[texhax] Obsolete \centerline command used in amsbook class (Uwe L?ck)

Jim Diamond Jim.Diamond at acadiau.ca
Thu Sep 27 00:44:04 CEST 2012

On Wed, Sep 26, 2012 at 15:40 (+0200), Ulrike Fischer wrote:

> Am Tue, 25 Sep 2012 15:24:40 -0300 schrieb Jim Diamond:

>> I find your analogy and your argument uncompelling, to say nothing of
>> petulant.  If a LaTeX package writer updates a package and something
>> changes, one might presume that he/she did so because he/she was
>> fixing a bug or improving the capability of the package.  And thus the
>> change is not only excusable but maybe even a Good Thing.

>> On the other hand, redefining \over or \def strikes me as gratuitously
>> authoritarian. 

> That's not an argument.
Such a definitive statement.  And reminiscent of a Monty Python skit.

> A package is always authoritarian. It always empress on you usage
> rules like syntax and command names. The question is if the
> redefinition of a primitive like \over restricts your possibilities
> in an unsupportable way.
That's one question, but not the only one.
Here's another one: does the package impose gratuitous restrictions on
you, introduce gratuitous changes to the meaning of TeX primitives,
or just set down the manner in which you use the capabilities of the

> LaTeX redefines the primitive \input.  I have never see anyone
> complain about it, but if one doesn't like it it is an one-liner to
> restore the original meaning (at your own risk).

> LaTeX redefines the primitive \end. Again I have never see anyone
> complain about it, but again the old meaning is not lost and can
> easily be restored (at your own risk).
So perhaps these two redefinitions don't bother anyone, OR perhaps
you've just never seen them complain.

> amslates redefines the primitive \over. Before this discussion I
> have never seen someone complain about it, and again the old meaning
> is not lost and can easily be restored.
But why does the original meaning of \over have to be separated from
the token "\over"?  Is there some reason why that is truly required,
or did the amslatex authors decide "we don't like \over, and so we
will make it difficult for people to use it"?  Perhaps you know the
definitive, authoritative answer to that, I certainly don't.

> I never saw a package redefine \def, only some user which didn't
> realize what they were doing and were quite bewildered about the
> resulting errors.  I personally think it is a very good idea of
> LaTeX3 to use internally other names and so to free all this short
> names like \def, \hbox etc for user commands. And again: The old
> meaning will not lost and you will be able to remap it to \def.

> So my reaction to the complain about "\over" is "so what"?
Apparently you don't care about the trouble this causes some people.
But I don't see that your lack of concern makes it OK in any global

> Were you ever affected personally from one of this redefinitions?
> Did you - before you read this discussion - actually ever cared?
To answer your question, which is arguably irrelevant to the
discussion... A long time ago, when I started to use TeX, I looked at
LaTeX and decided I didn't like its "my way or the highway" attitude.
Specifically, I wanted to change a couple of its formatting decisions
and after looking at *the* worst spaghetti code I've ever seen trying
to figure out what to change, I decided I didn't want to use LaTeX at
all.  (I assume newer versions of LaTeX are better written, but I
haven't checked.)  So I stopped using it.  While I occasionally
provide what assistance I can to some local LaTeX beginners, I have
made a point of avoiding LaTeX whenever possible, so its bad design
decisions (as well as its good ones) mostly go unnoticed.  However, in
the course of providing assistance where I can, I sometimes have to
figure the "LaTeX way" of doing something because the plain TeX way
doesn't work, for some good or bad reason.


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