[tex-live] Should .tds.zip be encouraged? (was: characters > 127 in .dtx and .sty files)

Karl Berry karl at freefriends.org
Thu Dec 24 02:18:31 CET 2009

    Then perhaps such a "quick explanation" could be clarified where more
    in-depth knowledge is needed. 

It is not so simple, and would not solve anything in the real world.
Sorry.  In general, my experience is that if a package author is not
interested in (or capable of) reading the full TDS document
(tug.org/tds) and understanding it, and also looking at existing
packages in TL and/or miktex to see what they do when they have
questions, then they shouldn't be creating .tds.zip.

    For simple packages it ought to be enough, though.

Preparing the first tds.zip for a simple package is not so hard.  But
that is only one step.  You also have to keep the .tds.zip updated (many
times that does not happen), and ensure its consistency with the non-tds
sources (many times that does not happen), avoid screwing up in creating
the zip file (many times that happens), etc., etc.

Meanwhile, for simple packages the standard ctan2tl conversion works
fine and needs no work (ditto miktex, I'm sure).  And furthermore, it is
additional work for the author to prepare, as you know.

So all this additional work is being done by everyone (the author, CTAN,
TL, MikTeX), with nontrivial possibility of error at every stage, and
the only benefit is to the people Robin mentions, that are "stuck" with
their system installs and who are incapable of running the dtx file
themselves ... but still want updates.  Not even close to worth it IMHO.

Complex packages, such as hyperref, vntex, and so on, conceivably do
benefit from creating a .tds.zip.  I have no opinion on that.  Their
(very experienced) authors know better than me what they should do.
It's only promoting .tds.zip as an ideal approach in an ideal world to
every neophyte author that I take issue with -- the world is not ideal.

    Which submission format is the least troublesome then? 

For my purposes: just upload to update the main CTAN tree.  No "format"
is necessary.  A flat directory is fine.  Subdirectories are fine if you
think it helps CTAN browsers (I flatten them :).

    Perhaps there should be a clearer message for package authors

I long ago updated http://tug.org/texlive/pkgcontrib.html (though few
people see it), which is all that I control myself for TL purposes.

CTAN and I have discussed this issue ad infinitum (and they've discussed
it without me plus infinitum), and of course what they do is up to them.


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