[OS X TeX] Re: tex-optimized alpha?

Joachim Kock kock at math1.unice.fr
Sun Aug 4 07:44:37 EDT 2002

>  under OS 9 i used alpha to only edit my tex documents and i loved it.
>  my fondness increased dramatically, when some fellow user send me a
>  stripped-down version of alpha that was optimized for tex editing --
>  all unnecessary menus and items were gone, only that what you
>  *really* needed to work on tex documents was left standing.
>  unfortunately, i am not able to code tcl.

'What you *really* need' is difficult to define --- 30 years ago people
wrote good math papers without even having TeX!  And there are still
people who write their TeX code in simplistic editors like SimpleText
in OS9 or TextEdit in OSX.

I understand the dream of having a specialised TeX editor with exactly
the functionality you need, and nothing more.  However, it is even more
desirable to have a flexible all-purpose editor you can tweak to get
what you want (i.e. Alpha or emacs), and with the concept of modes, it
should be possible to be specialised at the same time...

At the risk of being provocative I would say that what you really need
is to learn some basic Tcl!  *This* is really going to dramatically
increase your fondness for Alpha.  This is really what puts Alpha (and
emacs) in a class above other editors: with a few lines of Tcl code
in your prefs file you can fine tune Alpha and get it just as you
want.  Everybody has different needs; some people import fancy pdf files
all the time, others write certain big tables on every page.  In either
way:  if you can understand the complicated TeX syntax needed to do this,

      * & * & *  \notag \\[2mm]
      \multicolumn{2}{@{}c@{}}{ * } & * \\[2mm]
      \cline{1-2} &
      \label{tab211} \relax

then you can very quickly learn to understand also a piece of Tcl code
like this:

    proc insertMyFavouriteTable {} {
      insertText "<here goes the text you want to insert, basically>"

    Bind F5 <c> insertMyFavouriteTable

which you could put in your prefs file, and voila! now you can insert all
those tables with a simple Cmd-F5 stroke!  Of course this is a rather
stupid example --- I just want to stress that TeX is already fancy
programming, and once we admit the usefulness of this programming, why
not also use some programming to assist us with the writing and typing?
And once we unleash this power, why use it only for TeX typing?  it is
useful for any text editing and text processing: use Tcl to take control
over the text part of your life! --- but now I am certainly running off

Sorry for being long.


Joachim KOCK
Laboratoire de Mathématiques J.A.Dieudonné    Tél.  +33
Université de Nice Sophia-Antipolis           Fax   +33
Parc Valrose - 06108 Nice cédex 2 - FRANCE    Mél.  kock at math.unice.fr

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