[texhax] Latex: dumbing down? (fwd)

Michael Barr mbarr at math.mcgill.ca
Thu Sep 14 15:47:20 CEST 2006

Although I had no doubt that I could eventually accomplish this within
latex, go look at what the unsophisticated original author actually did
do.  The result was ghastly and not what he really wanted, but it was what
he knew how to get.  Had he been taught about $$...\eqno...$$, he probably
would have done that and got what he wanted.  When I first started using 
latex, in around 1986, I freely mixed plain tex and latex.  And I still 

I had thought this thread had died out, but since it is continuing, I am
going to raise a further question.  Does the latex 3 team intend to try to
make it impossible to mix plain and latex code?  Will they go beyond
deprecation and get into forbidding.  The AMS, for example, has tried to
make it impossible to use \pmatrix (and relatives) by redefining it to
give an error message.  I discovered this after a book I had written that 
used a couple dozen matrices was accepted for publication by a series that 
uses the AMS as their publishing arm and was forced to use their class 
file.  (I solved my problem by redefining \pmatrix after their macros were 
loaded.)  Does the latex 3 team plan on doing things like that?  If so, 
they will cause a fork in latex, with people like me continuing to use 
latex 2e and the rest going along with latex 3.  

Michael Barr

On Sun, 10 Sep 2006, Uwe [iso-8859-1] Lück wrote:

> First, a pointer concerning philosophical issues:
> I'd like to draw to attention what Claudio Beccari
> wrote on LaTeX vs. Plain TeX in TUBboat 24-2 p. 277
> (in a review of the 2nd edition of the LaTeX Companion).
> At 17:25 25.08.06, Michael Barr wrote:
> >I recently got a paper to copy edit that contained the line
> >\[ (*)\ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ some formula \]
> >with a later reference to formula $(*)$.  Naturally, I changed that to
> >$$ some formula\eqno(*)$$
> >(Actually, first I tried \[...\eqno(*)\] but that gave an error message.)
> >
> >I began to muse about this.  I have been lectured by latex purists about
> >how dangerous it can be to mix plain and latex (why then is nearly the
> >entire body of plain incorporated into latex?), but I have never paid the
> >least attention to that.  Certainly Leslie Lamport was not rigid on that
> >question.  Two pages of his "Latex" was devoted to that question.  As far
> >as I can tell from that book as well as the Companion, there is no way, in
> >pure latex, to put in (*) as an equation "number".  But this is a
> >perfectly reasonable thing to do.
> >
> >More generally, restricting oneself to "pure" latex, while a good idea for
> >a beginner, is too restrictive for someone who wants to get the most out
> >of tex.  I am beginning to understand the mentality of a colleague of mine
> >who told me that he would never use Latex because Latex does not allow you
> >to...(whatever, as a matter of fact, I think it was a matter of using
> >\eqno).  I told him that latex incorporates nearly all of plain tex, but I
> >could never convince that the things that latex did well (sectioning,
> >lists, etc) were real time savers.
> Sorry for abusing this philosophical thread for proving my brilliance
> in solving (La)TeX problems: Here is a completely LaTeX-compliant
> version of Michaeal Barr's original problem (tested):
>    Equation~(\ref{eq:first}) is kind of an axiom:
>    \begin{equation}
>    \label{eq:first}
>    1=1
>    \end{equation}
>    We derive equation~(\ref{eq:star}):
>    %% Following fails -- \renewcommand "to late" + bad
>    %% number for next equation -- to watch, comment in
>    %% and comment out below:
>    % \begin{equation}
>    % \renewcommand{\theequation}{*} \label{eq:star} 2=2
>    % \end{equation}
>    \newenvironment{nicetagequation}[1]
>      {\renewcommand*{\theequation}{#1}%
>       \addtocounter{equation}{-1}%
>       \begin{equation}}
>      {\end{equation}}
>      %% <- If you really use this, put it into the
>      %%    documentpreamble or into a project-related .sty
>      %% TODO -> packages
>    \begin{nicetagequation}{*}\label{eq:star}
>    2=2
>    \end{nicetagequation}
>    As a corollary, we get equation~(\ref{eq:third}):
>    \begin{equation}
>    \label{eq:third}
>    3=3
>    \end{equation}
> This replies to ...
> At 17:45 25.08.06, William Adams wrote:
> >First, $$...$$ is deprecated (see l2tabu on CTAN for more such).
> >
> >What you'd actually want to do for this is to define an environment
> >which temporarily redefines the setting of the equation # as
> >something like (\textasterisk) (assuming you're loading textcomp),
> >restoring the previous definition after the environment.
> I had the same problem and used \eqno as well,
> together with the deprecated $$...$$ -- I don't worry
> about those deprecations.
> -- Only here I have thought how to do it with LaTeX.
> Indeed sometimes it is appropriate to label a displayed
> formula in a way that the reader can easily remember
> the content of that formula -- pages later. (When you write
> a book, it may be essential to help the reader in finding
> the equation ...)
> Cheers,
>    Uwe.

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