[tex-live] free software, DFSG

Charley Bay charleyb123 at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 4 21:24:33 CEST 2004

> Charley Bay wrote:
> > IMHO, yes, there *is* a future for high quality
> > typesetting as TeX provides.  The rapid surge in
> > HTML popularity doesn't mean HTML displaces
> > typesetting (fads and technology come and go...
> > all the HTML authored intranets of the 1990's are
> > dying now).

Sebastian replied:
> are being replaced by? services that deliver stuff
> to you using (X)HTML, perhaps?

Yes, it's largely that.  But, that's an artifact
of 'publishing' in the sense of 'interachange'.
Much of the world has moved to dynamic generation of
content on-the-fly.  The 'storage' format varies, and
the mechanism for the 'content of record' varies.
The (X)HTML only kicks in because it's reasonably
fast to generate and trade, and it's a reasonably
agreed upon format with widely available (dynamic)
rendering engines built for speed and feature, and
not quality of the output.  TeX (and high quality
typesetting in general) will never compete with that,
but it wasn't meant to.

In contrast, I see typesetting as still relevant
for high quality offline rendering (speed is always
nice, but we render offline and merely distribute the
fully typeset result).  The continuing prevolence of
PDF and printed documentation seem to justify that
paradigm as well.

I suppose it's possible that (X)HTML could be
'extended' in some 'well known way' to provide
additional typesetting instruction, but it wasn't
meant for that and I don't see any interest nor
discussion in the (X)HTML camps in ever going there.
They generally don't deal with concepts like Tables
of Contents, nested section numbering, indices, nor
even footnotes.

>  I would argue very strongly that the web _has_
> done away with, probably for ever, a large
> proportion of the uses for TeX in its first 20
> years.

I suppose that's true, especially in light of
dynamic media, video, hyperlinks, and
internationalization (not things TeX is known for).
But, just as PDF is a good rendered specification,
it seems like there should be a good 'to-be-typeset'
specification also.  I'm not real impressed with FO,
but maybe that's the direction.  We still need a
rendering engine.

> > I still have questions about other parts of the 
> > landscape:  What about some of the 'commercial'
> > distributions? 

> no serious innovation for years, I believe

Ah, distractions from the web no doubt.

> > What about alternative typesetting
> > technologies?  
> the publishing world is getting behind XSL FO
> slowly.

Ok.  I find the commercial XSL FO tools are ok,
but the open source ones are pretty broken.  The
quality of the output isn't nearly as good as 
through today's TeX, IMHO.  I'm reluctant to give
up that quality of output.

> its not TeX, but several of the implementations use
> some of the TeX algorithms (paragraph makeup,
> hyphenation).

Makes sense.

> > I don't have a good handle on where
> > this type of strategic discussion takes place,
> > though.  Is there a list to talk about these
> > 'possible strategic directions' or archives that I
> > could peruse?
> TeX lists tends to start with the assumption that
> "we've got TeX, we've got some problems, let's fix
> TeX". Other lists might be more like "we've got
> problems, what software is out there to solve them".
> See, its hard to find a really objective forum.

<sigh>.  I guess I could be a forum of just me, 
but I don't yet have ideas of what to push yet.
And, I probably wouldn't agree with them anyway.  ;-)

Thanks for the thoughts.  I'll think on this some


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