l3kernel update included a ‘breaking change’: something we know alters behaviour, but which is needed for the long term. Of course, despite the fact the team try to pick up what these things will break, we missed one, and there was an issue with
lualatex-math as a result, which showed up for people using
unicode-math (also reported on TeX-sx). Luckily, those packages all use GitHub, as does the LaTeX3 team, so it was easy to quickly fork the code and for me to create a fix. That’s the big advantage of having code available using one of the distributed version systems (GitHub and BitBucket are the two obvious places): sending in a fix is a two-minute job, even if it’s someone else’s project. So I’d encourage everyone developing open code to got to CTAN to consider using one of these services: it really does make fixing bugs easier. From report to fix and CTAN update in less than 24 h, which I’d say is pretty good!
A few months ago, Javier Bezos offered to take over dealing with babel maintenance. He’s been working on getting things in order, and collecting up bug reports, and has now set up a page for development news. Javier has included a road map of what he’s hoping to do, all of which looks very sensible to me. I particularly welcome the idea that he’s going to stick to the core part of babel (the mechanisms), with each language viewed as a module to be maintained by someone knowledgeable. One of the issues babel has faced is that it’s simply not realistic to handle all of that in one place. It’s great that he’s putting the effort in.
A while ago I posted about Arara, a new tool to allow automated compilation of (La)TeX documents. As I said then, the big advantage of Arara is that each document can be set up to follow distinct rules which are part of the document itself, rather than being part of the tool. Development of Arara has continued at some pace, and it’s now available to download with a cross-platform installer. The bundle includes pre-built rules for common cases and an option to add to the system path (to make using it easier). So I’d expect a lot of people to try Arara out: it really is a very clear approach to automation.
Earlier in the year, a new guide to LaTeX was published: LaTeX and Friends by Marc van Dongen. I think the book is pretty good: I wrote a preface for it! Marc has now produced a short video promoting the book itself but also LaTeX more generally. The first five or so minutes concentrate on LaTeX, then the rest of the video moves on to how his book highlights particular areas. It’s certainly worth taking a look, not only for the content but also as the video itself is very well produced.
I’ve just uploaded a first attempt at biblatex-phys to CTAN: give it a day or so to be mirrored around the world or pick it up from the BitBucket development site. I’ve based the style on REVTeX, which seems to show that the AIP and APS use more-or-less the same style with a few tiny variations. So I’ve provided one style and used some options to control the output. I’m sure there will be a few rough edges, so at the moment I’ve set the version as 0.9, meaning that there may well be adjustments before a truly usable release. However, I’d hope people pick this up and test it: that’s the only way to improve it!
The TeX Users Group today released TeX Live 2012, the TeX distribution used by many Unix and Windows users and the basis for MacTeX. This year’s new features are very much evolutionary, with perhaps the highlight being support for multiple repositories (thus making using TLContrib easier to use). As always, TeX Live 2012 has been in pretest for some time, and works very nicely. (If you’ve been using the pretest, there is no need to reinstall.)
Templates for LaTeX documents are always in demand, but finding them is not always so easy. There’s now a place find them: LaTeX Templates. A quick look around the new site gives a good impression: well organised, easy to follow and good looking. Of course, producing good templates is not easy (we have a few on the UK-TUG site too), so if you have a good suggestion I’d send it in!
A while ago, a question was asked on TeX-sx about biblatex support for the IEEE and AIP bibliography styles. I sorted out an IEEE one pretty quickly: it’s a single style and there is a good demonstration document, so this was not too hard. However, to date I’ve not got the physics side of things sorted. I’ve now been reminded about this, and hopefully have the time available to get on with this. So now all I have to decide is which styles to got for: both the AIP and APS seem pretty obvious, but beyond that I’m not so sure.
Pretesting of the next TeX Live is well under way. This is very much evolutionary: no major changes from TL2011. So far I’ve had no surprises, but that does not mean a bit of caution is not needed (I will keep TL2011 installed too!). Of course, pretesting works best if lots of people get involved, so if you are not doing something critical with documents, or you are comfortable switching between TeX Live installations, then grab a copy and help out.
Bibliographies formatting is complicated, and over the years this has led to the development of a lot of BibTeX styles and tools like custom-bib. For biblatex users the output style can be altered from within LaTeX, and while there is not yet an equivalent of custom-bib for biblatex there is some excellent advice available for developing new styles.
One of the key ideas of is to make it possible to address the citation styles in fields where BibTeX could never provide the correct tools. That shows up most obviously in humanities, where the position of citations in the output needs to feed back into how they appear. Life gets even more complicated when you consider areas that need specialised fields included in their bibliographies: a classic example is law. There are already developments under-way to help support these situation, for example Biber-based flexible data model. Addressing the needs of style authors properly requires co-ordination between the core biblatex team and the style creators, and between different style authors. The question of how to achieve this communication came up recently on TeX-sx.
There are at least a couple of obvious ways for people to stay in touch with each other. First, where there is a need for a specific function to be added to biblatex, the package GitHub site is the place to go. Adding issues makes sure that they don’t get lost in direct e-mails, and also ensures that anyone with a point of view can comment. Secondly, for more open discuss TUG have a bibliography mailing list. To date, this has not been very heavy in terms of traffic, but it would be an ideal forum to co-ordinate effort. It’s publicly archived and anyone can join, so there is no danger of loosing important comments.
Of course, there are other ways to communicate too! All of the team are active on TeX-sx, and when we can we pick up biblatex issues and add them to the to do list. Direct e-mail works too, and I’m sure some style authors will go for direct communication. The key thing is to use the power of biblatex to make life easier for the end-user.