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Re: revised draft of EuroTeX paper

Chris Rowley wrote:
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> The description of .mfd files does not make it clear to which of these
> they will set up a mapping:
>   the internal LaTeX font selection scheme `name' of the (virtual)
>   font;
>   the external font file name.
> I assume it should be the former, since the .fd files do the rest of
> the job.
> Also, when referring, as in the .fd paragraph, in the present to the
> font selection scheme, please use the term `\LaTeX{} font selection
> scheme' (since it is no longer new and there should not be any others
> around, it should no longer be called NFSS or NFSS2).  Thanks.

The mfd files define the mapping that is given by the bunch of
\SetSymbolFont statements necessary to set up math fonts. I would say
this is a mapping {symbolic math alphabet names} --> {LaTeX font shapes}
where LaTeX font shapes are the beasts declared by \DeclareFontShape.

So I would propose to replace the term `set of virtual fonts' in the
offending paragraph by `set of \LaTeX{} font shapes'. Is that better ?

> I do not think we should agonise too much about whether or not to
> include in a math encoding some particular symbol that is already
> available in some reasonably widely available font: eg the Icelandic
> letters.
> Typically, in my experience, any given document will require at most
> one or two such glyphs.  And it is very unlikely that one math
> document will use up more than 12 math families.  So a better approach
> would be to provide an easy way to set up in a document preamble
> math-mode access to a particular slot in a particular encoding and a
> font that is set up by the system to be available in LaTeX (possibly
> after loading a .fd file).  The user is assumed to know what slot in a
> VF is required and either the internal LaTeX specification of the font
> or its font-file name.  This is probably not very useful for the lone
> user but at a reasonably LaTeX-aware site it is quite realistic for
> such information about fonts for use with TeX to be accessible but
> that not all are set up for immediate math use in the basic LaTeX
> system.

One could imagine a small package `diffops' providing math access to a bunch
of text symbols which are occasionally used as differential operators like
\eth, \thorn, \dupright, etc. It would just be:

> One way to do this is to provide a nice interface to something like:
>   \nfss@text {\usefont ... \char ...}
> or, eg,
>   \mathrel{\nfss@text { ... } }
> This has the following features:
> --  it does not use up math families;
> --  it does not change size unless amsmath is in use (this could be
>     fixed by loading code to make \nfss@text do its magic);
> --  accent placement will not be so good (only a big problem for slopy
>     symbols).

While I agree that it would be nice to have a generic way to access
text symbols a la \text{<text symbol>}, I think the motivation for putting
the most commonly used text symbols (\dupright,\eth,\thorn,...) in MC was to 
enable kerning to improve the appearance of things like \dupright\theta. 
This will always be a compromise, since only a small selection of the 
possibly needed text symbols can get a slot in MC. So we should take care
to find the most frequently used ones.

Regards, Matthias

Matthias Clasen, 
Tel. 0761/203-5606
Email: clasen@mathematik.uni-freiburg.de
Institut fuer Mathematik, Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet Freiburg