TUG2018: Day three

The final day of TUG2018 followed the conference banquet, which of course meant that there were a few tired (or missing!) delegates.

Before coffee

The first talk of the day came from S. K. Venkatesan, focussing on his WeTeX tool, and the link to countability of computing problems.

We then moved to Paulo Cereda (on behalf of Susanne Raab), looking at the TikZducks package. He started by pointing out that whilst drawing ducks is fun, there is serious coding behind it. He showed us a range of examples of how keyval settings allow a wide range of (wacky) customisation of duck drawings. A particular highlight was rendering of Don Knuth as a TikZduck.

After the break

Once we’d all refuelled, Jaeyoung Choi took up the podium to describe work on using MetaFont directly inside FreeType. He laid out the advantages of MetaFont, and the problems for use by font designers. He then moved to look at the particular challenges faced in developing CJK fonts: the very large number of characters, and resulting significant time/cost investment required. With modern computing power, this can be solved using MetaFont to parametrise this large number of glyphs. Jaeyoung demonstrated a GUI which allows control of the appearance of characters in an (almost) interactive way. He then moved on to look at how to integrate MetaFont directly into the TrueType rasteriser.

The final talk came from Will Robertson on fontspec and unicode-math. He started by showing us some issues in the fonts in books for children, before looking over unicode-math. He showed how it handles complex maths, allowing re-use of copied material and changing the style of output. He then looked at the development approach he’s taken in ‘cleaning up’ unicode-math and fontspec. He covered various aspects of the expl3/l3build/Git(Hub) workflow he’s now perfected. He then moved on to fontspec, talking about the background, current interfaces and possible future developments. It was great final talk: wide-ranging, thought-provoking and fun.

With the formal business done, we headed to the roof of IMPA for the traditional conference photography. After a lunch break, it was off for most of us to the excursion to Sugarloaf Mountain, and the end of the meeting proper.

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.

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.

TUG2018 Preview

The TUG2018 meeting starts tomorrow in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, and the delegates have begun to collect together (many of us are staying at the Everst Rio Hotel). I’ll be trying to write up notes each day to summarise the talks, discussions, etc., but you’ll also be able to watch live. There’s also a chat room on TeX StackExchange dedicated to the meeting.

Informal discussions are already ongoing (the LaTeX team members have been hard at it since breakfast), so it should be a productive time.