LaTeX3 snapshot release

The LaTeX3 Project (of which I’m a member) have made a snapshot release of the current LaTeX3 code to CTAN today. This is in two parts:

  • expl3, the base layer for LaTeX3, which provides a consistent programming interface for LaTeX3 on top of TeX (or rather, on top of pdfTeX, XeTeX or LuaTeX).
  • xpackages, higher level interface ideas for LaTeX3.

expl3 is now reasonably stable: the code has been carefully reviewed and the Team are happy that what is there works well. There are gaps, and some of these are definitely on the “to do” list. On the other hand, the xpackages bundle is not so close to being finished. At the moment, it includes only the parts of the experimental code that look the closest to reaching some kind of conclusion. However, it is also the part that is actively being reviewed at the moment. So I expect changes!

I’m hoping that as expl3 gets distributed around the TeX world it will be possible to consider using it for coding new packages. The ideas in expl3 make coding much easier, over all, even if initially there is a lot to learn. Of course, delivering more of LaTeX3 will help in getting people interested as well. That is something I’m definitely keen on.

5 thoughts on “LaTeX3 snapshot release

  1. The news is just excellent.

    I have two suggestions.

    1. Update the latex3 web page with clearer statement of current development stage and plan. I think this is a traditional way to excite interest but latex seems to ignore it for quite some time.

    2. If expl3 is the system (basic) layer and the code is converging to stable, a good manual is needed. It could well be in the form of a book.

    — Leo

  2. Hello Leo,

    The website is a bit of an awkward one. It’s not on any CMS system: everything is done by hand and copied from the project SVN to the live site. Also, most people interested in LaTeX want LaTeX2e, so LaTeX3 will be down the list a bit for the foreseeable future. I’d agree, though, that we perhaps need some more “visibility”.

    On expl3, there are various documents. “Source3” is the typeset reference material. It’s comprehensive but not aimed as a learners guide. The document “expl3” is more that way, but probably not quite right at the moment. I’ve written an introductory TUGBoat article about expl3, which I hope will appear in the next issue. The plan is then to have something in each TUGBoat after that.

    I’d agree we need a proper programming guide, which will probably need bits of all of the above. The Team have lots to work on, but I’ll bear this task in mind and perhaps start on something. In the end, it would be ideal to write a proper “Programming LaTeX3” book, but that will depend on the rest of LaTeX3, not just expl3.

  3. The situation with the website is regrettable. But the latex3 pages (those linked from the column along with latex2e on the right) should have more up-to-date news. Hiding the news in pdf newsletters is going to severely cut the number of people reading it, I think.

    I think after 15 years, it is not too hasty to move away from focus on latex2e to the new project if we want it to come to light someday.

    Expl3 can be counted as one of the 3 milestones towards the final product. Let’s give it the publicity it deserves.

  4. Having to write the HTML pages by hand isn’t too much of a pain as far as I’m concerned, except that we need to manually do the news feed. Oh, and there’s no RSS, which is rather regrettable.

    I think the combination of expl3.pdf and source3.pdf, plus any and all TUGboat articles, is more than enough at the moment.

    Anyway, in terms of a public roadmap, we’re a little shaky on the details ourselves. Since no-one is working full-time on this project, it’s hard to say what should and can be done next given limited resources. I agree an over-arching plan is desirable in the long term, but I don’t see that it will help us get work done *now*.

    And it’s the execution that counts, not the talking about it. (See the LuaTeX project as the perfect example.)

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