Some TeX Developments

TUG2018: Day Two

The second day of TUG2018 picked up with a few announcements for those us here at IMPA, before we moved on to the business end.

Early morning session

Frank Mittelbach started the day’s proceedings, talking about his doc package for literate programming. He explained the background, what works and more importantly what didn’t. The success of doc as a standard make change challenging, but at the same time there is a need for updates. He then laid out goals for a new version: back-compatibility, new mark-up and out-of-the-box hyperref support. He showed us the features for creating new mark up. There are some wrinkles, for example that hyperref support still has to be manually activated. Frank wrapped up by pointing to the testing version, and gave us a likely release date (for TL’19).

I then gave my first talk of the day, looking at expl3 concepts related to colour and graphics. I outlined the LaTeX2e background, what is happening with the LaTeX2e drivers and then moved on to my expl3 experiments. First I talked about colo(u)r, and the idea of colour expressions as introduced by xcolor. These are trivial to work out in expl3 due to the expandable FPU we have. I then looked at creating graphics, particularly how I’ve been inspired by pgf/TikZ. I showed how I’ve used the fact that pgf has a clear structure, and mapped that to expl3 concepts. I showed some examples of the existing drawing set up, and where I’ll be going next.

After coffee

We returned after coffee for a short talk from Boris Veytsman on tackling an apparently simple issue: putting leaders level with the first line of a long title! He showed that this is a non-trivial requirement, and how as a contractor he has to explain this to his customers. He then showed how he solved the issue, leading to a lively discussion about other possible approaches.

I then came back for my second talk of the day, I talked about siunitx. I started by explaining the history of the package, starting with the initial comp.text.tex post that led to its creation. I outlined the core features, present from version 1, and why I’ve re-written now twice. I finished by promising a first alpha version of version 3: that’s available here.

Frank then returned for a morning of symmetry, talking about compatibility requirements. He talked about the historical situation, starting from Knuth’s introduction of TeX and taking us through the development of LaTeX, PDF support and Unicode engines. He then moved on to look at the LaTeX2e approach to compatibility, starting with the 1994 approach, fixltx2e. He explained how that was intended to work, and why it didn’t. The new approach, latexrelease, tackles the same problems but starts with the idea that it applies to both the kernel and to packages. Frank covered the idea of rollback in packages, and how this works at the user and developer levels. Frank finished off with some thoughts about the future, and the fact that most new users probably pick up these ideas without issue.

After lunch

Our conference Chair, Paulo Ney de Souza, took the first slot after lunch to speak about how he’s approached a major challenge, managing the abstracts for the upcoming ICM2018 meeting. His talked ranged over topics such as citation formatting, small device output, production workflows and dealing with author preambles. He covered the wide range of tools his team have assembled to automate PDF creation from a heterogeneous set of sources. His wide-ranging talk was a tour de force in automated publication.

After a brief break, we moved to Tom Hejda (who TeX-sx users know as yo’), on his tool yoin. He explained that his current workflow for producing journal issues is currently a mix of a range of tools, and this is likely not long-term sustainable. He then moved to showing how yoin can be used to compile both the master file for an issue and, as required, each article within it.

The last talk of the day was from Joachim Heinze, formerly of Springer. He talked about journal publishing, and how online accessibility of publications has changed the landscape for publishers. He gave an entertaining look into this world, posing the question ‘Where is the information we have lost in data?’.

With the formal business done, some of the group remained at IMPA for a workshop on R and Knitr, led by Boris Veytsman. Later, we all met up again for the conference dinner at Rubaiyat Rio.