Some TeX Developments

Talking about units

Usually, I keep my day job (as a university lecturer in chemistry) and my LaTeX work separate. Of course, I use LaTeX at work for things like lecture handouts, but most of the time the two areas don’t directly intersect.

So it was quite interesting to be talking yesterday at a chemistry conference (the ACS Fall 2021 Meeting) about siunitx. I’d been invited by Stuart Chalk to a session on units and data reuse: much more like metrology/computer science than my usual day-to-day wet chemistry!

It was good to see that many of the things I do in siunitx fit into wider efforts by people who do day-to-day work on units. The idea of logical mark-up for unit input, the ability to decompose units into parts and the realities of less-than-ideal input from users were all there. Hopefully, siunitx will help with the work being done by groups such as DRUM (Digital Representation of Units of Measure) to make information more computer-readable. I’ll also be looking at QUDT for inspiration about the real technical detail of the myriad of units in real use.

I also managed to get in a few comments about some LaTeX work that’s important for data reuse more widely: tagged PDFs and tex4ht. So it was a pretty productive use of an evening!