[rfc-i] LaTeX proposal misunderstood

"Martin J. Dürst" duerst at it.aoyama.ac.jp
Mon Apr 2 17:31:39 PDT 2012

Hello Yaakov,

On 2012/04/02 21:37, Yaakov Stein wrote:
> Martin
> 1) I was careful to state that TeX enables handling "international characters".
> I never said "Unicode".

Yes, I noticed. But I wanted to make sure the rest of this list 
understood the distinction.

> This handling of extended characters is part of basic TeX,
> and thus universally supported.
> I agree that there is no 1-1 correspondence between the basic TeX method
> and Unicode - in fact TeX can create many characters that do not exist
> in Unicode, and the combination of TeX and Metafont can create any imaginable symbol.

In some cases (in particular the specs I tend to work on), it's very 
helpful to know that the text is actually encoded in UTF-8, rather than 
just knowing that it will look good on paper.

> 2) I agree that only a small fraction of RFCs need equations.
> Unfortunately, it is the fraction that I tend to work on.

I don't think anybody said you couldn't use LaTeX for your work. Please 
go ahead.

Regards,    Martin.

> 3) Converters to pdf, html, and text already exist.
> The missing link is the direct TeX to ebook formats.
> I have accomplished something of this sort by TeX ->  HTML and after a bit of hacking ->  epub
> but haven't tried creating mobi, azw, kf8, IEC-62448, LIT, etc.
> and don't know of any existing tools.
> Y(J)S
> -----Original Message-----
> From: "Martin J. Dürst" [mailto:duerst at it.aoyama.ac.jp]
> Sent: Monday, April 02, 2012 12:25
> To: Yaakov Stein
> Cc: rfc-interest at rfc-editor.org
> Subject: Re: [rfc-i] LaTeX proposal misunderstood
> Hello Yaakov,
> Sorry to be late in replying. I haven't listened to your talk, but I
> have read all the followup to this posting. I also want to make it clear
> that I in no way dislike (La)TeX; I use it myself and have my students
> use it.
> I just want to make three comments:
> 1) Various versions of (La)TeX can handle various ranges of
> "internationalized" characters, but it's one of the technologies that is
> moving to Unicode at a rather slow pace. As far as I am aware of,
> there's not yet a version of (La)TeX where I can input a wide range of
> Unicode text and just get it formatted and printed well. We would also
> have to include various fonts with the source to make sure the output is
> reproducible. [If you know better, pointers would be appreciated.]
> 2) Mathematical formulae are definitely easier to hand-author in (La)TeX
> than in MathML. But in a different thread, it was pointed out that using
> complicated formulae is only necessary/important for a rather small
> percentage of RFCs. Also, there are good (La)TeX ->  MathML converters.
> 3) On a higher level, you write "there would be a suite of converters"
> and "Perhaps someone would .. develop .. tools". Lot's of woulds. Well,
> for XML2RFC, some people *did* develop tools. It's running code, which
> is one of the tenets of the IETF. So if you'd develop some tools to
> produce IDs and RFCs from (La)TeX, then I think nobody would oppose
> that. Eventually, there might be enough users that it could be adopted
> as the "canonical" format. But even XML2RFC, which is widely used and
> has something like a 10-year history, isn't yet the "canonical" format,
> so I'd expect that to take some time.
> Regards,   Martin.
> On 2012/03/28 15:38, Yaakov Stein wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> After hearing from several people after the BOF yesterday,
>> I believe that perhaps I was not clear enough.
>> What I suggested was to move from XML to LaTeX as input format,
>> and to make the LaTeX source code the normative (and everlasting) version.
>> There would be a suite of converters (most of which exist today and run on every conceivable platform)
>> that convert on-the-fly LaTeX source into HTML, PDF, plain text, epub, etc. for viewing and/or printing.
>> By moving from XML to LaTeX we automatically get beautiful equations,
>> various graphics, international characters, metadata, etc.
>> It is also MUCH easier and more intuitive to use than the present XML,
>> produces much nicer documents,
>> and there are dozens of (introductory to advanced) books describing its use.
>> The only "special" thing we would need to maintain is an RFC style file
>> (with the defaults, boiler plate, headers/footers, etc.).
>> We would not need to continue coding tcl or xslt for our own proprietary typesetting formats
>> as everything else is taken care of by the large and mostly Open Source TeX ecosystem.
>> Since TeX is used by all major publication houses and academic journals,
>> this ecosystem is not going away any time soon.
>> Perhaps someone would be able to develop semi-automated tools to convert old text
>> or xml documents to the new format.
>> Although a nontrivial job, that is no harder than creating a text to xml or text to epub converter.
>> Y(J)S
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