TUG2018: Day one

Most of the foreign delegates for TUG2018 met up by last night at the conference hotel, and chats over breakfast continued. Then it was down to the minibus to head to the venue, IMPA.

Opening session

After a brief introduction from the conference chair, Paulo Ney de Souza, the floor was handed to Roberto Ierusalimschy to start us with a bang: an overview of Lua development. He gave us an insight into how Lua grew from early beginnings, and how it got picked up by games developers: a really big part of Lua’s importance. He then gave us an insight into the two key aspects of Lua’s success: the ability to embed and extend the language. That’s led to Lua being embedded in a range of applications, particularly games but also devices as varied as cars and routers. We had a lively question session, ranging from Unicode support to what might have been done differently.

We then moved on to Eduardo Ochs, talking about using Lua as a pre-parser to convert ‘ASCII art’ into complex mathematical diagrams. He explained the pre-history: the origin of the ASCII art as comments to help understand complex TeX code! After a summary of the original pre-processor, he showed how using Lua(TeX), the processing can be done in-line in the file with no true pre-processing step. He showed how this can be set up in an extensible and powerful way.

Morning post-coffee

After the coffee break (plus cake), we reconvened for three talks. Mico Loretan started focussing on his package selnolig. He started by showing us examples of ‘unfortunate’ ligatures in English words, and how they can appear when suppressed by babel and by selnolig. He then focussed in on the detail: what a ligature is, why they are needed and how different fonts provide them. He moved on to detail why you need to suppress ligatures, in particular where they cross morpheme boundaries. Mico then gave us a very useful summary of how the linguistics work here and how they need to link to typography. After showing us the issues with other approaches, he moved on to detail of how selnolig uses LuaTeX callbacks to influence ligatures ‘late’ in processing. His rule-based interface means that ligatures can be suppressed for whole classes of words.

I spoke next, focussing on l3build. I gave a brief overview of LaTeX testing, from the earliest days of the team to the current day. I covered why we’ve picked Lua for our current testing set-up, what works and what (currently) doesn’t.

Paulo Cereda then talked about his build tool, arara. He started with an overview of other tools, before explaining how arara is different: it’s a ‘no-guesswork’ approach. He showed us the core, simple, syntax, before moving on to a timeline of releases to date. He summed up the new features in version 4.0, before moving to a series of live demonstrations. These started with simple ideas and moved on to new, complex ideas such as conditionals and taking user input. He then finished by looking to the future, both of arara and of araras (parrots).

After lunch

We started back after lunch with a couple of slides from Barbara Beeton, sadly absent from the meeting, presented by TUG President Boris Veytsman.

Will Robertson then took the podium. He started with some non-TeX thoughts on questions he gets as an Australian. His koala pictures were particularly fun. His talk then moved to his work with the Learning Management System (LMS) used by his employer. This system (Canvas) has a programmable API for controlling information made available to students. He laid out the issues with the documentation he had: a very large, unmaintainable word processing document. Will talked about various tools for creating HTML from LaTeX, the workflow he has chosen, and then showed more detail on the system he is using, LaTeXML. He then expanded on how using LaTeXML plus scripting, he can populate the LMS in a (semi)automated way, making his work more efficient.

The second speaker in the ‘Australian panel’ session was Ross Moore. Ross started with a demo of why tagging PDFs is needed: making the information accessible not just to people but widely to the computer, to allow re-use in alternative views. He expanded on the drivers for this, in particular legal requirements for accessible documents.

After afternoon break

Our next talk came in remotely from Sandro Coriasco. He started by outlining the team involved in this work, focussed on making material accessible to the blind. The aim of their work has been targetted at mathematical formula, generating ‘actual text’ which can then be used by screen readers or similar. He then showed that this makes additional useful information available to e.g. screen readers.

We then had a non-TeX talk: Doris Behrendt on GDPR. She started by looking at the EU Official Journal on the GDPR, and we had an excursion into the font used for typesetting (Albertina). She then gave details of the regulations, along with a number of extremely amusing examples of how people have approached them.

Presentations over, the TUG AGM took place, concluding the formal business of the day.

3 thoughts on “TUG2018: Day one

  1. Will videos be available? Would love to know how l3 is coming along, explained in a way that mortals like me can understand.

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