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Re: Alternatives to LaTeX (Was Some comments...)
- To: Multiple recipients of list LATEX-L <LATEX-L@RELAY.URZ.UNI-HEIDELBERG.DE>
- Subject: Re: Alternatives to LaTeX (Was Some comments...)
- From: Frank Mittelbach <Frank.Mittelbach@uni-mainz.de>
- Date: Wed, 16 Apr 1997 16:36:16 +0200
- Reply-To: Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <LATEX-L@RELAY.URZ.UNI-HEIDELBERG.DE>
- Sender: Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <LATEX-L@RELAY.URZ.UNI-HEIDELBERG.DE>
> Hans Aberg wrote:
> > In fact, I am not sure that even the things that Frank Mittelbach wants
> > to do with LaTeX3, can be fully done without requesting a new TeX version.
> > This importance of the LaTeX3, namely, as an indicator on how TeX might
> > evolve, was already recognized by the NTS project several years ago.
there are quite a lot of things that i would want to do which can't be
done with the current TeX. Back in 1990 already I gave a talk at the
texas TUG meeting entitled something like "E-TeX: Guidelines for
future TeX development" where I listed a large number of deficiencies
that the TeX user community need to overcome n the long run.
in fact that article helped triggering the NTS project a bit.
but there are also large areas that can be tackled within the
restrictions of TeX and even if the implementation in some cases might
not be perfect or foolproof the interfaces might be okay and might
survives a later move to a better or more advanced base product.
Marcel Oliver writes:
> >From the user perspective (I really don't know anything
> about the internals and the philosophies behind them),
> it simply amazes me that the main trust of the LaTeX3
> project is not directed towards fixing such an
> elementary and apparent flaw within TeX. With all due
well, it is simply like this: you can't put your energy into
everything. I'm not going to repeat here all the goals the LaTeX3
project has but one maigor goal is to provide a better interface for
design issues in a LaTeX like system. Now part of our goals is to
serve the TeX user community and as long as the user community is
based on TeX it means that we are going to restrict ourselves to
TeX. If there is a successor to TeX available that solves some of the
problems we tried to deal with (or didn't because it was not snesible
to do so) and if this successor has become stable and widely used we
are going to change the base system but we are not going to build on
experimental systems that do change and are only used by a handful of
> respect for Don Knuth, TeX appears to be designed in a
> very anglo-centred way, and I don't see why hypothetical
> version of LaTeX should perpetuate this.
Certainly TeX has that history and some things are better to attempted
but it is not that bleak if you know where the restrictions are and
you are not trying the impossible. But the point is that a proper set
of interfaces can very well survive even if you change from TeX to
eTeX or Omega later on and that is what we are aiming for.
the point where the discussion becomes unproductive is when you try
implementing "the impossible" by the Turing theorem that everything
can be implemented by a turing machine and that TeX is one.
So you could very well come up with a general model for specifying
shortrefs even if in the implementation you then have to built in
restrictions to what that model is allowed to handle within TeX. Or
you can provide a general model for handling language specific
typographic information even if within TeX you can't resolve aesthetic
ligatures or some aspects of hyphenation --- the same model used with
omega will allow you to do that.
> The most striking example might be the non-hyphenation of
> words containing accented letters. To get around this problem
> which might be have been fixed by extending TeX, the
but here is the crux of the matter. this "might be have been fixed by
extending TeX" in itself is not helping you here. It has been fixed
(to some extend) by providing 8bit fonts eg T1 encoded ones but this
only is a solution if those fonts are used everywhere. as you remarked
the ec fonts in type1 might not be available soon everywhere ---- much
less will be a successor to TeX at this point in time. Omega fixes
that particular problem, MLTeX did fix it a long time ago ...
what it proves is that there isn't yet a successor to TeX that people
use to replace TeX on a large scale and as long as this is the case
development for a successor only, doesn't solve problems for them.