The virtual TeX guru (was Re: [OS X TeX] TeX is not for the faint of heart)

Jérôme Laurens jerome.laurens at
Thu May 6 10:15:23 EDT 2004

Le 6 mai 04, à 15:12, William F. Adams a écrit :

> On Thursday, May 6, 2004, at 08:51  AM, Jérôme Laurens wrote:
>> The documentation concerns
>> - what command should I use to perform this?
>> - conversely, what is the effect of this command?
>> - how do I use this command?
>> The first point is the most important one for beginners. In general, 
>> they will find the information in books, TeX catalog online, LaTeX 
>> Help, ... , but unfortunately, the best location still remains a TeX 
>> guru.
>> May be a dynamic, searchable, electronic TeX companion would be great 
>> as virtual TeX guru. This would be a big data base organized in clear 
>> sections, such that for example LaTeX->Math->Systems would let me to 
>> a page where basic LaTeX capabilities are gathered with PDF output 
>> and source code extracts and access to related packages 
>> documentation.
>> I just take a look at the PDF and if it fits my need I just click a 
>> button et voilà, the correct code is inserted in my favourite LaTeX 
>> editor.
>> I told a few words about this idea at EuroTeX 2003, but got no 
>> feedback.
>> It seems to me that some people in Germany have a similar project but 
>> I cannot find it anymore.
> Graham Williams has done a _lot_ of work on his Catalogue for CTAN.
> As I've noted in the past, I've been _very_ successful in finding the 
> answer to almost every TeX-related query I've had using

So did I, but it is just an internet TeX guru,
FYI i am not connected to the internet at home, and I am not the only 

> and was even able to complete all aspects of the formatting of 
> _Introduction to Scientific Computing_ using the FAQ, printed copies 
> of the Booktab and some other docs and searching the above archive.

The problems are
- printing
- it can take too much time to get the answer
- in general you know where to look for some information because you 
already read the doc
- you cannot carry every book/doc when you are travelling with your 

> It would be nice if there were a more formulaic, task-oriented bit of 
> documentation, and I've often opined that Graham's Catalogue would do 
> well to change along those lines, but there aren't that many questions 
> in the TeX world these days which haven't been asked already (and the 
> vast majority of those have been answered affirmatively).

The problem is not if some question has ever been asked/answered but 
"where will I find the answer to my question".
Graham's TCO is of limited help, just try to find out information about 
multiple integrals, you will see what I mean.
In that case, time and language are our ennemies.

> There's a new, up-dated _The LaTeX Companion_, and some of its 
> proceeds goes toward funding LaTeX3 --- what more could a typical 
> LaTeX user want?

a dynamic, searchable, electronic TeX companion

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