[texhax] confused queries...

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Mon Dec 30 07:16:50 CET 2013

On 2013-12-29 at 08:18:21 -0500, Michael Barr wrote:

> Let me just add that I agree and sympathize with this post.

I unconditionally agree with Philip Taylor.

Michael, did you read the original message at all?  Why didn't you
respond yourself?  It's always easy to complain about others.

And as long as many people spend a significant amount of their spare
time in order to help other people it's definitely not justified to
compare this mailing list with a bed of vipers.

> Just a couple weeks ago, I got a private email from someone I will
> not name but is either a developer or close to the developers of
> latex 3 who took me to task for having the temerity to use \hbox
> and \box in a latex document (that I had posted here).  He added
> that I would get my comeuppance when latex 3 is released because
> such relics from plain would be \let to be \undefined.  That's not
> a relic from plain; it is a tex primitive and doing that is an act
> of vandalism.  My reaction is simple.  I will ignore tex 3 and the
> tex community will fork.
>
> But I digress.  Ridicule on this site is uncalled for.  Getting
> clarification is of course always in order.

Michael,
I'm amazed that you misunderstood my response comptetely.  I wrote the
mail in order to clarify things and in the expectation that it's
helpful for you.  I only described technical considerations, no
ridicule or polemics are involved at all.

You tried \setbox0\hbox{{...}} \box0 and wondered why curly braces
have no effect on color.

I tried to explain that TeX isn't aware of colors at all and that PS
and PDF have their own grouping mechanisms.  LaTeX takes this into
account but you have to use LaTeX macros instead of TeX primitives.
It's a matter of fact that LaTeX is more sophisticated.

I'm not involved in LaTeX development.  I mentioned LaTeX 3 because
I'm convinced that providing a powerful macro language and disabling
TeX primitives avoids this kind of confusion.  LaTeX2e doesn't provide
such a language and therefore cannot disable TeX primitives.  This
often leads to the wrong assumption that it's a matter of taste
whether to use LaTeX macros, plain TeX macros, or TeX primitives.
But it's definitely *not* a matter of taste.

If you are using TeX primitives instead of LaTeX macros you certainly
lose parts of LaTeX's functionality.  That's what I tried to explain.
LaTeX's color support is quite complex.  You certainly understand this
better if you see how much effort was necessary add color support to
the LaTeX kernel and the graphics drivers.

I supposed that you expected another answer but I cannot simply
ignore the facts.  If you insist on TeX primitives I can't offer a
simple and reliable solution.  Sorry.

You said:

> it is a tex primitive and doing that is an act of vandalism.

These are your words, not mine.  I never said this and I never had
this or anything similar in mind.  Don't blame me.  Michael, this is
your own invention.  I'm clueless.  Did you *deliberately*
misunderstood everything I said only because you are unhappy with the

details and it doesn't contain ridicule or polemics at all.  What, on
earth, is the reason for your complaint?

Regards,
Reinhard

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Reinhard Kotucha                                      Phone: +49-511-3373112
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