## Mathmode

’I had an e-mail recently pointing out that I don’t say much about TeX’s mathmode in my blog. I guess that this is mainly because as a chemist I don’t do anything particularly advanced. So things like

\begin{document}
\usepackage{fixltx2e} % $$and$$ are not robust otherwise
\begin{document}
$$y = mx + c$$
\end{document}

are really as complex as I ever need to go!

Of course, occasionally I need to look something more complex up. I think like most people I tend to reach for the excellent Math Mode by Herbert Voß. The basic advice I tend to remember is to load the amsmath package, as it does ‘lots of clever stuff’!

## Places for questions (again)

I posted recently about a new site being set up for TeX questions: tex.stackexchange.com. This is developing nicely, I think, and there is already a good set of questions and answers. The aim of the site is to be something that mixes the best of forums, wikis and so on, with the key idea being that the quality and relevance of both questions and answers is rated by the community. This is a bit different to more traditional support routes, such as comp.text.tex, but does have its advantages. For example, if you’re a new user you get a sense of which answers are worth reading and hopefully why. I should add that I’ve volunteered as a moderator, at least for the beta phase of the site!

Of course, this is not the only place to go for support. For LaTeX users, forums such as The LaTeX Community or GoLaTeX (in German) are an increasingly popular destinations. In my inbox recently I had an e-mail from another potential support site, Equalis. This is a maths-focused community, with a set of forums including one for LaTeX. I’m all for there being a variety of places to look for help, and I’m very excited that there is the interest in these new TeX-related sites. Will Equalis get the following it needs to be a success? I’m not sure, but the only way for it to have a chance is for people to take a look!

## A new place for TeX questions

Some readers will have come across the popular Stack Overflow, a site for asking programmers questions.  For those who haven’t, it’s based on the idea that users can give feedback on answers to questions, and that this leads to ‘reputation’ for contributors. So the idea is that good questions are easy to find, hopefully with reasons why they are good answers.

TeX and LaTeX questions pop up there from time to time, some of which are programming-related and others which don’t fit quite so well. The Stack Overflow people are keen to expand, and so there has been a move to set up a TeX-related spin-off. This has been in ‘private beta’ for a week, which means that people who were interested have been setting up some questions and answers to get the site working. It’s now moved to ‘public beta’, so anyone can register and ask (or answer) questions: tex.stackexchange.com.

What happens next depends on take-up from the wider world. If the site proves to be popular then the Stack Overflow people will look to set up a ‘production’ version, which will need a domain name of its own, design and the like. So if you like the idea, get involved during the beta phase and help make things a success. As you might guess, I’m answering the questions that I can. Don’t worry, though, as I’m not going to abandon any other outlets. I’m very much in favour of there being a variety of places to go for help.

## Update

There seems to be a slight delay in getting the public beta going: the information says ‘soon’! I guess it may be a day or so while the Stack Overflow people make decisions on moving to public beta status.

## Update 2

I’ve just received an e-mail saying that things should now be open to the public.