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Re: LaTeX3 goals (was Re: ideal future document processing

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Sat, 21 Jun 1997 13:06:59 -0600

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 Frank Mittelbach writes: >i think to a large extend i hope to be able to reassure you. If you >look at the goals of the latex3 project as outlined in ltx3info.tex >you will find that it is very much concerned in serving the authors >--- as well as the professionals. I think that it is important to remember that there are also whole communities for which TeX (and LaTeX, in particular) changed the way in which people are working over new results. No, no publish, no writing final version of papers, but work - make notes, rewrite them many times, exchange them, etc. - especially when co-workers in geographically dispersed places are involved. When I have seen Sebastians question why some SGML markup is less editable than '\frac{a}{b}' I thought in the first moment "this guy is joking or inhales too deeply who knows what". Only later I realized that he sees only the final stages of a science paper production so he can afford to be stuck in some fixed environment where he may have some specific editor making some hair-raising markup workable. In "other reality" a very important aspect of LaTeX is that you are sending the whole text, or pieces of it, far away and you do not even bother to ask what your respondent happens to run, on what, and which particular piece of an editing software s/he has and likes/dislikes. In e-mail exchanges I have seen many times inserted pieces of "pseudo-TeX" and it was quite obvious to senders that they will be understood. You only swear from time to time when some conference organizers decided to be "kind" and, instead of an original TeX, they are sending you a piece of Postscript, (or even worse - PDF) which likely has a wrong resolution, wrong printer mode, possibly fonts which you do not have on hand, and it does not fit on your paper as your printer is using sheets of a different size. Even this can be survived and your co-workers are usually smarter than that. :-) A similar thing can be observed with Math Department secretataries. If they happen to type some piece of mathematics (it does not happen too often nowadays) they type it once - so they are really happy with something like Scientific World. In a "working scientist" situation this usually does not cut. I realize that catering to such disparate needs is not an easy task but if further developments would loose from sight needs of those "consumers of TeX" then they risk that they will be totally ignored. This group is not likely to return to exchanging of long-hand notes or mimeographed sheets with all symbols inserted by hand (and ensuing "fun" of decrypting what was really meant in some particular place).   Michal