the AsTeX distribution
(though I do have the manual you kindly sent me), but I would assume
you "included what you could do".

> And look at Microsoft programming languages,

I would far rather not...

> such as Visual C++ or Visual Basic: each instruction and procedure
> (which are the equivalent of macros and packages) comes with several
> examples that you can cut and paste into your document. If users did
> not like that, do you think Microsoft would have spent a cent to do
> such work?

I don't think we're looking at an issue of what we get for our money's
worth, since we don't have any money, to speak of.  Money means
different things to different people: if you're running a commercial
mega-empire, money is the means to attract more money, but if you're
running a tiny non-profit organisation you get to have a personal feel
about every penny/centime of it.  I don't have a lot of experience of
the mega-empire world, but I know I feel very differently about UK
TUG's money than I used to about the money of the small firm which

If we can get a useful set of demo programs together, all well and
good, but I would be surprised if we did.  I'll settle for a
coordinated set of opinions.  I think I've argued long enough about
this one (probably too long): all I want is a little pragmatism about
what is achievable.  I shall shut up now.

Robin F