MacTeX Technical Working Group:
Real World Applications of TeX - 2

Back-End Examples
This is a list of real-world online server applications, which use programs in the TeX family as back-ends.

AcroTeX eDucation Bundle
The AcroTeX Bundle is a collection of LaTeX Packages designed to make it easy for educators to put nice looking, interactive educational materials on the WWW. The AcroTeX Bundle provides support for page design, online exercises and quizzes. The quizzes use Acrobat JavaScript to process quiz results, so the Bundle provides support for entering JavaScript code into the LaTeX source and a JavaScript library is provided so document authors can expend or customize the capabilities of the quiz enviornments. The quiz component of the Bundle makes extensive use of Acrobat forms, fairly complete support of eForms is provided as well. Finally, for those who want to transmit quiz results to server-side, there is a package and server-side scripts that can be used to save results to a database, email results to a destination, or save results to a tab-delimited file.

This is a nice example on the use of the AcroTeX Bundle and PSTricks for a talk given at the 15th ICTCM Conference, Disney World, Orlando. The presentation was inspired by some of Han Hagen's (ConTeXt) presentations.
[ All hypertext links to the examples have been removed. See the last page for a little animation, with sound. ]

-- Don P. Story, University of Akron, Ohio, USA

Automated Data-Collection System
This article describes the author's experience of using TeX for typesetting the Anaesthesia Record as part of an automated data-collection system developed for use in the operating theatre. The program (Open Source) has recently been ported to Linux and been rewritten in C++ and Perl, and LaTeX2e, The new program is experimental and still under development.

-- R. W. D. Nickalls, Department of Anaesthesia, City Hospital, Nottingham, UK

Cave-Surveying Program
Therion is a cave-surveying program, which uses MetaPost and pdfTeX for map drawing. It produces maps and 3D models of caves or cave systems. It is free. It is multi-platform. It is fun.

-- Martin Budaj, PhD. student (mathematics), Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia

Custom Legal Documents for the IBM AutoLoan Exchange
A group at the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center where transaction-oriented systems are developed, choose to use TeX to provide document support for a pilot project they were undertaking with Chase Manhattan Automotive Finance corporation, a subsidiary of The Chase Manhattan Bank. The IBM AutoLoan Exchange was developed and delivered on much of its promise. The application defined a new direction for the business of automobile financing unforseen by existing vendors in the field. (pdf)
Our world is a networked, distributed world of electronic commerce where complex legal documents are delivered from a server and customized by a client at the point of delivery. We have shown that TeX can provide the capability needed to typeset these documents transparently, without recourse to a page-layout or word-processing system.
The TeX typesetting system was vital to the success of the printing subsystem of the IBM AutoLoan Exchange. TeX can play a vital role wherever custom legal documents are needed in the world of the Net.
-- Douglas Lovell, IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, TUGboat, Volume 18, No. 3 (1997)

Custom Publishing
The ATLIS custom publishing demonstration includes variable data elements and user controlled features that build a customized publication from data provided by the The CIA World Fact Book.

-- William Adams, ATLIS Graphics & Design, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, USA

Customized Railroad TimeTables
Germany's "Die Bahn" Server runs pdfTeX as a backend to generate customized time tables for railroad service in a browser on the internet. (English), (German)

Go to the German Railroad web page,
Die Bahn, ( --> Fahrpläne --> Persönlicher Fahrplan)
After entering your data, a pdf file is created (using pdfTeX) and made available for download.

-- Thomas Esser, FinanzIT GmbH, Hannover, Germany
-- Martin Schröder, Bremen, Germany

Content Management Systems
The Universität zu Köln, uk-online has a Content Management System (CMS) that makes use of pdfLaTeX to produce statistics, grading proofs and all sorts of documentation from a database source. Only registered users (i.e., students and professors) can explore the way the functions are implemented. The functions provided are:

  • grading proofs ("Scheine") are batch-generated via pdfLaTeX and can be either sent to students or printed out by the respective professor
  • evaluation statistics for the authorities are generated using LaTeX + pstricks (pst-bar). LaTeX produces nice diagrams on class attendance etc.
  • colored individual calendars are generated using pdfLaTeX.

-- Jan Eden, Universität zu Köln, Germany

German Unicyle Hockey League Tournaments
The german unicycle hockey league, prepares their schedule for the tournaments with pdfTeX. The league tournaments are set up in a database and HTML pages and PDF pages with the schedule are created using Perl scripts. The workflow is as follows:
-- Patrick Gundlach, Bochum, Germany

PHP Scripts and LaTeX Integration Online
LatexRender is a set of scripts that allows one to call LaTeX from PHP programs; in particular, this allows users to enter LaTeX commands in a forum and, on posting, have it replaced by a suitable gif or png. LatexRender requires LaTeX and ImageMagick to be installed. The open source PHP code was originally designed for use with phpBB, but it can be adapted for use with other PHP programs. Details and Example Installations are given here.

-- Steve Mayer, Poole, UK

MacQTeX provides online quizzes in PDF format for mathematics, having randomised question parameters which allow students to practice many examples of the same quiz. The quizzes are automatically marked and contain fully worked solutions. The checking of answers, marking and calculating the score is done in a way that makes it possible to make quizzes which are fully functional but independent of a server. The quizzes are generated using pdfLaTeX and is based on D.P. Story's exerquiz package for LaTeX.

-- Ross Moore, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

School Administration Reports
I'm using LaTeX to generate all of the reports in my Open Source school administration package (written in perl). It is being used by several school divisions in my province here in Saskatchewan, Canada, and some international schools. I also use LaTeX2html to convert documentation.

I've also used it do the same thing for online test generation for high school subjects as part of a provincial online testbank project. It is also located on my site at richtech.ca but the source is not yet available.

It works well at my schools, is easy to setup, is very reliable, and "gets the job done".

-- Les Richardson, Open Admin for Schools, H. Hardcastle School
Edam, SK. Canada

Testing MathML support in ConTeXt
A webpage that is meant for ConTeXt users who want to play a bit with the experimental MathML processor.

-- Hans Hagen, PRAGMA-ADE, GH Hasselt, The Netherlands

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