[texhax] architectural documentation for low-level LaTeX functions?

Uwe Lück uwe.lueck at web.de
Thu Oct 19 10:11:43 CEST 2006

At 13:11 18.10.06, Martin Schröder wrote:
>2006/10/17, Uwe Lück <uwe.lueck at web.de>:
>>Indeed; I don't know a better way to learn about these things
>>then to read the LaTeX code (jumping around for definitions)
>>and to read the TeXbook (or TeX by Topic).
>Before you start with source2e, you should study the LaTeX companion,
>as it covers the higher-level interfaces.

Well, thanks, ... yet ... this misses just those two or three points
building the thread:

1a. This baby thread started with Niall's query for a serious
documentation or LaTeX /internals/ indeed -- only very few
of them (\@startsection ...) are explained in the LaTeX
Companion (my 1st ed. copy, at least).

Personally, I started playing with computers when memory
capacity and running time were expensive -- this may have
"coined me". Similarly, for many years I had tried to TeX
on an Atari ST with 1 MB RAM. Therefore, I have never loaded
ifthen etc., I use \ifx etc., and I have a very averse feeling
towards using things like \addtocounter in writing macros
(for certain other purposes I use them -- I use \newcommand
or \@ifdefinable as often as possible).

1b. Some of us sometimes think: "I could spend a couple of
days searching for packages whose initial descriptions weakly
indicate that they might be useful for me;
then I could spend a couple of days on comparing their performance,
studying more and more of the documentations to learn
the user interfaces ...

... Instead, I could quickly write some own macros that
exactly match my needs [supposedly in less time],
using my knowledge about low-level LaTeX macros."
-- Typically, the time for repairing many unexpected results
generated this way is underestimated.
-- After such a manoeuvre, your boss may ask you what you have
done all the time and why the project still hasn't been finished ...

2. As Niall and I have stated, we have consulted
source2e several times -- with little success.
(Earlier versions of LaTeX code documentation
used some pseudo-code in the documentation
-- while I understand the real code much better
than the pseudo-code.)

-- This makes me pondering another time to raise the issue
of a "Package Writers' Standard" (e.g., Eplain?) as
opposed to the "Authors' Standard" -- where the latter
is accepted widely to be LaTeX's authors' interface ...
wait for another posting or e-mail from me ...
at the LaTeX list (!?) -- cf. Claudio Beccari, TUGboat 24,
issue 2, p. 277.


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