[pdftex] TeX as a composition server?

James Quirk jjq at galcit.caltech.edu
Tue Oct 26 01:06:13 CEST 2010


> 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.
I'm not interested in fighting to promote flavour A over flavour B, but I 
do draw the line when it comes to preserving intellectual rigour, which 
has not won me many friends in my niche field. 

Like you I'm a product of Cambridge, and it only seems like yesterday that 
I lived in Fitzwilliam St. writing up a thermodynamics project and 
lamenting the fact that I could not show the reader what I had programmed 
on my BBC Model B, but it was 1984. Fast forwarding 26 years, it's now 
possible to show computing directly in a PDF journal article, courtesy of 
the /RichMedia annotations, which is why I find this recent Nature article 
depressing: http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101013/full/467775a.html . For 
instance, it's been possible for a good two years now to run a Lua 
intepreter, inside a SWF, inside of a PDF, courtesy of the Alchemy 
cross-compiler. And if TeX were refactored, it too could run inside a 
document. Therefore, in terms of scientific computing, we are on an 
exciting cusp: for authors can now lead their readers through actual 
software examples rather than talking about things in a detached fashion.

Incidentally, do you know why Google street view is missing images for 
Fitzwilliam St.? My room overlooked a plaque commemorating where Darwin 
lived on his return from the first Beagle voyage in 1836. So I am well 
attuned to my limitations as a scientist.



> robin

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