[luatex] The LuaTeXbook

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Mon Jan 3 02:11:12 CET 2011

On 2 January 2011 site4000 at free.fr wrote:

 > -The program you propose is maybe a good way to learn deeply LuaTeX
 > but you found this program because you have already read all the
 > stuff about TeX and successors but what about newcommers ? They
 > don't know what to read and they don't know what to read first.

do I understand you correctly?  You propose a book which describes
TeX's ugly macro language in detail, the primitives added by pdftex,
Omega/Aleph, and e-TeX, as well as Lua and LuaTeX (including TeX's
internal data structures which are made accessible by LuaTeX), and
then you ask "what about newcomers?".

I assume that with "newcomers" you mean new programmers, not users.
But nobody is interested in a book describing all the details.  The
world is too complex now and LuaTeX is a moving target.  I don't see
any reason to explain Knuth's plain TeX macros again.  From the
viewpoint of macro packages, like ConTeXt, most of Knuth's macros can
be replaced by Lua code.  And I'm conviced that this will be done soon.

About 25 years ago, Helmut Kopka wrote books about LaTeX (3 volumes).
These books described LaTeX-2.09 in detail.  But how many volumes do
we need today?  There are many .sty files which come with more than
600 pages of documentation each.  It's not feasible anymore to provide
a book which explains everything you can do with LaTeX today.  Such a
book would have more than 10,000 pages.

Regarding LuaTeX, I don't think that a book makes sense in the near
future.  A LuaTeX Wiki is more useful.

And regarding "The TeXbook": Who, on earth, wants to read Appendix D
in order to write a braindead macro which just typesets an asterisk
n-times, while at the same time LuaTeX provides a function
string.rep(), which is so much easier to use.

I fear that a book explaining everything is useless.  Especially
because it would be too large, and out-of-date when it's released.


Reinhard Kotucha                                      Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover                              mailto:reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Microsoft isn't the answer. Microsoft is the question, and the answer is NO.

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