[texhax] The fundamental problem ...

Peter Davis pfd at pfdstudio.com
Wed Jun 22 21:24:28 CEST 2011

I'm trying to create documents that are structured like InDesign documents.
Instead of a single flow of text that goes from page to page, they have
multiple separate "stories," each of which might occupy one or more boxes on
one or more pages.  This is newspaper-like ... you might have an article
that takes up two columns on page 1, and then jumps to a 4 column area on
page 17.  Another article could be 4 columns on page 1, and jump to a 6
column area on page 2.

The flowfram package comes pretty close to what I need, but it still has two
limitations that would be difficult to work around:
1) if it overflows a frame in the middle of a paragraph, and the following
frame has a different width, the end of that paragraph will be set at the
width of the first frame, not the second.
2) it still only recognizes a single flow of text in a document.

The textpos package is great for letting me treat multiple boxes as separate
text flows, but it doesn't do flow from frame to frame.

It seems to me the fundamental problem of doing this kind of layout is to be
able to say, programmatically in TeX:  "Here's a box of width w and height
y, and here's some text.  Tell me how much of the text fits in the box
(given the font, size, etc.)"

If I know that, I can then repeat for the next box with the remaining text,
and so on.

Is there any way to do this, either programmatically in TeX, or with some
other package?  I've used LaTeX for a number of years, but haven't really
learned TeX programming to the level I'd like.

Thank you.


The Tech Curmudgeon
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