A lot has happened in those twelve months since the last TUG Conference (the 16th) in St. Petersburg (Florida). We now know that the revolution in the area of electronic documents is here to stay. It becomes more and more commonplace to find individuals connecting from home computers to the Internet, and even in Europe ``going global'' starts to become affordable, with most PTT's now offering ISDN lines at prices comparable to normal telephone connections and many cable operators providing Internet services.
TeX users worldwide are finally beginning to profit fully from these electronic wonders, and can now download everything they need from a CTAN site via the Internet, or put one of several CD-ROMs which appeared over the last twelve months (one for MS-DOS by NTG, one containing the CTAN archives by DANTE, and a TDS-based plug-and-play one for Unix by TUG, GUTenberg and UKTUG) in their CD-drive. Efforts to regularly update these CD-ROMs and extending the target domain to Microsoft Windows (NT and 95), and Macintosh are already underway, so that I have good hopes that dealing with TeX will one day become almost as simple as running Word, WordPerfect, or other easy-to-install commercial products. At the same time translation programs between LaTeX sources and various electronic hyper-formats, such as HTML, Acrobat, have been further improved. It is thus fair to say that LaTeX users are certainly not the worst placed to fully profit in an almost effortless manner from both the typographic excellence of the TeX engine and the easy integration of their documents in the global information hyperhighway. Therefore, I would like to thank all individuals who have worked hard to develop these important tools and I can only hope that they will contribute to make TeX better known in the PC commodity market, where the action in the world of electronic publishing (and computing in general) will be more and more concentrated in the future.
I am writing these words a fews weeks before the start of TUG'96, the 17th TUG Annual Meeting, taking place in the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna (Russia). It is only the second time that TUG's Annual Meeting has taken place outside of North America (the first time was in 1993, in Aston, Birmingham, United Kingdom). Moreover, this time we are moving beyond the English-speaking world altogether, as we are guests in the heart of Russia, the largest country in the world, spanning eleven time zones, and where the majority of the 150 million inhabitants speak Russian, which is written using the non-Latin Cyrillic alphabet. I sincerely thank CyrTUG for the invitation to come to Russia, and JINR for helping with the technical organization of the Conference. It shows that TeX is truly international and knows no borders, and that it is an ideal vehicle to promote friendship, and foster cultural exchanges and scientific collaboration.
The subject area covered by the papers at this Conference shows the diversity of the TeX culture in the world, more particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. When reading the articles, one may sometimes be struck by a ``funny'' or ``unexpected'' not-very-English-sounding expression, but this merely shows the true richness of all contributions. It underlines the fact that various approaches exist to attain a certain goal, and reading about these solutions often opens up new horizons. And then there are the ``classics'', like Omega, the dc fonts, ``Blue'', whose steady improvements we have been following over the years, as well as the efforts of the LaTeX3-team providing us each semester with a more robust LaTeX2e, and the promises of eTeX, as announced at TUG'95. All this makes it clear that TeX is more alive than ever, and looking for a seat on the front row when Unicode, hypersurfing, and virtual (ir)reality take over the world.
Let me conclude by expressing my gratitude to the Production
Team, especially Mimi and Christina, for their
tremendous effort on the present proceedings. I also want to
thank all authors, for their continued support by communicating their
work to the wider TeX community, thus increasing the pool of
TeX-pertise available to everybody. And, last but not least, let me
mention the support of DANTE, GUTenberg, NTG, and UKTUG, who donated
funds to the TUG Bursary or otherwise contributed in kind to the
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