[tex-live] free software, DFSG

Charley Bay charleyb123 at yahoo.com
Sat Jun 5 05:01:12 CEST 2004

> <snip>,
> > charley asked:
> > 'possible strategic directions' or archives that
> > I could peruse?

Karl responded:
> This list is as good as any; you might find the TDS
> list/archives interesting, or you might not.  There
> is no single list devoted to "TeX strategy".  There
> is no TeX strategy.  There is no single TeX
> community, or project, or anything else.  Both a
> strength and a weakness.

Yes, I guess that's consistent with many open
source projects (especially when they get to a
maintenance level).

> > more about what we *have* and what we *might
> > want*.

> I think handling Unicode is the biggest thing we
> might want.  Current Omega does not suffice.
> The latest thing I read on that was
> Plaice/Haralambous/et al.'s
> contribution to TUG 2003, which outlines an
> incredibly general strategy to doing this, kind of
> like what Olaf was talking about.
> There's a preprint somewhere on
> http://tug.org/tug2003.

Ah, found it:

> However, you'll find that doesn't get you any closer
> to some project you can contribute to on the ground,
> it's the view from 10,000 feet.  Aleph
> (aka e-omega) is, from all I've seen, by far the
> most realistic/workable project in this area.  The
> principal maintainer (Giuseppe Bilotta) is on
> this list; maybe you could contribute there.

Perfect!  That was *exactly* what I needed.  I know
I didn't do a good job asking for it, but I was
after the 'design theory of operation' for these
assorted projects.  That paper gave it to me for
revised direction on Omega.  THANKS.

I guess I'm still missing that kind of thing with
projects like xmlroff.  Simply going to SourceForge
to see '7 bugs, one unassignned' and '12 feature
requests' didn't give me enough understanding of
what's going on.  Reading about Sun open sourcing
the project in 2002 with Tony working on it 
regularly didn't help me understand how it's supposed
to really work (simply saying it's an implementation
of the W3C pattern for XML->XSL->FO->PDF wasn't
enough).  At the lowest level, it somehow has to
mention concepts for 'glue', char and glyph 
translation, theory for object translation to 
real estate, etc.  Being implemented in Java, I'm 
assuming the higher-level document structure and
basic Unicode support trumps by far any concerns for
lower-level typesetting based on context (but that's
just a guess).

I'm actually quite interested and excited about what
[Plaice, Swoboda, Haralambous, Rowley, et al.] were
talking about in the paper you mention.  Now THAT'S
something I can understand:  Not a mere brute-force
push, but a reasoned theory of operation that may
yield significant features.

That's what attracted me to TeX:  Its academic
completeness made it an elegant solution to the 
problem it tried to solve.  It just never tried
to solve for localization (and so many other
things relevant today).  Fundamentally, we're
talking about some honestly hard problems, and I've
found that incremental discovery requires a
tremendously disciplined and clean approach or
you hit the wall far too soon.  The world is full
of software projects that just can't go any

IMHO, computer science remains the only field I know
where, "ideas are cheap, and implementation is
[profoundly] expensive".  ;-)

Rather than continue rambling, I'll keep looking
for information on projects in general, and study
Omega in particular.  THANKS!  You gave me what I


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