# compliation failure of minimal latex documents

jack tljack at forallx.net
Tue Feb 4 15:50:57 CET 2020

Yesterday I did a tlmgr --update, and immediately simple documents broke,
showing the following error:

This error also is spewed for typsetting the simplest latex document I can
imagine: one word in the body, and a preamble consisting of
\documentclass{article} and \begin{document}.

I'm really hoping this is an oversight that's easily fixed in whatever
part of core latex thinks it needs l3backend.  I don't see why a simple
latex document with zero \usepackage calls needs to depend on experimental
latex3 stuff.

Moreover, the tlmgr info output for "l3backend" doesn't even tell me
what collection (if any) it belongs to.  It should belong to
collection-latex, though evidently it does not.

Otherwise, even the simplest latex documents would require more than the
"latex fundamental packages" (as the description for collection-latex

Also, we'd have some package in collection-latex depending on
collection-latexrecommended (I presume).  There's no point to having
collection-latex if you can't do anything without *also* having
collection-latexsomethingelse.

Recently there's been an alarming lack of attention paid to which
collection things wind up in.  I'm thinking specifically of the recent
oberdiek debacle: anything split from oberdiek should have gone in the
same collection that oberdiek was in.  That's because some stuff in
collection-latex depends on oberdiek.  But some of it wound up elsewhere,
including collection-latexextra(!!!).  (That should really be fixed, BTW.)

This meant that upon unexpected compliation failure of non-fancy documents
I had to go hunt for these scattered oberdiek packages one-by-one,
manually, instead of having them automatically updated along with
collection-latex.  That is poor UX.

To be fair, I don't have collection-latexrecommended installed; instead I
have several its packages installed individually.  I try to keep my
installation as trim as possible.  I don't need, and never will need,
e.g., koma-script. Nevertheless, it remains the case that compiling a
minimal latex document shouldn't require latex-recommended.

Either a simple latex document shouldn't depend on l3backend, or l3backend
needs to be in collection-latex.

-jack

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