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LATEX-L  June 1998

LATEX-L June 1998

Subject:

Re: l3 function names

From:

Javier Bezos <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Sat, 27 Jun 1998 14:36:57 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (162 lines)

Hello

The Frank's letter clarifies me many things.

>and typing with a
>small child on my lap is ...)

I presume a lot harder than with a cat :-)

>first of all the basic commands are unchanged availabale all starting
>\tex_... (with the idea that perhaps \etex_... or \pdftex_... thingies
>exist one day.

In this case using \tex_ makes sense, but I presume that tex, etex,
pdftex... names will not overlap. For this reason I think removing
the "tex" is not a serious problem and this way we avoid the
cluttering with "tex"s.

There is also the :D convention which suggest that many TeX parameters
are functions; eg \uchyph or \parindent. If this notation is to be used
in all or none of primitives, I think is preferable in none, because
they will not follow neither the function nor the parameter syntax,
ie they stand apart.

>if the bootstrap of something like L3PL is short and painless you
>could start from learning the language itself and nothing else.  it
>does clearly keep the primitives that should be enough. in other words
>i think this is more something for old programmers like you and me
>being a *short-term* problem but that should'nt guide us.

I'm not convinced. I think that that will make LaTeX a closed world
without
exchanging ideas and macros with other TeX formats. I'm thinking of EDMAC,
ArabTeX or MusicTeX for instance.

> > \let:NN{\arg1}{\arg2} is particularly amusing because the first N is
> > \arg1 and the second one is { with an unmatched brace.
>
>indeed. but then you could argue, garbage in garbage out, ie as this
>isn't correct input output might be anything. but i know if i argue
>this way then you give me
>
>\let:NN{\arg2
>
>which should then work but doesn't either. so????

Of course it does not work because { is not active. The point here is that
the opening brace sometimes is ignored, sometimes is not; the closing
brace sometimes will be read, sometimes will give an error.

> > If specifiers rules are not very, very, very clear it could be interpreted
> > in a wide variety of ways by developpers, making the code even more
> > unintelligible. I've devised some other specifier schemes but
> > inconsistencies
> > seems reluctant to disappear (except if a score of specifiers are used).
>
>not sure i understand that sentence. did you mean you found it hard to
>find something that works better without running into different
>problems?  (that's what we found)

Yes, you are right. (English is not my strong point and
perhaps I didn't explain myself correctly.) I also mean that if someone
interprets the specifiers in a wrong way he could give a misleading name.
For example, n instead of N (in fact I've made this mistake when writing
some macros. I realized my error when trying to devise other specifier
schemes) or argumentless function instead of parameter.

>we would certainly welcome suggestions---this is a working draft and
>as we say by no means anything that is present as the best and final
>thoughts on the subject, though it is true that we have put a lot of
>thoughts into it and thrown away many (worse) attempts.

Obviously, I cannot try for a complete spec scheme in just
a few days, but for example this is the best idea I had
(so far and by far)
spec  arg forms              meaning
~~~~  ~~~~~~~~~              ~~~~~~~~
u     \cmd                   unexpanded/unbraced token
n     \cmd  {\cmd}           token name
c     \cmd  {\cmd1\cmd2...}  container; the contents will be passed as
argument
  [\expandafter{\cmd}]
l     \cmd  {\cmd1\cmd2...}  token list
x     \cmd  {\cmd1\cmd2...}  expanded token list

n and c have the "string" variants N [\expandafter{\csname str\endcsname}]
and C [\expandafter\expandafter\expandafter{\csname str\endcsname}].
Perhaps also:
S     string containter in string form
  [\expandafter\expandafter\expandafter
          {\expandafter\csname\csname str\endcsname\endcsname}]
An hypothetical no string form (s) is equivalent to N; there is
also p, t, f, w. I was looking for some symmetry in the meaning
of uppercase letters; here uppercase means "string form".

So we have for instance \let:uwu \let:nu \let:Nu \let:nN \let:NN
\exp_after:uu \def:upl \def:upx \def:Npl \def:Npx.
As you can see nothing new, except the letters used and the u spec.

A further spec is to be used with \exp_args:
d   \cmd  {\cmd}     dormant; usually n but it will not be expanded
                     in protected expansions.
Its definition could be something like:
  \def\:::#1{\exp_not:N#1}
  \def\::d#1\:::#2#3{#1\:::{#2\exp_not:N#3}}
with the corresponding tests to see if the protection is enabled.
The string variant (D) can lead to confusion. For example
   \exp_args:nd\def:npl\cmd{...}
is right, but
   \exp_args:nD\def:Npl{str}{...}
expands to \def:Npl\str, which is wrong. If the modifiers + basics
scheme is used this problem does not exist: \exp_args_d\def\cmd and
\exp_args_D\def{str}. These ideas should be thought out if they seem
interesting.

Actually, the problem is always present if diferent variants of
\exp_args and command specs are mixed: \exp_args:Noox\cmd:nNxn...
What? :-) )

The answer of exercise 9.8 from the TeXbook is to the point. Why \'#1
and not simply \'? "An argument makes the use of \' more consistent with
the use of other accents like \d." This idea may be applied to the
\def: functions. So \def:Npn #1{\tex_def:D #1} instead
of \let:NN\def:Npn\tex_def:D. In the notation above that gives
\def:npl \def:npx \def:Npl \def:Npx.

>well, my experience is that having the number of arguments clearly
>attached to a command makes things much more readable than not having
>it (ie \seq_test_in:nn compared to \seq_test_in) --- after getting
>used to it this was a very helpful feature in reading code by others.

If you want to understand a function you must read its definition,
and then you see its arguments, making the specs a bit redundant.
And when I see things like \titlesec_sect:nnnnnnnn I am horrified.
Up to now I have not get used to it. Perhaps in a few years... ;-)

>as for the _ not being available as an explicit subscript:
>
>we don't consider this significant as we think that this should be
>done this way anyway. the few places where you really need a subscript
>in a macro you can as well use some slightly more complicated way (in
>plain TeX this would be \sb)

\sb is not an explicit subscript char. I cannot say, for instance
\def:Npn \get_token:n #1{
 \if:w \str_eq_p:nn {#1} {\sb} etc
to test if the token is _.
I presume that the \lccode / \lowercase trick will be necessary.
(Or thinking in terms of the new syntax (expandable version):
  \if:w \exp_args:No \str_eq_p:nn {\sb_char} {#1}... where \sb_char
contains an actual subscript char. But I find clearer
  \if \exp_args_o \str_eq_p {\sb_char} {#1}...)

(Actually, \str_eq_p is great. I've had using for years the
\if\test device in my own TeX macros. I think it's one of the most
interesting aditions, besides the l3expand module and the fint type.)

>thanks for all the comments        (hope to get more)
You are welcome... and l3 as well   (no doubt)

Ragards
Javier

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