[texhax] Archiving Documents

Henry Law news at lawshouse.org
Tue Apr 30 20:08:12 CEST 2013

On 26/04/13 12:46, Neal H. Walfield wrote:
> Hi,
> At some point (soon), I'm going to be done with my thesis.  I'd like
> to archive the document along with all its TeX dependencies (that is,
> everything except for latex itself).  My motivation is that I want to
> be able to rebuild my thesis in a few years.

This is a particular case of a general problem: one that will become 
increasingly important as more and more vital material is written, 
submitted, read and indexed digitally.

I think you have two problems: preserving the 2013 thesis, as submitted, 
for future reference; and preserving the knowledge from the 2013 thesis 
(which includes TeX knowledge) for future use.  I can't imagine that you 
will want the TeX files in order to "rebuild" your thesis, some time 
after its submission and the award of the degree on which it depends!

To preserve the thesis in as-submitted form I recommend PDF/A, which is 
accepted by may major libraries as being likely (with reasonably high 
values of probability) to be readable for many years to come.  To be 
doubly sure convert any images you have into an uncompressed bitmap form 
(.BMP) and store those separately, to help insulate you against bit-rot 
as the years go by.  Even if ".BMP" gets forgotten, it will never be 
very hard to write a little program to convert 24-bit RGB descriptions 
of pixels into whatever format is in use at some future time.

To preserve the TeX knowledge?  Steven's scripts sound like a pretty 
good start but they will inevitably miss something; and in any case you 
can't anticipate software changes of the kind you've already experienced.

Philipp's point is the real one: at the TeX level you can't do it.  You 
have some chance with a virtual machine, for a few years at any rate, 
but to do it really properly you'd need a Universal Virtual Computer 
(UVC): search for it and you'll find more information than you need.


Henry Law            Manchester, England

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