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LATEX-L  June 1997

LATEX-L June 1997

Subject:

Re: use of e-tex

From:

Frank Mittelbach <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 16 Jun 1997 22:04:32 +0200

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (132 lines)

Uwe Muench writes:

 > > i fear the answer is "mainly unused" and the reason is simply that
 > > that for most people there is no use for it (right now) as they are
 > > not programmers but users.
 >
 > I think, there are not many users right *now*. *But* there is the
 > TeX-Live-CD version2, on which will be an e-TeX (or the announcement
 > is a lie...) and the new version of teTeX (0.9) will have an
 > e-TeX. There are quite a large number of people following *and*
 > updating with this distribution.
 >
 > So I expect the number of people actually having e-TeX will be
 > significantly rising in the *near future*.

it will but we are still talking about a small number and too small
without any additional boost that also brings us into all the non-unix
worlds

 > We can't help people only using LaTeX209 nowadays, so I don't care if
 > they would or will switch...

maybe you don't but during the original switching time there were many
people publically stating that one better stays away from 2e and if
that becomes or is a critical mass then you lose.

this is why for formats like lolipop nobody ever wrote additional
modules, not because it is a bad product, far from it, but because it
didn't have the backing and that killed it, or say kept it unused
around.

 > [support of e-TeX by L2e-team]
 > > depends on what is the meaning of "support" here.
 > >
 > > if it means can one use LaTeX with e-tex and use any of the features
 > > then surely one can. if it means does LaTeX use any features of e-tex
 > > then surely no.
 >
 > But then, why did *you* (the L2e-team) ask for 256 \mark-register, not
 > only 16?

wrong argument. all our input e-tex is from questions by the e-tex
team to us what we consider missing functionality in TeX or from my
article about "E-TeX: guidelines for future TeX extensions" where i
outlined various deficiencies of the current TeX. i'm happy seeing
that being done and available, but what i also hope is seeing it
installed on a critical number of sites.

btw, i'm not even sure that we did ask that particular one, but we
certainly gave our input to features that are currently missing and
for which we had to produce horrible hacks to solve something or where
the current implementation would not always work in all situation
using normal TeX ...

 > That's silly: 'We don't waste our times for e-TeX-L2e-packages. So
 > there *is* no reason to switch. So noone switches. So we don't waste
 > our times for e-TeX-L2e-packages.'

hmm, silly?

i know that this is a devil's loop that i'm describing, but i also
outlined how i see breaking that loop. if you think it could be broken
by writing some wonderful package that make people use e-tex then i
suggest you try that path.

 > Sure, there must be two L2e-codes: the compatibility-code and the more
 > stable e-TeX-code for features available in both versions... And there
 > can be packages only working with e-TeX, because it is too difficult
 > (or impossible) in normal TeX (this mainly for future versions of
 > e-TeX).

and we do the same with an omga version of 2e and with packages that
are available in both and those that are available only in omega ...

do you see where you are leading to?

 > > in my opinion a combination of etex and omega (and pdf support)
 > > however could be the answer at least it seems to me a very good case.
 >
 > Ok, I will tell you the problem with Omega: Mr. Plaice told it: He
 > doesn't care for compatibility with TeX (at least, he didn't at
 > EuroTeX 95). So, that's a reason, why I never would *switch* to
 > Omega. But I will *switch* to e-TeX as soon as the TeX-Live-CD arrives
 > here (will be next week).

but you would ask us to produce a LaTeX that would result in
non-usability for the majority of the users?

there are some areas in TeX that are simply wrong and where
compatibility is something for the historian. if you only accept
something as being a successor to TeX that not only keeps its good
parts but also its bad parts then that will be a poor successor.

yes omega does not have a compatibility switch that can be set so that
it does behave like the original TeX but it does solve a large amount
of problems with TeX although only of a certain type. and what is the
problem with that? omega is more of an NTS system as e-tex is (which
did have different design goals) and there at least during initial
development compatibility is of no importance.

but don't mistake me here, if we (the TeX community, someone, combined
effort of all groups, or of some individuals) do produce such a fixed
version from which the various projects could then differenciate again
to seek further in direction of a perfect NTS, it would be helpful and
important to have a compatibility switch.

 but that is possible, so where is the problem?


 > > Phil has asked what features i miss that omega has. i'm not sure that
 > > this was a serious question (you should know what your competing
 > > successor is capable of, shouldn't you? :-) but in any case here are
 >
 > Successor? For a programm, which does not care for compatibility???

yes indeed for such a program, and you might not know but Don is very
much interested in the direction Omega has taken, although he will
probably never have any use for it (and neither has he for LaTeX)

and indeed why should a successor really be compatible?

 - because otherwise people (like you as you said) are not going to use it?
 - because you need to reproduce old documents with it?
   (eg and the LaTeX implementation for compatibility reintroduces all the 209
    bugs? indeed 2e does this for some, but is it really desirable?)
 - because ????

think about it; successor doesn't synonym to superset although that is
the current e-tex approach and probably a good marketing approach.

good night
frank

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