ACCEPTED: Packaging-con: Tools for packaging and using Portable TeX Documents

Jonathan Fine jfine2358 at
Wed Sep 22 22:37:51 CEST 2021


I am a sucker. My talk proposal for has been
accepted. I'm a bit flattered as I'm new to packaging, and they accepted 67
out of 95 full talk proposals. The conference itself is Tuesday 9 and
Wednesday 10 November.

I now have to write and deliver a talk. It would also be good to have at
least one working example that people can play with.

I hope some of you will help me with this, or at least answer some of my
questions. The rest of this message is the ACCEPTED proposal. I'll keep you
posted, particularly of other talks that might be relevant to our community.

The conference fee is quite modest (unless your
employer is paying). By the way, the conference is organized in partnership
with NumFOCUS, who've been sponsoring MathJax since 2019. The
already there's another TeX connection.

Happy TeXing


Title: Tools for packaging and using Portable TeX Documents

Both software and documents have dependencies. This talk focuses on
managing document dependencies, to reduce both network and computation
latency, and to ensure reproducible build (or typesetting) behaviour. Web
development has a strong focus on reducing user experienced latency, as
does serverless cloud computing.

At present human activity and large downloads are required to achieve these
goals for TeX documents.  To improve matters the speaker has introduced the
concept of Portable TeX Documents (PTD).  The PTD concept is intended to
bring to source documents and the TeX community benefits similar to the
benefits Portable Document Format (PDF) brought to Word users and Adobe.

The concepts and tools underlying PTD, particularly mounting git as a
read-only file system, and the use of git backing stores (alternate object
databases) are likely to be useful elsewhere. This is particularly true
when most of the variability of a system lies in a small folder of text
files (which is the case for TeX's typesetting inputs).

Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) stores the output of a typesetting
process. It includes a structured storage system for storing dependencies
such as fonts, graphics, multimedia objects and other resources. The
speaker is creating similar tools and standards for the inputs to a
typesetting process. It will allow authors and others to collaborate using
Portable TeX Documents (PDT).

A key technology will be git used with a backing store (ie alternate object
database). Each PDT will be a git tree containing all typesetting inputs.
Shared resources such as fonts and style files will be placed in the
backing store. Being able to mount a git repository as a read-only file
system would be very helpful. Use of PTD will greatly reduce the human,
bandwidth and storage cost of typesetting a new TeX document in your inbox.
It will also greatly increase the sender's confidence that your output will
be identical to theirs.

The basic idea of PDT is to use git with a backing store. This technology
and associated tools will be most helpful when most of the variability of
the system lies in a small folder of text files (which is the case for
TeX's typesetting inputs). For more information see [video discussion of
Portable TeX Documents](
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