siunitx v2.2 released

As I detailed a little while ago, I’ve been working on v2.2 of siunitx. I’ve now released the latest version, v2.2, to CTAN. There are a number of small changes, introducing new features, but I thought I would highlight a few.

A long-standing feature request has been to be able to use the cancel package to show how units cancel out. This is useful for teaching, although it’s not of course part of the usual typesetting of units for publication. It turns out not to be too hard to allow this, so that you can now use input such as

\si[per-mode = fraction]{\cancel\kg\m\per\s\cancel\kg}

and have it come out properly. At the same time, I’ve made it possible to highlight particular units

\si{\highlight{green}\square\metre\candela\second}

again for teaching-related purposes.

A second long-standing request is to be able to parse uncertainties given in the form

\num{1.23 +- 0.15}

which was something more of challenge, but again is now working properly. So you can get the same output from the above and from

\num{1.23(15)}.

A final highlight is the new \tablenum macro. This is needed for aligning numbers inside \multicolumn and \multirow, which otherwise does not work. (At a technical level, both \multicolumn and \mutirow use the \omit primitive, and so the code inserted by the S column is not used. The \tablenum macro effectively makes the same approach available as a stand-alone function.)

LaTeX Beginner’s Guide published

A new guide for LaTeX beginners has just been published by Packt Publishing. Written by Stefan Kottwitz (of TeXblog fame), it’s a very hands-on  approach to teaching LaTeX. The book is filled with examples, and makes use of modern packages, editors and so on. Stefan has put a summary of the contents on his blog.

I saw the book before publication, so had an opportunity to make some suggestions. In general, Stefan’s done a great job and it is a very readable and accessible guide The style is very much meant to be like a conversation with a knowledgeable friend, and I think this works really well.

However, there is a problem. The examples of LaTeX output in the book are poor: they’ve come out as low-resolution JPEGs. This really detracts from the a key point of using LaTeX in the first place: good-looking output. That’s a shame, as if you picked up the book not knowing much about LaTeX you’d take one look at the output and think it was awful.

Overall, I can recommend the content book for helping new users, but with the warning ‘the real output from LaTeX looks much better than in the book’. So one to use as a complement to other texts, rather than alone.