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LATEX-L  October 1997

LATEX-L October 1997

Subject:

Re: LaTeX journal and publisher macros

From:

Phillip Helbig <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Wed, 1 Oct 1997 17:06:56 GMT

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (135 lines)

> I strongly support the concept of extended standard markup,
> particularly for front matter. long overdue.

I hope that there is no one who doesn't support this.

> i have said it ad nauseam, and i say it again; i work for the worlds
> largest STM publisher, and i can assure you that *here*
>
>  - the great majority of MSS are not in LaTeX

At least in astronomy, and probably in many fields of physics as well,
most manuscripts are written in LaTeX.  Most scientific writing (meaning
writing by scientists here) is for journals, not books.  And most
journals accept/encourage LaTeX (though often 2.09 and NOT 2e).  As far
as recycling goes, things such as theses, annual reports, popular
articles etc are also written, usually in LaTeX, and thus compatibility
between journal macros and up-to-date LaTeX is essential.

>  - LaTeX is not used internally for CRC except in special circumstances

I'm mainly concerned with making the authors' lives easier---what the
publisher does with the manuscript is not my concern here.

> though that should not discourage you. in addition, i don't know of any
> publishing house which, if pressed, would not claim that SGML was
> their long-term data storage format, not LaTeX

Again, the long-term data storage format of most AUTHORS is LaTeX.

> hear, hear. natbib/custom-bib are awesome contributions to the LaTeX
> world

Amen.

>  > On a related topic, although most journals and publishers don't simply
>  > `print the PostScript file' but rather produce camera-ready copy,
> we cannot be unusual in having a very high emphasis these days on
> getting an electronic form of the article, in a portable form, ie
> SGML. dont talk to me about latex2html.... what gets printed is a side
> issue, sometimes

Print is becoming less important, but I (and many others; witness the
massive protest on the part of the astronomical community about a year
ago, which led to Astronomy and Astrophysics abandoning their half-baked
electronic publication scheme) strongly feel that as long as paper
journals exist, electronic versions should be essentially identical.  In
some cases extra information which is available only electronically is
justified, but essentially one wants (today) an electronic version of a
paper as opposed to a paper version of an electronic document.  What the
relation of electronic publishing, as opposed to electronic preparation
of paper documents, to this is---that's a different (though related)
issue.

> some of you concerns should be taken up with the *editor*, not the
> *publisher*.

Right---bad choice of terms.

> i think you are promoting (rightly) use of email as the
> *only* submission medium, for fast and efficient turnaround, and thats
> before it gets to the publisher (depending on the journal).

A separate issue really, but I'm happy to promote it.  There really
should be no need for submitting stuff on diskette.

> how many PostSCript files from random authors have you processed?
> clearly your success rate is considerably higher than mine!

As a matter of fact, my last problems in this area were yesterday.
However, the solution is more pressure on the authors, not a return to
the stone age.  With the electronic preprint servers, for example, the
standard procedure is now to submit a TeX file and PostScript files to
be included (which has now been standardised pretty much) and if it is
not possible to create proper output, the submission is rejected.  This
is even done automatically, as far as I know; surely something similar
could be used to force authors to submit only standard-conforming stuff.
There ARE standards and they should be strictly adhered to.

> *please* dont suggest PostScript. its inventors, Adobe, have invested
> their authority and considerable research into the next generation
> language, PDF, who advantages so much outweigh the problems (in our
> world) that it seems (to me) madness not to espouse it. especially
> since we have a TeX that writes PDF directly.

I'm thinking more of PostScript files of plots and things written by
FORTRAN programmes:)  Maybe for entire documents PDF is the way to go.
However, first things first and PLEASE let's have LaTeX2e before PDF!

> you  central argument (better
> standardised markup) is close to my own heart. both Michael Downes and
> David Carlisle (key `They' people) have got proposals on the back-boiler
> which they should be encouraged (funded?) to refine.

The purpose of this action is to build up some enthusiasm for widespread
support.  Pressure the journals into hiring these guys as consultants!!!

> as the maintainer
> (I think, i am never sure) of the Elsevier preprint styles, I'll
> pledge my cooperation where possible.

Happy to hear it!

> but i think you are whistling down the wind if you imagine the use of
> LaTeX will have a massive expansion due to standardisation. the powers
> of Bill Gates and XML are too strong, in my personal view.[1]
> [1] ie, please dont shout at me. its a personal feeling.

Certainly no reason to shout at you; perhaps to join you in crying.  I
don't hope for a massive LaTeX expansion due to standardisation (though
both expansion and standardisation would be nice), but it would be nice
to solve the problems I mentioned for those already using it, and at
least not scare away potential traditional users, like physics students.

As far as Bill Gates goes, I'm completely microsoft (and intel) free.
I'm even completely unix-free, doing EVERYTHING on VMS (never worse and
often better than my unix counterparts)---Fortran and other languages,
LaTeX, www browser, www server, usenet news, email,...not to mention a
nice operating system:)  People talk and talk about how sad it is that
microsoft is dominating the market, in my view the domination itself is
not bad but rather domination by inferior products and (perhaps) unfair
competition.  However, there is a simple solution: buy yourself another
platform and let everyone know how much better off you are.  Too often
such things become self-fulfilling prophecies, with people migrating
just because everyone else is, or everyone else might, even though they
themselves have no reason to do so.


--
Phillip Helbig                          Email ... [log in to unmask]
Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratories   Tel. ..... +44 1477 571 321 (ext. 297)
Jodrell Bank                            Fax ................. +44 1477 571 618
Macclesfield                            Telex ................. 36149 JODREL G
UK-Cheshire SK11 9DL                    Web .... http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/~pjh/

My opinions are not necessarily those of NRAL or the University of Manchester.

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