[OS X TeX] Programming literature: "Hilbert Curves"

William Adams will.adams at frycomm.com
Tue Jun 25 09:26:12 EDT 2019

At last! A worthy successor to:

Really looking forward to your presentation!


On Mon, Jun 24, 2019 at 8:47 PM Doug McKenna <doug at mathemaesthetics.com>

> Well, what a long and strange trip (test) it's been!
> After many years of both concentrated and sporadic efforts on a variety of
> fronts, my combined application and/or electronic book ("Hilbert Curves"
> and/or "Outside-In and Inside-Gone") is now available (for $8) in Apple's
> App Store for Apple's iPad (and iPhone, but more screen real estate is
> better).
> Of interest to readers of this list, this app/book is, I believe, a first:
> it is self-typesetting on the user's device from TeX source code.  See <
> http://www.mathemaesthetics.com/HilbertCurves.html> for a few screen
> shots.  The typeset math of course looks great, though it is not very
> complicated (high-school level).
> The app contains its own high-performance TeX-language interpreter, which
> I've been calling JSBox.  The TUGboat article I wrote a while back on how
> it traces itself is here:
> <https://tug.org/TUGboat/tb35-2/tb110mckenna.pdf>
> (although in this dedicated eBook's case, none of the tracing code is ever
> needed, so all the tracing code is conditionally compiled out to save quite
> a lot of space).
> JSBox is a from-the-ground-up rewrite of TeX/e-TeX's engine, but
> (currently) without any of the back-end primitives for various types of
> import/export of PDF data.  JSBox is not open source (maybe some day).  It
> is a static library written in C that is designed to be incorporated into
> any other piece of software, such as an iOS or Mac or other GUI application
> that simulates a document of pages with illustrations.
> Lots of work still to be done on it, but I had to get this
> proof-of-concept eBook/app done before continuing.  With respect to this
> TeX language interpreter's development, I'm still in what's technically
> called the "eating your own dog food" phase.  Sales of my app/eBook will
> help support further work on JSBox, especially getting LaTeX and the TDS
> working with it.
> Under the hood, each time this iOS application launches, the 160-page
> simulated book (pages are logically 8.5" by 18"), with its 135+
> non-file-based illustrations, is typeset anew, in under a half-second.  The
> book's TeX source code starts by reading and executing a copy of the
> "plain.tex" macros, followed by the "opmac.tex" (Olsak's Plain Macros)
> lightweight markup library (with some added override hacks), and another
> related file of math symbol definitions.  There is no format initialization
> relied upon, needed, or desired.  The glyphs and metrics used are from
> Computer Modern.  And when the job is done, all the TeX layout data
> structures remain in memory for every page, for later use by the app.
> The point of it all, over and above the intellectual exercise, was to do
> an end-run around all static illustration files, most of which are
> inadequate for my eBook's topic of interest: space-filling curve
> illustrations each comprising self-avoiding paths of literally
> (numerically?) tens of millions of tiny line segments in each picture.
> Every illustration is resolution-independent and zoom-able up to about
> 300x.  There are no accompanying EPSF, PDF, SVG, or MOV illustration
> files.  The app's code is in charge of drawing (and in some cases,
> animating) each illustration into its anointed reserved box space on a page.
> Most illustrations have a set of interactive controls to allow the
> user/reader to play with various graphic or other parameters.  One
> particular illustration comprises over 77,000 sub-illustrations (a complete
> enumeration of all possibilities from which the user/reader chooses).
> Another illustration animates an actual backtrack search as the algorithm
> runs, to find all solutions to the problem at hand.  The reader/user can
> change pruning strategies as it searches.
> All the illustrations are dynamically built by compiled code and drawn at
> read-time, not at typesetting time.  The book's TeX source code thinks it
> is incorporating PDF files, but the PDF file names are mapped into objects
> compiled into the client app.  Each such illustration object reports back
> what its bounding box is on any page, and the the JSBox interpreter
> reserves the space and continues typesetting away in its usual TeX way.
> The illustrations and all their attendant interactive controls are built
> and drawn later in the reserved area when the user first turns to that
> page.  Each illustration is zoom-able independently of the simulated page
> it is on, which nicety PDF doesn't do.
> This design allows my app to be distributed as a (mere!) 7MB download in
> size (and 2MB of that was added by Apple), whereas an equivalent eBook app
> with PDF or SVG illustrations and MOV animations (for my particular
> purposes), would otherwise be many, many gigabytes of data.
> The idea is to allow a GUI app, coded to draw anything on the device
> screen in some view, and having any kind of user interface controls and
> gestures with respect to that interface, to simultaneously surround itself
> with a set of book (or manual) pages having TeX-quality layout and math.
> I've signed up to give a demo of this self-typesetting app/book, and talk
> about some interesting TeX-related issues, at the upcoming 2019 TUG
> conference in August.
> Onward, into the fog ...
> - Doug McKenna
> Mathemaesthetics, Inc.
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