[texhax] Jul18 TUG news: collaboration, integration, development

TeX Users Group tug-news at tug.org
Sun Jul 8 23:57:12 CEST 2018

Dear TeXers!

I hope our US members have had a happy and safe Fourth of July
celebration.  Let me remind you about the great CTAN package
https://ctan.org/pkg/happy4th !

We are just two weeks from the conference in Brazil (https://tug.org/tug2018).
Hope to see many old faces there - and many new ones!

A personal note.  Recently I have been engaged in a collaborative work
on a large paper.  Some of my collaborators do not have TeX installed
on their computers, but they are using Overleaf. I opened an account
and moved the paper there.  There was my first attempt at using
Overleaf, and I was rather pleased by what I saw --- although I miss
my git, or any other sane version control system.  The most important
thing was the ease of collaboration with less TeXnical members of the
team. Right now Overleaf counts about two million users: this is at
least two orders of magnitude more than the number of members of
various TeX user groups.

There are at least two important lessons for us TeXnicians here. First,
we must deal with the fact that many TeX users are going to come to TeX
through interfaces like Overleaf. How do we engage them and integrate
them into the community? Perhaps we can encourage them to join TUG and
support the development of TeX and friends? I would like to note that
Overleaf is a TUG institutional member, and has been generous with their
donations to TUG (likewise ShareLaTeX, recently acquired by Overleaf).
We can expect Overleaf's help, but we need to be creative in the ways we
can be useful to Overleaf customers.

Second, it looks like there is a future for projects integrating TeX
with other software.  I think the success of Overleaf is due to the
fact this is not just a centralized TeX processor: it is also a
collaborative platform, version control system, journal submission
system, etc.  Using TeX as a part of an integrated system is a very
interesting direction.  Another example is a platform for reproducible
computation science based on R/knitr or Python/PythonTeX, like

This is something I would like us to think about.

TeX development meanwhile is alive and well, as witnessed by the
continuing stream of package updates on CTAN. Some highlights from June:
- a class to draw guitar tablatures (guitartabs),
- a cross between of align* and enumerate (gatherenum), 
- a Kana parser written in LuaTeX (kanaparser), 
- an interface to the Cinderella graphics suite (ketcindy),
- a package to parse CSS-like selectors for tables (cellprops), 
- a new package for formal documents (tlc-article),
.. and plenty more, including a number of new styles for various
institutions. See https://ctan.org/pkg/ for info.

Happy TeXing!
Boris Veytsman, TUG President

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