TeXworks v0.2 branch

Jonathan Kew has posted that he has switched the version number of TeXworks to v0.2, and has made a branch to keep things stable. There are new binaries for Windows and Mac users: Linux people still have to compile things themselves. The idea is that the branch will just get bug fixes, keeping the code stable enough for a wider range of users. Of course, those people who want the latest features will have to stick with the trunk. I’ve not seen any problems with the trunk so far, but I guess that some of the upcoming changes (for example, adding scripting) have some risk of problems.

EPS graphics with PDF(La)TeX

One issue a lot of people find confusing with (La)TeX is the rules about which types of graphic files work with which engines. EPS files are fine when going via the DVI route, but do not work with direct PDF creation. The solution is to turn the EPS files in PDFs, and the problem goes away. However, there is then the question of how to do the conversion.

For most documents, having to convert every file by hand is not a sensible choice. The next nearest thing is the epstopdf package, which will do the same thing but from within a LaTeX run. However, it needs \write18 enabled, and this is not always desirable. More importantly, a lot of people who struggle with the graphics problem do not know how to turn on \write18 anyway. A good way around has been added to the latest version of TeX Live, which is currently in the final testing stages. TeX Live 2009 has some restricted \write18 functions enabled as standard, and also has a version of epstopdf “built in”. The result is that EPS files are automatically converted to PDF files, in a transparent manner. Of course, this only happens if the PDF does not also exist! At the moment, this feature is not in MiKTeX 2.8, so it is one reason to favour TeX Live 2009 even on Windows.

There are places where epstopdf will not help: for example, when using psfrag or pstricks. There, the best solution will either be auto-pst-pdf or pstool. Both are written by Will Robertson, and both need \write18 enabled to work. pstool is more efficient (it only re-creates graphics as needed), but for some cases on auto-pst-pdt will work. Will has documented both packages very well, so the best way to learn about them is to have a read of the documentation.

notes2bib two

I’ve just send a new version of my notes2bib package to CTAN. notes2bib lets you include the text of notes in the body of a file, but have them appear in the bibliography: for chemists, this is pretty common. The new version is a re-working of the existing code plus some ideas I explored with an experimental version called xnotes2bib. I’ve re-jigged the options to make them more descriptive, and some of the macros have been renamed. My original choices were not always the best. The biggest change, though, is internally, where I’ve recoded everything using expl3, the coding base for LaTeX3. That means that users will need to install a couple of support packages, but I hope means that the code should make a bit more sense (at least to me!). The only way expl3 will get tested is if people use is, so I’m prepared to have a go and hope everything works. So far, all looks good.

LaTeX2e updates

If you browse the CTAN repositories, you’ll find that a number of the LaTeX core files have recently been updated. The team have had a small number of bug fixes in the code for a while, but for various reasons no release had been made. The idea is to get all of them out into the public release code, which hopefully will be done very soon (I think it actually is done, but I’m not 100% sure!).

Troubles with propriety documents

This post isn’t about TeX, really, but relates to why I prefer to use TeX to other systems. I’ve recently bought a MacBook, so that I can run Unix software in addition to Windows things. For work, I need Windows, whereas outside of work it does not really matter what I use (everything is cross-platform).

One particular issue for me is Microsoft Word. When writing papers at work, things have to be done in Word. My boss is never going to understand anything else, and most journals only take Word submissions. A lot of people will think “why not use OpenOffice?”. Unfortunately, there are a few things that Word can do that OpenOffice cannot. One is handle pasted ChemDraw diagrams properly. If you paste them into a Word file using Word on Windows, they can be edited after saving and moving the file about. That is not the case for OpenOffice. As a chemist, ChemDraw is a must, and so I have to be able to run Word. A pain, but that is how it is.

All went well with the new Mac until I tried to open some Word files. Thy open fine, but I can’t edit the ChemDraw’s. A quick look at the support site reveals this is a known issue. It seems Microsoft have changed Word on the Mac so it looses the all-important data for editing the diagrams: disaster. The people who write ChemDraw can do nothing about this, and since Word files are not documented there is nothing much that anyone outside Microsoft can do. The result: I’ll have to install Office for Windows on my Mac!

TeX Live 2009 nearly ready

Karl Berry sent a message to the TeX Live mailing list last night, saying that things are almost in place for a release. I’ve been trying TeX Live 2009 on my Windows system, and also on my new MacBook (as part of MacTeX 2009). It looks very stable on both systems. It seems a fair bet that it works well on Linux too (I’ll probably set it up on Ubuntu once it is released). There is just some work left to do on translations, apparently, so the code itself is probably representative of the release version.

The ability to update on-line means that the release to DVD is not as critical as it was in the past. However, it is still something of a marker in the TeX community.

siunitx v1.3

I’ve just released version 1.3 of siunitx to CTAN. Although the changes are not large in number, they are important. First, I’ve altered the default code for \micro (μ), as the previous version did not look great: an important change, hence the bump of version number. Second, the packaging has been altered to make life easier all round. You can now extract the package and typeset in one go from the .dtx file using LaTeX, or just extract it using TeX. Overall, the effect is much cleaner than the old version. Of course, there are some bug fixes too.


There have been a few questions recently on the MiKTeX list about the answers package. It has been removed from version 2.8, and this turns out to be because of the license it has. Although the original author is no longer about in the TeX community, he did leave the CTAN maintainers with the power to re-assign the package. So I’ve taken over, which mainly means altering the license to the LPPL. So hopefully answers will re-appear in TeX distributions soon.

biblatex-chem update

I’ve just spotted a bug in biblatex-chem, and a fix is on the way to CTAN. It looks like changes in the biblatex core have made the comma after journal titles when using the chem-rsc style disappear. This was working earlier: I’ve retested an old version and it is not due to anything I’ve done.

On another matter, I’ve been asked to look at turning page ranges into single pages in biblatex-chem. I need to add the appropriate functions to biblatex, so there may be a delay (I have lots on at the moment). It is definitely on my list to do. Why do this? Well, some journals insist on first-page only, but in a database both pages will be present. So the code needs to handle things. There should be another update once I sort this: a few days.