[tex-live] [LONG] Improving TeX package classification and the associated documentaion

Norbert Preining preining at logic.at
Mon Jul 2 13:34:41 CEST 2007

Hi Florent, hi all,

On Mon, 02 Jul 2007, Florent Rougon wrote:
> >>   Each package (in the sense of CTAN package, not Debian) contains an
> >>   XML file that specifies the following:
> >
> > How will we ever get at this?
> Basically, the database need not be complete to be useful. Having only
> the "important" packages tagged would already be very helpful to users,
> I think.

Agreed, so let us forget this one.

> > Furthermore I would prefer *not* to have new stuff on CTAN.
> I'm not sure what the problem with "new stuff" is, but...

The problem is that if one of us writes a meta data file for a package
because the maintainer does not do it, and we put it on
CTAN/macros/foobar, and there is a new release, then normally all the
files are replaced there, so it might happen quite easy that the tagging
gets lost.

I see a package dir on CTAN like macros/foobar as his space where nobody
else should play around.

> That can be done. But then, the burden of tagging the packages relies on
> the shoulders of the sole catalogue maintainers, and I fear that this

True, that's the reason why I mentioned the experimental stuff, see

> That's mainly why I wanted the metadata to be part of CTAN packages:
> careful package authors will tag their packages in a good way. That
> would make their packages easier to find without causing any additional
> work for the catalogue maintainers.

You are right, I see your point, and I agree that this would be the best
solution. But this is something we should discuss with:
- the CTAN team
- the TeX Live team
- probably on the c.t.t. mailing list?

Anyone here has an opinion for that?

> > Another problem is that sometimes packages on CTAN don't directly ship
> > documentation files, but they have to be created.
> Ah, that is indeed a problem I hadn't thought about. In these cases,
> what happens on the catalogue side?

No idea, sorry. But we are trying to work around in the experimental
stuff, see below.

> If (1), then we (TeX Live) are on our own and have to build the doc
> ourselves. I won't develop this case for now because this becomes a bit

This is already done for many packages, see ctan2tl script, and below

> If (2), then I think the CTAN package should be stored in what I'll call
> "definitive form" *with* its documentation, and the metadata (be it in

unfortunately "definitive" form does not exist, the variety how stuff in
CTAN directories is organized is mind boggling ...

> > One way out of this dilemma I see is:
> > - we migrate the CTAN upload procedure to the experimental one currently
> >   in testing phase
> Sorry, I don't know what this experimental procedure consists of.

Ok, Jim Hefferon from the CTAN team presented on the EuroBachoTeX
conference an experimental CTAN upload process via a web interface. Main
points of this was that authors not only upload stuff, but also can
edit the metadata as present in the catalogue. 

Most important we try to build a TDS package of what is uploaded, so
that people can download a TDS ready package from CTAN. This is done in
a horrible perl script called ctan2tl which was developed for TeX Live
inclusion. We are working on this to update it for new packages, but
of course it still does not work for all.

Of course this script *has* knowledge of documentation files, because
everything what is left in texmf-dist/doc/... is a documentation file

But nothing of tagging etc.

> As far as TL (as opposed to CTAN) is concerned, that might be a bit
> different, as the number of packages is, I think, more manageable. But

Actually no, everything which is on CTAN and free is (with exceptions)
included in TL. So TL *is* CTAN in this sense, or better 
	TL = ctan2tl(CTAN) + some magic;
(would be nice if it once will work ;-)

Best wishes


Dr. Norbert Preining <preining at logic.at>        Vienna University of Technology
Debian Developer <preining at debian.org>                         Debian TeX Group
gpg DSA: 0x09C5B094      fp: 14DF 2E6C 0307 BE6D AD76  A9C0 D2BF 4AA3 09C5 B094
He dropped his voice still lower. In the stillness, a fly
would not have dared cleat its throat.
                 --- Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

More information about the tex-live mailing list