[pdftex] current filename and current filedate ?

ivo welch ivo.welch at yale.edu
Sat Dec 20 02:46:13 CET 2003

hi guys:  I hear the chorus, but I think you are wrong.  Yes, I could 
learn RCS for myself, although I will more likely write a job 
preprocessor in perl.

* One main argument in favor of LaTeX over WYSIWYG is its ability to 
handle and manage long documents fairly well.  We do not bundle RCS with 
LaTeX routinely.  I do not believe that we/books routinely consider 
revision control a basic part of our latex systems.    Do we really need 
to add the RCS level of complexity for a feature that is fairly close to 
the basic mission of latex?

* RCS may not be portably available elsewhere, so if I go RCS, do I lose 
the ability to transfer my documents elsewhere?

* Programming-wise, it would not be a big step to add two macros for 
\currentfile and \currentfiledate.  There is no operating system on 
which this would likely be difficult.   Are there any modern C 
implementations without a basic Unix-like stat() call?

* We already have facilities inside latex to get the overall \jobname 
(really a filename).  We also already have facilities for the current 
So, if we can have \write18, \include, and \jobname, \currentfile and 
\currentfiledate is not very different.

Ultimately, it is about the cost/benefit of new features, where we can 
define both broadly to apply to both users and programmers.  I am still 
hopeful that digits will become macro-code-characters, though for this 
feature I can see a high internal programming cost, so this will 
probably n ever happen.

Let me take a step back:  pdflatex is the best tool for my jobs, bar 
none.  I love it.  But its pace of improvement is glacial.  Sometime 
slow choices can be good, but we also are missing many opportunities.  
Would stagnant be the right word?  (The big exception in my opinion is 
the evolution of pdflatex.)  The very fact that it is not obvious to me 
(and thus to many other users) where I can send suggestions/wishes/votes 
on future latex features is a good example.   Do users have any input 
into future changes?  Are users now in the process of waiting for 
something better to come along?

I have donated small amounts of money in the past, purchased books that 
I think help latex3 development, and I would certainly try to help more 
if there was a little more momentum.  There are many commercial ventures 
using TeX, some of which would probably love to help out if there was 
only some direction.  I am dismayed that many obscure open source 
projects seem to have much more dynamics than latex.

I hope my email is constructive criticism, not flaming the poor souls 
who have been helping us poor users all along for very little reward 



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