[pdftex] TeX as a composition server?

Robin Fairbairns Robin.Fairbairns at cl.cam.ac.uk
Tue Oct 26 00:16:02 CEST 2010

James Quirk <jjq at galcit.caltech.edu> wrote (quoting ross moore):

> > It is precisely this kind of thing that makes TeX continue to be relevant. 
> > Workflows can be stitched together, as you have done with AMRITA, taking data 
> > from whatever source and producing a high-quality, feature enriched, 
> > representation within a PDF document which is accessible to everyone 
> > (through commercially produced, but still essentially free, readers.
> > 
> > Personally, I do not see any part of TeX that needs to be deprecated.
> I have to tread carefully so as not to get myself into too much trouble, 
> but I would argue that there are elements of TeX-the-mindset that need to 
> be deprecated, which I can elaborate on offline. And should any of my 
> concerns stand up to scrutiny, they can always be forwarded on here. One 
> of the less contentious concerns, which has already been raised by Ivo, 
> has to do with the number of active developers. On that score ConTeXt
> is a much healthier enterprise than say LaTeX, or at
> least so it appears to this bystander.

it's true that context has a well-known powerhouse of a programmer
behind it, but latex also has an active developer community (though, for
sure, the kernel development team is pretty "compact").

> > Rather, it is an ever-expanding suite of software, much of it being developed 
> > to be able to prepare documents for the ever-expanding realms of display 
> > devices and software techniques appearing on the market, over which there 
> > is no real control whatsoever --- and neither should there be. (They 
> > will live and die on their merits.)
> No. I have to disagree. Historically, software has lived and died on the 
> commericial clout of its backers and not on its actual technical merits. 
> For instance, it's generally accepted that Fortran won out over Algol 
> because of IBM's backing. Although I'm sure Robin is better placed than 
> myself to adjudicate on the accuracy of this statement, for I only started 
> to program in 1980.

fortran won because it had a secure base, and provided the sorts of
facilities its base users needed.  algol was designed "the way things
ought to be designed", but the specification left out slightly important
things like standard i/o...  but this didn't stop burroughs (i think it
was) from writing an operating system in algol (any more than fortran's
"grubby" background stopped me using it on vaxen, for the sort of job
where i now use perl for linux sysadmin).

> Anyhow, we're seeing the same sorts of battle 
> now with PDF versus HTML5, and much of it is ill-informed. 
> For those who are interested, Adobe's side of the argument is given at:
> www.adobe.com/enterprise/pdfs/html5_flash.pdf .

sigh.  there wasn't much of a perceptible battle going on, when i was
starting, but the only way i would have known about it would have been
through the printed word (the arpanet didn't make it across this side of
the atlantic until the mid-'70s).

those of us with little ambition for fights have merely to sit back and
do our thing.  i've plenty to do, though, apart from wittering on
mailing lists.


More information about the pdftex mailing list