Some thoughts on a ground-up remake of LaTeX

Don Hosek don.hosek at
Sat Nov 6 21:33:33 CET 2021

> On 6 Nov 2021, at 12:22, Paulo Ney de Souza <pauloney at> wrote:
> On Sat, Nov 6, 2021 at 9:22 AM David Carlisle <d.p.carlisle at <mailto:d.p.carlisle at>> wrote:
> with a standard UK keyboard for example, it's much easier to type \’a  and --- than á  and  — 
> David
> Not by any stretch of the definition of the term "ergonomically difficult": \'a requires 3 keystrokes, á requires 2, on the standard UK keyboard. On an absolute majority of keyboard types - it is just 1 keystroke.
> There will always be a need for pidgin-codes for entering special characters like ---, after all, the keyboard of the Linotype was a lot bigger than a normal modern keyboard, but there is no need for any special input for accented letters -- this has been completely resolved by standardization of keyboards.
> Paulo Ney

I use the ABC - Extended layout on my Mac which has á requiring three key strokes: opt-e a. – requires two keystrokes (opt—) and — three (shift-opt--), but for largely for convenience across contexts, I generally prefer the Unicode conventions over the TeX conventions. But, there are also a lot of legacy documents out there not to mention most English-speakers type far fewer accented characters than I do so even if the characters are within reach, they not know about them. 

The biggest use case for TeX-style accent markup comes from the huge swath of BibTeX files (or automatically-generated citations) that exist all over the internet. Enabling \’a for á in a finl document will likely be a non-default setting, but will be required for reading data from bib files (in which case \’, e.g., will expand to be its argument followed by U+0301 (perhaps with some special handling in the case where a user types something like \’{aa} which in LaTeX currently will output áa rather than aá which a naïve implementation of \’ would do).

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