[OS X TeX] Re: Save date-time, not Print date

Maarten Sneep maarten.sneep at xs4all.nl
Sun Jan 7 11:16:34 EST 2007

On 7-jan-2007, at 16:45, Douglas Philips wrote:

> Not to pick on Maarten or anyone else who has posted suggestions on  
> how to "work around" to get this to work, but all of those things  
> are work-arounds...
> I desperately, desperately hope this is something that has been  
> added, or is add-able, in LuaTeX.

I don't know for certain, but I'm quite confident that it will be.

> Maybe I want to know the date that the document was typeset...  
> \date works fine for that.
> Maybe I want to know the date of the .tex file that was typeset...  
> <hack-a-rundums abound>.
> How is it that \date is integral to beautiful typesetting and  
> \modificationTimeOfThisFile isn't?
> Oh. Right. Not related at all.

You're right, but (and I realize that this is hardly an excuse at  
all) at the time TeX originated, many of the file system metadada  
interfaces were not very well established. That it was added at  
version 1.30 of pdftex is quite a bit later than the establishment of  
those interfaces (that is an understatement). (I can't find the  
suggestion made by Heiko, but I assume he uses some pdftex primitive).

> Many many aspects of TeX have everything to do with the state of  
> computer hardware and software when TeX was written. Stuff that has  
> nothing to do with beautiful typesetting, or with coherent document  
> structure or writing.

Having access to the dates has nothing to do with typesetting, but is  
relevant to both structure and writing. And has caused confusion in  
the past, as is documented in the Google archive of comp.text.tex (I  
can't recall which package it was, but there the last save date would  
have removed a lot of confusion).

> None-the-less TeX is stuck in that past.
> (Repeat prayers for LuaTeX)...

Yup, I agree. Part of that is puritan behaviour of some TeX  
developers and distribution maintainers, part of it is the license to  
the original TeX, which made adding these kinds of primitives harder  
than it should have been. Yes, tex will move forward, and development  
is progressing in two fronts: LuaTeX and XeTeX, in two different  
ways. Interesting times are ahead, to say the least, with both aiming  
for full unicode and opentype support, and LuaTeX giving an extra  
scripting engine (with a sane syntax). XeTeX gives easier access to  
system font libraries, so have what you want (all? eh, wait a minute).

Now, while I agree with you on the fact that these are all hacks, I  
maintain that for serious writing of large and possibly important  
document, a version control system is essential. That that is no  
hack, but the choice to use it should be unrelated to the issue that  
started this thread.


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