Philip Taylor (Webmaster)
P.Taylor at Rhul.Ac.Uk
Thu Feb 28 13:32:20 CET 2008
Zdenek Wagner wrote:
> OK, I will write it more philosophically and I will end up with some
> practical suggestions. It's quite a long mail...
> There are four reasons why to add files somewhere and include them
> into the document:
> 1. [snipped, not relevant here]
> 2. The user needs repeatedly a set of his/her own macros. These macros
> are planned to be reused in a great many documents but are not so
> generic as to publish them on CTAN. Although private the file should
> have a descriptive name which is distinct enough from names of other
> files. Placing the file on a separate directory helps its maintanance
> but searching should be based on the filename only, not on the
> directory. If you have c:/somepath/macros.tex and
> c:/otherpath/macros.tex, you soon forget which is which. If the file
> names are (quoting my favourite book) myowninvention.tex,
> cheshirecat.tex, jabberwocky.tex, you have better chance to remember
> what each of them is good for. And there is small risk that a file
> with the same name will exist anywhere else along the search path.
> These files therefore belong to a directory which is on the search
> 3. [snipped]
> 4. [snipped]
> Let's return to items 2 and 3. [snipped]
> B. You have a file (package) that should be used by several users and
> is not included in TL and will never be there. You put such a
> file/package under texmf-local/tex. Remember that texmf-dist is
> searched before texmf-local and texmf-local is outside the root of TL.
> If the file with the same name appears in a future version of TL, your
> file will be inaccessible. That's why I say that descriptive names are
I think this was a long and helpful e-mail, Zdenek, but the last sentence
of the fragments I have left intact indicates what I perceive as the
heart of the problem. Suppose that I develop a package "Cropmarks.tex",
for my own use, and I place it "under texmf-local/tex", as you recommend.
And suppose that at some point in the future, someone else working
on the same task uploads /their/ version of "Cropmarks.tex", which
then makes its way in a subsequent release of TeX Live to texmf-dist.
At that point, I have followed all of your guidelines (especially those
recommending descriptive names and file placement), yet I can no longer
access my version of "Cropmarks.tex" as I used to be able to.
Now I am prepared to accept your argument that absolute locations
are, in general, a Bad Thing [tm] (even though that is exactly
what Steve is asking for advice about, so cannot be ignored);
yet TeX Live's default configuration of searching texmf-dist
/before/ texmf-local is surely insane. Is it not ?
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