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From the Editor

Lance Carnes

 

The PracTeX Journal is hitting its stride now with its third issue. This issue contains useful user-oriented articles, the usual columns, and news and announcements from recent events.

After Issue #2 we welcomed three new editors to the board who have already made contributions and have been helpful getting Issue #3 ready: Peter Flom, Tristan Miller, and Will Robertson. And the Journal now has an International Standard Serial Number (ISSN), thanks to Tristan.

In this issue

In Christina Thiele's News from Around there is news from the Italian user group, the Polish users group, and from TUG, the international users group. Impressions from PracTeX05 is a follow-up to the successful conference last month in Chapel Hill, with photos and comments from attendees.

Several articles in this issue are from the presentations at the PracTeX05 conference. Joe Hogg's presentation at the conference was about booklets typeset using LaTeX, and his article gives a detailed look at making one of these. Klaus Hoeppner gave a talk introducing the use of graphics with LaTeX, and his paper will likely become a popular reference for LaTeX users. John Burt, an English professor at Brandeis, gave an enjoyable talk on poemscol, a LaTeX package for typesetting critical editions of poetry — the parts of his presentation I enjoyed most were the tales of discovering major errors introduced into the great works of literature and poetry, some of them created by misguided typographers — you'll find some of these anecdotes in his paper also. David Ignat presented an amazing success story — the conversion to LaTeX of 100,000 words and 1,000 references from 12 co-authors who used MS Word, and his paper details how this was accomplished.

Peter Flynn's paper presents a new interface to searching the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN), and David Walden compiled an informative survey of seven viewpoints of the question What is TeX?.

Tim Null's begin-here column covers the preamble and title of a LaTeX document, and also contains several contests to hone your LaTeX skills. (See also Tim's begin-here column for Issue #2 which was delayed because of illness.) David Walden's Travels in TeXLand dissects a macro, looks at three software packages, and wonders about the Trouble with TeX. Ask Nelly covers a few reader questions, and there is a new column, Distractions, where you can solve some puzzles while learning about LaTeX and TeX — and maybe win a prize.

As you read the articles and columns please use the response links to send us feedback. The PracTeX Journal is still evolving and your feedback will help us as we strive to improve it.


Thanks

The Editorial Board and I want to thank the authors, columnists, and Ask Nelly answerers for their excellent pieces which make this journal possible. We also want to thank those who worked behind the scenes:

Reviewers and copy editors: Barbara Beeton, Karl Berry, Jon Breitenbucher, David L Elliott, Peter Flom, Peter Flynn, Michael Guravage, Jim Hefferon, Baden Hughes, Jenny Levine, Tristan Miller, John O'Rourke, Tarcisio Praciano-Pereira, Will Robertson, Bill Slough, and David Walden

See also other key people who make this publication possible.

The PracTeX Journal project and numerous other TeX-related projects are sponsored by the TeX Users Group. Please show your support by joining TUG and participating in TUG conferences.


The TeX User Group Presidential Election and the future of TUG

The TUG presidential election ended in early June and Karl Berry was re-elected for the two-year term. Karl is a tireless contributor to TUG, and does everything from maintaining its web site to co-editing the TeX-Live Software project, and nearly everything else between. Congratulations, Karl.

I was Karl's challenger. Of course I could never hope to step into Karl's shoes and do all the things he currently does for TUG. This was not my purpose in running for president, in the first contested election since 1991. Rather, I saw a user group that I have been active in since its founding twenty-five years ago slowly slipping away. Membership is at an all-time low, conference attendance is down, and new ideas are needed to expose TeX to a wider audience. I ran on a platform which favored turning TUG from what I see as a mostly experts group into more of a user-oriented organization.

The outcome of the election was 183–177 in favor of Karl Berry. This was a total of 360 votes from the 1,080 members who had renewed their membership for 2005 and were eligible to vote. (There were about 1,600 members in 2004. Membership is on a calendar-year basis, so each January 1 TUG has 0 members, and builds throughout the year.)

(After the election the Board offered me an open Director position, and I accepted. I've been on the Board one month now, and am just coming up to speed after reading the board archives and participating in the mail list. I'm looking forward to working with them to improve the organization.)

For me the stunning aspect of the election (other than the fact that I lost ;-) was the low membership. Why so few members? One day at the recent PracTeX conference in Chapel Hill I met with a few TUG veterans over lunch and we tried to estimate the number of worldwide TeX users. The numbers we came up with ranged from 500,000 to a few million. The obvious question then presented itself: how can we get more of this huge number of potential members to join TUG?


Why aren't there (at least) 10,000 TUG members?

Assuming there are one million TeX users worldwide it seems that at least 1% or 10,000 could be TUG members. Even more likely is 3–5% or 30,000 to 50,000 members. Why isn't TUG able to grow to include more worldwide TeX users?

In my campaign statement I suggest a few possibilities for increasing membership and improving benefits. These ideas came from TeX users I met through the PracTeX conferences and the PracTeX Journal, and from other membership-based organizations I belong to. There are probably other ways TUG could better serve its members and also attract more prospective members. Do you have some ideas? If you would like to share them write to the TUG board.

25 Years of TUG

This year is the 25th anniversary of TUG. That's quite an accomplishment. The group's first 25 years were devoted mostly to the development of TeX's technology, and an impressive set of TeX software and documentation has been collected. It seems only fitting that during the next 25 years we concentrate on widening the use of TeX by making this great technology easier to use, through improved user interfaces and training materials.

I hope more of you become involved in TUG and help it grow. Perhaps we will see you soon on a TUG committee, or running for a board seat or even for president.


Lance Carnes
Editor

 


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