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LATEX-L  November 1998

LATEX-L November 1998

Subject:

Re: What is "base" LaTeX

From:

Roozbeh Pournader <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

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

Date:

Fri, 27 Nov 1998 13:46:46 +0330

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (120 lines)

Marcel Oliver wrote:

> In many cases the core functionality of LaTeX is either
> broken (equarray) or insufficient (theorems), so that the extension
> packages are needed for basically ANY work in the field. Thus, the
> basic LaTeX provisions should be removed from all documentation
> (personally I also think that stuff like equarray should produce a
> warning "You are using a broken command").

I agree very much. Authors are continuing using eqnarray and friends
for their works, since Lamport say's it's ok. Why not make it a little
better (by at least making the spaces right), and prevent them from
preparing ugly papers? This is also the case with some amsmath
users, because they look at amsmath only as a symbol-and-font-providing
package.

I think we should somehow forget about backward compatiblity for the
line/page breaks, (at least when LaTeX3 comes into existance), in favor
of great improvements.

If you look more exactly, this is the case: beginners use LaTeX's
facilities by default, and create ugly papers; experts use a lot of
packages and nag.

What about considering every core LaTeX feature and rethink
about moving them to tools or taking them from there? E.g., many agree
that picture should go there (since it's used less and less), and array
should come from there.

> Computer Science:  The math stuff probably applies here, too.  Some
> standardized mark-up for program listings?

Yes, yes. We really need it. I think a customizable
program/algorithm/etc. should be available in tools.

Sebastian Rahtz wrote:

> these days we'd have it retyped :-}
So what about authors' full control of line/page breaks? Forget it?

> cos the AMS use TeX to typeset. why dont Elsevier's typesetters?
What is the Elsevier's typesetting engine?

> oh, i agree. good LaTeX is very good. no argument.
And I can't forget the really good documentation in TeXLive CD
in many formats which I could not believe. It seems so
clean (well, except for some little cases) so that I thought it has
been prepared from scratch for each format... (don't believe :).

Chris Rowly wrote:

> Sebastian does seem a little less comprehensible than usual these
> days: maybe XML/XSL has this affect on people?

He made me study XML specifications carefully before any other message
to this list. But my viewpoint is different. It is good, and has a good
future, but it will be misused by Microsoft or other companies, and
come into non-portablity problems (just like HTML). I think LaTeX's
idea of non-profit developement has helped remaining somehow portable
(really?).

Hans Aberg wrote:
> LaTeX needs to be improved as a tool
> for scientific publishing in the absence of a good replacement.

OK, why not all accept this and concentrate on technical stuff?
Having sebastian's comments in mind, XML is taking the world,
so why shouldn't we support XML ideas as soon as possible? Why not
make LaTeX3 as robust, as simple, and as powerful as possible?
Even as a XML publishing engine, LaTeX has a good future,
and even if XML does not take the world, LaTeX is far from
perfect. I think we must discuss more exact problems (like
that frontmatter idea, table formatting problems, etc.).

Robin Fairbairns wrote:
> the reason i have got away with as much latex-ery as i have, over the
> years, is that it's been useful to have a repository of last resort of
> answers to people's questions around here.  i regularly get asked for
> help by people all over the department, occasionally by people in
> other parts of the university.  sometimes, latex is unavoidable;
Very important! I have a strong position in our department,
with almost a trivial reason. From time to time, someone needs
LaTeX support. Joking, don't believe :)

But I have seen that no academician cen resist not-using TeX, except those
who don't write.

> and latex isn't so well documented that everyone can trivially do every
> sensible thing they might want.

I am not sure. Sebastian says some authors even don't read Lamport.
It's true. They say: ``We should read a book for typesetting a small
paper?!'' I provide a small and very compact leaflet for our university
use (about 40 pages), but some even don't read that small thing.

I sometimes compare LaTeX to Microsoft Word. And I can't forget reading
about how to cut and paste everywhere in the help. What do you exactly mean
by documentation?

> but even if xml _does_ take over, there are going to be people wanting
> advice on how to use xml tools to produce an acceptable visual
> result.
Yes, yes. Dear Sebastian, this is very important. LaTeX has got
somewhere in between, between visual markup and and a logical one.
How do you think a math author trying to introduce a new notation
can use generic MathML?

And I write:

Dear friends,
Let's LaTeX grow. Let's take good ideas from SGML/XML/DSSSL. Let's take
good features from Microsoft Word (!). And let the future select.
You can't force him.

I also think more document classes (standard ones) are needed. When we
tell the users: ``Ok, use article for memos, leaflets, reports and ads,''
how can we stop them from tag misuse? We are instructing them to this
kind of work indirectly.

--Roozbeh

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