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From the Editor: In this issue; Next issue: Graphics in LaTeX; PracTeX around the world

Lance Carnes

In this issue
Next issue: Graphics in LaTeX
Editorial: PracTeX around the world

In this issue

This 2006-4 issue marks the end of our second year. It has taken a lot of work to publish these eight issues and the efforts of everyone involved are greatly appreciated.

The papers in this issue are both individual submissions and also selections from the presentations at last summer's PracTeX06 conference.

The articles at the top of the table of contents are for general audience and beginning/intermediate users. As you progress towards the bottom of the list there are articles on more advanced topics. If you are an expert user or a beginning/intermediate user who would like a challenge, try reading about and possibly doing the projects described by these authors.

The PracTeX Journal now offers an RSS feed. If you are not familiar with RSS (an easy way to "subscribe" to a web site) see this introduction. The RSS link is an orange "XML" icon on the home page.

Next issue

Theme: Graphics in (La)TeX
Editor: Yuri Robbers

Basic (La)TeX is not very good with graphics. Over the years, though, many packages have been created to fill this gap. The main focus of the next issue (2007-1) will be "Graphics in (La)TeX", and we are inviting papers about various ways of including figures, about cropping, rotating or even annotating existing figures and of course about ways of creating graphics within LaTeX. Given the plethora of graphics packages, graphics languages and even graphics editors available for (La)TeX, the opportunities are manifold.

Of course we will also welcome any contributions that do not fit within the theme. Issue 2007-1 is scheduled to appear around February 20th. Please contact me if you have a topic for a (La)TeX graphics article or other article. — Yuri Robbers


This issue is a big one, with nearly 20 articles. Many thanks to the authors who wrote and typeset the pieces that appear in this issue.

A large part of the organizational work of assembling this issue was done by production editors Bill Slough, Dale Easley, Joe Hogg, Lance Carnes, Paul Blaga, Francisco Reinaldo, Will Robertson, and Yuri Robbers. These editors spent many hours coordinating with authors, reviewers, and proofreaders to get each article into finished form.

Many thanks also to the reviewers and proofreaders who checked the articles and sent comments and corrections.

Web master Dave Walden helped keep the journal's web site on track even though he officially resigned his post in August. Many thanks, Dave.

Editorial: PracTeX around the world

Recently there has been a lot of "PracTeX" activity. Last summer there was the PracTeX06 conference at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and in October there were two events: a day of LaTeX sponsored by the UK TeX Users' Group (UKTUG), and the annual meeting of the Italian TeX users (GuIT). And finally, what is PracTeX?


PracTeX06 drew about 60 attendees and featured presentations on a wide range of topics. This conference is the latest in the series of PracTeX conferences: TeX Northeast (1998), and the two prior PracTeX conferences in San Francisco (2004) and Durham, NC (2005). PracTeX conferences provide an annual meeting place for North American and international TeX users. Barbara Beeton, a TeX pioneer and the editor of TUG's print journal TUGboat, commented, "The enthusiasm reminded me of early TUG annual meetings". Hopefully PracTeX conferences will continue this enthusiasm and interest in LaTeX and TeX.

The next PracTeX meeting is tentatively scheduled for mid-July 2007. Although it's billed as "TUG 2007" it will hopefully have a few sessions of PracTeX-type presentations in parallel with the usual more advanced topics presented at TUG meetings. Contact the Conference committee for details.

A day of LaTeX in London

The UK TeX Users' Group (UKTUG) sponsored a day of LaTeX in central London on October 20. The three tutorials were:
  • Peter Flynn: "Sorry, Professor, the dog ate my thesis: how to expect the unexpected when using LaTeX"
  • Nicola Talbot: "Writing a thesis in LaTeX: hints, tips and advice"
  • Jonathan Fine: "Avoiding problems, solving problems, asking for help"
The meeting drew 55 attendees. For a report on the conference and to obtain conference materials see a day of LaTeX in this issue. UKTUG plans to have additional activities in the future. It's great to see UKTUG coming back strong.

GuIT — The Italian TeX Users Group

GuIT staff
A light moment with the GuIT staff. (l-r) Gustavo Cevolani, GuIT supporter Kaveh Bazargan, GuIT president Maurizio Himmelmann, Emanuele Zannarini, Emiliano Vavassori, and GuIT VP Onofrio de Bari.
I've been a fan of this fledgling user group since they first organized in 2004. There are several energetic organizers, nine or ten or more, who have put a lot of work into founding and growing the Italian TeX Users Group.

For their second annual conference last year I sent some materials to distribute to attendees. They wrote and thanked me and said I should join them at their next conference. So this year I did.

It was a pleasure meeting the organizers in person. They are energetic, well-organized, have a great sense of humor, and are the most gracious hosts you will ever encounter.

I arrived a day early and watched the GuIT crew set up the meeting hall. They worked hard and had things planned well. The meeting the next day went flawlessly for the nearly 80 attendees. (See the meeting report.)

Bravo GuIT!

What is PracTeX?

We write about "PracTeX," but what is it exactly? To me, PracTeX means down-to-earth, clearly-written, practical information about LaTeX and other TeX tools. The sort of information useful for people new to the TeX world, and for non-technical or non-expert users.

The other world of TeX, maybe call it "DevTeX," is for those who develop and configure TeX-related programs and tools, for developers of TeX macro packages, and for those who enjoy other expert-level subjects. Articles written by DevTeX authors about preparing documents are often difficult for non-technical or non-expert users to understand.

Every so often an editor will suggest that we include an expert-level article in the PracTeX Journal. My feeling is that there are ample opportunities to publish or present this type of material in other places. For example, the annual TUG, EuroTeX, and BachoTeX conferences, and the TUGboat journal, all feature advanced material for the most part. And there were a few expert-level papers from the presentations at PracTeX06. So it seems better to keep the content of the PracTeX Journal practical and not too geeky.

Currently, the more visible parts of the TeX world are the journals, proceedings, and newsgroups of expert-level content. For someone new to TeX or someone who is a non-technical user, the DevTeX world with all its technical jargon and insider talk looks forbidding. To attract and keep new TeX users it seems we should be emphasizing more PracTeX-type activities.

All TeX users, whether you use LaTeX, ConTeXt, AMSTeX or plain TeX, are encouraged to contribute to one of the PracTeX-type journals, conferences, or national user groups. It doesn't matter what level you are, beginner, intermediate, or advanced. For example, articles in this journal are written by all levels of users on whatever topic they have an interest in, and they are encouraged to write at the level of non-technical or non-expert users. Similarly, presentations at PracTeX conferences are given by all levels of users, even by users who have only a few month's experience using LaTeX.

TeX and LaTeX have been around for nearly 30 years. During this time the TeX community as a whole has concentrated more on expert level users and less on reaching out to users of all experience levels. It's never too late, though, to continue broadening our user base with more PracTeX-type activities. Let us know what more you'd like to see and read in The PracTeX Journal and elsewhere in the TeX community.

Lance Carnes

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