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> > the fact that things are in contrib/supported is no real indication at
> > all -- people ask for their stuff to go there, and then disappear (for
> > example, the author of booktabs, an excellent package, is uncontactable),
>
> The original idea of the supported area (and described in a document of
> Joachim's which I am not sure was ever really public) was that there
> would be some kind of `robot' sitting at ctan that
> a) checked that the package would unpack and produce own documentation
> 2) would mail the author every six months with a `are you there' message
>    If the author didn't reply within a certain timescale the package
>    would automatically be ejected from `supported' back to `other'.

> Phillip said
>
> > To sum up, get rid of contrib/supported.  If it's supported, it should
> > go into the core.
>
> No, there must always be a distinction between the core latex
> distribution as coming from the latex project, and contributed
> stuff. Even if contrib is split between a `must have' minimal
> base latex distribution and an `optional extra' contributed package
> section. If stuff is in the core then people can mail latex-bugs@mainz
> and moan if it doesn't work, and then I (or Frank or Chris) is supposed
> to fix it.

OK, a new suggestion.  Basic functionality, reasonably complete, is in
the core.  Perhaps some stuff like natbib should be moved into the core,
presumably in cooperation with Patrick.  It is more essential than, say,
graphics, at least for many people.  The supported/contrib distinction
is still there.  Stuff in the supported part conforms to packaging and
documentation guidelines, is compatible with everything else in the core
and supported place and the author is contactable.  I think supported
means SOMEONE, either the original author or someone else, supports it.
Perhaps people should be contacted every six months if they want their
stuff in the supported section.  Contrib is basically as it is now.
There should be a new category, `frozen', for stuff which was formerly
supported but is no longer.  This implies that it is no longer supported
and will not change.  The fact that it was once supported implies some
basic quality, and the fact that it is frozen might even be attractive
since it implies that it will not change.  Isn't BibTeX supposed to be
frozen at 1.0 when it comes out (like TeX, in essence---only bug fixes
in the future)?  Of course, some frozen and contrib stuff, as much as
possible, should be moved to the core.  The `frozen' category keeps
things from being demoted.

This is the way many software packages work.  There's the main stuff
from the main vendor (core) and layered products (contrib) which can
always be expected to work in combination with each other and with the
core.  There are then retired (frozen) products which used to be part of
the core or contrib (basic stuff or layered products) and can still be
expected to work in the future (new stuff won't break them) but nothing
new is to be expected.  Then there is all the use-at-your-own-risk third
party stuff.

In summary, I think we need

   o  frozen as a new category

   o  moving essential stuff to the core

   o  making the distinctions clear to all


--
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
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UK-Cheshire SK11 9DL                    Web ... http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/~pjh/