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On 20/01/2009, at 6:30 PM, Joseph Wright wrote:

> I've had a go at summarising the key aims of LaTeX3, as I understand
> them, on  my blog (http://www.texdev.net).  I'd be interested to know
> how close I've got to the team's vision!  There's also a very
> interesting comment there about the shortcomings of LaTeX2e versus
> ConTeXt (http://www.texdev.net/2009/01/19/latex3-key-points/ 
> #comments).

Hi Joseph,

I think I've mentioned to you before that our thinking here is very  
closely aligned; in my opinion you've done a good job covering the  
"big vague issues" that I expect LaTeX3 to address in time.

The most interesting part for me is your point #2 -- designing an  
improved, consistent interface for functionality that spans what's  
described in The LaTeX Companion and then some.

I think I might have mentioned it before but I think it would be a  
good idea to examine projects like Gellmu and see if we can coerce or  
pervert the existing LaTeX document syntax into validating XML; I  
believe that we can make it easier to write LaTeX by hand (since I  
assume that people will always want to do this) by decreasing the  
number of "special characters" and by eliminating the space-gobbling  
macro that takes no arguments (which is useful for macro writers but  
error-prone for document authors). (E.g., forcing users to write  
something like `\LaTeX;` rather than `\LaTeX{}` or `\LaTeX\ ` or  
`{\LaTeX}`.)

I don't have much to say about LaTeX3 vs. ConTeXt besides the fact  
that I've hardly used ConTeXt, and it does seem like many of the goals  
of the LaTeX project have already been implemented in ConTeXt; it's  
possibly only critical mass that prevents it being a worthy successor  
to LaTeX2e. On the other hand, I think it's good for us to approach  
similar problems independently to explore different possibilities. As  
Joseph commented, I hope that ConTeXt Mk IV and LaTeX3 could be  
complements rather than direct competitors to each other.

Staying on this point for a second, one big philosophical different  
between the two is that once the LaTeX3 document model is designed it  
will no doubt remain rigidly backwards compatible for many many years,  
whereas ConTeXt may continue to evolve and continue to break backwards  
compatibility to various degrees (although this may well not be the  
case after Mk IV is complete).

Hypothetically speaking, I might expect a strict LaTeX3 document class  
to be eligible for becoming an ISO standard, whereas ConTeXt is not  
being designed, as far as I know, to naturally fit into this sort of  
model of rigidity.

Meanwhile, better get back to work so that I can spend some other time  
on the expl3 code so we can start working on all these things that we  
keep talking about :)

Will