Taking good practice from LaTeX3

LaTeX3 provides a well thought out low level programming environment. There is a lot the (La)TeX programmer can learn about good coding practice from the current experimental code, and I’m trying to use this in siunitx version 2. There are lots of little points that I could highlight, but I’ll pick a few out:

  • Naming internal functions in a systematic way, which means longer but more logical names, such as \si@num@out@uncert@int, a function in siunitx 2 for processing the output of the integer part of an uncertainty in a number. Logical names make for easier to follow code.
  • Using lots of small functions, rather than long ones with complex nesting.
  • Adding @aux to a function name to show an auxiliary part of another macro, rather than some complex vowel substitution using @.
  • Creating new functions for expansion control, rather than having \expandafter runs all over the place.

I’m also taking some of the other ideas in siunitx version 2. For example, where possible I’m aiming only to use \edef where it is really needed (unknown levels of expansion). If something needs to be expanded a known number of times, I’m going for controlled expansion instead. I’ve also really like the idea of switches that don’t use \iffalse and \iftrue to work: much less risk of problems.

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