The TeX Frequently Asked Question List: New hosting

The TeX Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) List has been a fixture of the TeX world for many years. It started out as a regular column in the (now dormant) UK-TUG journal Baskerville, before being taken up as an essentially one-person project by Robin Fairbairns.

Since Robin’s retirement, the FAQ have remained available online but essentially maintenance has been ‘in hibernation’. That’s largely because the structure of the sources was tricky: they were designed to be typeset and to give HTML output following scripted conversion. For the ‘new’ team (currently David Carlisle, Stefan Kottwitz, Karl Berry and me) looking after the material, that’s been tricky as we are not editing the sources directly on the server (Robin’s old set up).

To keep the FAQ up-to-date and easy-to-maintain, the sources have been converted to Markdown to allow them to be used in a GitHub Pages set up. The traditional http://www.tex.ac.uk website now redirects to texfaq.org, which will be the canonical site address. You can also go ‘directly’ to the GitHub Pages site, texfaq.github.io. (There are a few final adjustments to make, so at the moment you might get redirected from texfaq.org to texfaq.github.io.)

The aim remains to have a curated set of FAQ, not growing too big and staying authoritative. Of course, the core team appreciate help making that the case: you can access the material on GitHub to log issues or make suggestions for change.

The UK List of TeX Frequently Asked Questions

The list of TeX Frequently Asked Question is one of the most useful online resources for TeX users. Since the list was first published some years ago by UK-TUG it’s grown to include over 400 questions and answers. Most of the work has been done by one person, Robin Fairbairns. Robin’s contributions to the TeX community, both in maintaining the FAQ and running one of the three core CTAN nodes, are really vital to all TeX users.

At the moment, there’s a thread on comp.text.tex where the subject of adding new information to the FAQ has been mentioned. Getting new material (for the FAQ or anything else) is always a problem, and so most of the text in teh FAQ is written by Robin. That’s a lot to do for one busy person, and we all need to play our part. The question is hoe to do that. The advantage of having one person writing everything is that the quality is good, and there is care taken to keep material up to date. So if you spot a gap, your best sending some (good) text as detailed in the FAQ itself. One suggestion that’s come up is setting up a wiki, with the idea being that contributions there can then be used as ‘source’ for adding to the FAQ. Time will tell if this comes to pass: it might be interesting, but I suspect the same people will still be doing the writing!