[tex-live] Primitive parity, \expanded and \Ucharcat
joseph.wright at morningstar2.co.uk
Thu May 3 23:38:27 CEST 2018
In adding features to expl3, the LaTeX team have been making use of a
variety of 'new' (post-e-TeX) 'utility' primitives in various engines.
Almost always these originate in pdfTeX and have migrated to other
engines, but are not in any way tied to PDF output, etc. Depending on
the exact engine in use, some or all of these primitives may be
unavailable, and that then limits macro-level features.
It seems sensible long-term to have cross-engine feature stay 'in sync'
with each other. In particular, (u)pTeX has picked up a number of pdfTeX
features, meaning that XeTeX often is the most 'limited' engine. The
team would like, if possible, to have a common feature set in all
engines in this regard. At the same time, there are a few 'bits and
pieces' that make sense to raise at the same time. I'll lay out the
various areas below.
Doing the work here is non-trivial, but luckily there is an automated
build system available via GitHub which is allowing us (me/David
Carlisle) to do some testing. I'm building up patches in various
branches at https://github.com/josephwright/texlive-source: assuming
these look good, I'll merge them as required and send diff files to
where/whoever is best. The branches on GitHub should hopefully have
clear names for what they address.
The areas we are keen to look at are as follows:
- 'pdfutils': (u)pTeX has picked up a number of pdfTeX primitives, and
a subset have made their way into XeTeX too. However, XeTeX is still
missing several, most notably an expandable RNG. We are part-way
though working out patches to add the rest to XeTeX (RNG is done,
file data and timer to do)
- banners: pdfTeX and LuaTeX have \<engine>banner, other engines lack
that. The banner includes TeX version and details of the TeX system,
so is potentially useful. Adding this to (u)pTeX/XeTeX looks
straight forward: still to-do.
- \expanded: This was slated for pdfTeX 1.50 but that has never
appeared, but the primitive is useful as it allows 'function-like'
expandable macros. We can see this begin very useful for simplifying
some macro code, and in many ways it feels like an e-TeX primitive.
The GitHub expanded branch adds it to pdfTeX/XeTeX/(u)pTeX
- Allowing \Ucharcat (XeTeX) to make \active tokens: this was raised
recently on the XeTeX list, but fits here as we've put a branch
together to show it works
It's likely I'll finish the outstanding patches by the weekend. Note
that at present each feature addition is in a separate Git branch, so to
add all of them I'll have to do a little tidying up: that will happen
once I know which of these suggestions are useful.
Feedback most welcome.
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