Going beyond TeX (was Re: [OS X TeX] Using OTF-fonts for TeX)

William Adams will.adams at frycomm.com
Tue May 16 07:39:24 EDT 2006

On May 16, 2006, at 3:17 AM, Bruno Voisin wrote:

> Won't go beyond version ¹, I'm afraid: Knuth, being a mathematician  
> and mischievous at heart, has decided that version numbers for TeX  
> would converge towards ¹, and for METAFONT towards e.
> Of no importance truly, but I couldn't resist either!

Actually, it's very important to realize that TeX in-and-of-itself is  
firmly rooted in an old-style of text handling, and while there have  
been really amazing projects extending it (Omega, pdftex, XeTeX)  
there are a lot of fundamental architectural difficulties (see a  
recent thread on this on usenet:comp.text.tex, also the recent  
discussion of LaTeX font warnings on the XeTeX list and the  
pointlessness of a utfenc.def file for XeTeX).

That said, I still expect to be using LaTeX (especially pdflatex and  
xelatex) for a long while now, and am actually working at work to  
convert a journal over from being done in Quark to being done in  
XeLaTeX, since I've finally convinced them that it's not reasonable  
to expect a 48hr. turn-around on ~100 pgs. being done in an  
application which:

1 - crashes regularly,
2 - produces ~150MB source files for each section ('cause of the  
embedded graphics previews) and
3 - which is so primitive in its text handling requires manual  
intervention throughout to get decent text
4 - requires manually pasting in every bullet 'cause there's no  
option to automatically set them in the right place
5 - requires manual intervention for every switch from one- to two- 
column mode and back
6 - requires manually placing every decorative graphic behind every  
section head
7 - requires setting the font for every mathematics character (this  
is mostly automated in WordBASIC, but still a nuisance, esp. when one  
falls in a line at the top of a column and must be adjusted for  
baseline placement 'cause Agfa Mathematical Pi has a different em- 
square than Adobe Garamond)
8 - requires pasting in manually every special symbol to indicate an  
article's on-line status
9 - requires a user to measure the space on the front page of every  
section and determine if there's room for a decorative computer  
graphic and if there is, which one.
10 - requires manually pulling in every bit of placed art --- this we  
could fix if we'd get Em Software's xData XTension

and probably some other things I'm not remembering now. InDesign  
partisans please note that it would only help with items 1 and 3,  
maybe 4 if I set all the text styles 'cept for the bulleted ones to  
be slightly indented and make the columns artificially wider to  
accommodate the ``outdenting'' of the bullets... hmm, that would  
probably work in Quark too.... and maybe 10, or we'd have to get Em  
Software's ``InData''.


William Adams
senior graphic designer
Fry Communications

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