Re: Documentation (was Re: [OS X TeX] Kanbun (漢文) and French...)
schremmer.alain at gmail.com
Sun Jan 4 09:30:04 EST 2009
On Jan 4, 2009, at 1:39 AM, Jean-Christophe Helary wrote:
> On dimanche 04 janv. 09, at 14:00, Alain Schremmer wrote:
(tha's a funny mix)
Basically, of course, you are 100% correct and so was Ross'
> Well, I see you are frustrated by (La)TeX. Welcome to the club.
In particular I suppose that, indeed,
> They probably have macros that convert "properly" typed French to
> those escape sequences
Even though we never stopped speaking French at home, I rarely write
in French and never French in LaTeX. So, last night, I tried. I was
wrong and you are right.
But the question is much larger than that and, in fact, is perhaps
THE fundamental question in Open Source.
A few years ago, I started using Carsten Heinz's polynom.sty for long
division but it does not do long division in ascending order and so I
wrote to Heinz but it eventually seemed that Heinz had disappeared
from the face of the earth. polynom was eventually taken over as a
maintainer by Hendri Adriaens who explained to me that he couldn't do
any developmental work on it because "It redefined some internal of
keyval, making it crash with any package using xkeyval."
But the problem is even deeper than that.
A very long time ago, I developed a text as a substitute for an intro
course at my school. A number of people there used it but one said
"The new one is not perfect and so I will continue to use the old
one"—the irony of course being that the old one was terrible. At the
time, the term "open source" had a long time before it would even be
coined and it didn't occur to any of us that the colleague could have
tried to improve the text and I had other things to do. But even now
that open source exists, things remain the same. It is usually
difficult to get people to work collaboratively on open source and
the utter truth is the Hestenes dictum:
"Early in my career, I naively thought that if you give a good idea
to competent mathematicians or physicists,they will work out its
implications for themselves. I have learned since that most of them
need the implications spelled out in utter detail."
And the reflex is still with us: "It is not perfect" —sometimes far
from it, but then the question is "who is going to make it so?"
Obviously not the user who barely understands the package enough to
use it. Obviously not the creator who wants to create some more.
As far as I know—but I don't really know much in this case, XeTeX is
the work of only a very, very few people. Obviously, being aware of
all that there is to do on XeTeX, the documentation is not foremost
in their mind. And, by the way, that too is a general problem.
When I started with LaTeX, a few years ago, in English, just getting
an installation took me several very painful weeks. (It had been so
painful that I got incensed at an "introductory" article in PracTeX
and wrote to the Editor … who deftly conned me in writing one
myself.) And, today, there is MacTeX.
So, things do change for the better and even documentation issue
might have found a solution with the wiki in that this might be where
people might place the result of their own experiences and where
incrementation would make it that the wheel would not have to be
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