Some thoughts on a ground-up remake of LaTeX

Philip Taylor (Hellenic Institute) P.Taylor at Hellenic-Institute.Uk
Sat Nov 6 12:42:23 CET 2021

On 06/11/2021 06:20, Don Hosek wrote:

> For those who’ve missed the introduction to my finl project (which is 
> slowly coming along but has little practical application yet), the 
> half-baked original manifesto is here: 
> I’m in the midst of writing the scanner/tokenizer right now and 
> thinking about command arguments. Since I’m eschewing the TeX engine 
> on this, I can treat LaTeX-style commands and all their various 
> arguments as first-class entities. This is a second-draft set of 
> thoughts on command parameters. Each parameter has a format and a 
> type. Formats indicate things like whether it’s a required argument or 
> optional argument, types indicate what’s in the argument (e.g., 
> verbatim text, parsed tokens, math, special types like key-value 
> lists, etc.).
> I’d love to get feedback from anyone who cares to delve into my ramblings.

What follows is a "spur of the moment" response, Don, and is made with 
the deepest respect for you as someone who has been involved with TeX 
virtually since its inception (I joined the fold only in the mid 80's).

My gut feeling is that any language layered on top of 
TeX-the-typesetting-engine should use a syntax that is clearly distinct 
from that of TeX /qua/ TeX.  In particular, finl commands should /not/ 
"[consist of a] |\| followed by either a named command or a command 
symbol".  Keep "\" as the command introducer for TeX; use anything else 
for finl.  By so doing, not only would you allow "finl" programmers 
access to any TeX primitive that they need, knowing in advance that it 
had not been stolen by finl. but even more importantly you would allow 
those seeking to /modify/ finl code to identify, without ambiguity, 
which elements are finl and which are TeX  My personal preference would 
be to implement finl as a dialect of XML, but myriad other possibilities 
of course exist.

I may discover, after drinking my third coffee of the day, that the 
above is complete and utter nonsense, but it was what came to mind when 
I followed your hyperlink to the manifesto and some of the further 
hyperlinks embedded therein.
/Philip Taylor/

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