\centerline{\bf The uphill struggle of \TeX}
\medskip\noindent
The following article is a translation of a piece by Laurent Siebenmann
which originated as a paper delivered to a gathering of the French \TeX\ user
group GUTenberg (Groupe des Utilisateurs de \TeX) and which is to appear in
the Gazette of the French Mathematical Society.
I am proud to say
that the author himself concurs with my translation. In fact, he could very
well have written it himself in English.
Even so, both of us
had difficulty with a few translations. For example, what should the
English title of this piece be? In French it was ``Evolution en amont de
\TeX''. Should this be rendered as ``The uphill struggle of \TeX'' or more
felicitously as ``The progressive evolution of \TeX''. There are also some
wonderful French phrases which acquire colour by virtue of linguistic
confusions to which the French themselves are probably immune. Take for
example ``dactylographe chevronn\'e''. For me, this conjures up the image of
a she-goat. However, nothing so ungallant is intended; and I think that the
translation can only be ``seasoned typist''.
The piece serves
to show just how vigorously \TeX\ is progressing ``on the continent''.
\smallskip
\rightline{\sl Stephen Pollock}
\bigskip
\rm\def\tem#1{\par\noindent#1\enspace\ignorespaces}
\def\bull{\par\noindent$\bullet$\ignorespaces}
\centerline{\bf The evolution of the \TeX\ user interface}
\medskip
\leftline{\sl Preprocessors for Mathematics Texts}
\noindent
The task of transforming a manuscript into a printed document of high
quality is particularly difficult whenever mathematics are involved. Since
Donald Knuth conceived \TeX\ partly for the purpose of resolving this
notorious problem --- which was directly affecting his own books --- it will
probably be of interest to the participants of the Gutenberg Seminar
(including the non-mathematicians) to hear that a variety of solutions are
now on offer. In fact, the ideas which are being pursued have a wide range
of application. However, the specific preprocessors which I am going to
itemise here, and, in particular, my own Sweet-teX, do not, at present,
have the applicability outside the realm of mathematics that \TeX\ has.
These preprocessors are specialised tools whose uses are largely confined
to the tasks which they perform to the greatest advantage.
At present there
are two well-established classes of preprocessors for mathematical
manuscripts:
\smallskip\noindent
\frenchspacing
{\sl Category I:} Text-Orientated Preprocessors
\bull STRATEC: a
preprocessor for the Victor(``Sirius'') by D. Foata, J.J. Pansoit and Y. Roy,
Laboratoire de Typographie Informatis\'ee, 7, rue R. Descartes, Univ. L.
Pasteur, 67084-Strasbourg, France; Tel (16)-88-41-63-45. A
long-awaited version for the IBM PC has recently appeared as well as a
version (unexpected) for the Macintosh. See [TSD1]
\bull Easy\TeX\ for
the IBM PC, by a team from Milan: E. Crisanti, Alberto Formigoni and P. La
Bruna; Te.CoGraf. snc, via Pacini 11, I-20131 Milan, Italy. This
preprocessor has a twin in Category II.
\bull Sweet-teX is
a preprocessor for the Macintosh by Laurent Siebenmann, Math\'ematique,
Bat. 425, Univ. de Paris-Sud, 91405-Orsay, France; Tel (1)-69-41-79-49.
Available for the classic Mac and the Mac Plus; versions planned for the
Mac II and the Mac SE. French version and English version. See [Sieb]
\bull Mathor, for the
IBM PC, Novedit, avenue Hoggar, ZI Courtaboeuf, 91 Les Ulis, France. Tel
(1)-69-07-36-88.
\bull Easy\TeX\ (bis!),
for the Macintosh, written by O. Pironneau and distributed by Numerica, 23
Boulevard de Brandebourg, BP 215, 94203 Ivry-sur-Seine, France. A desk
accessory which works with the MacWrite word processor.
\bull Grife, for the
IBM AT and the Sun, by Vincent Quint and Ir\`ene Vatton, INRIA et
Laboratoire de G\'enie Informatique, BP 53X, 3801-Grenoble : Tel
(16)-76-51-48-59. See [TSD], [FQA]. Grife is not yet widely available; but
it is the only processor which aims to be a fully-featured ``dream system''.
\bull ChiWriter, for
the IBM PC, by the American Cay Horstmann; available in France from
Churing, 20 rue Condorcet, Paris 9. Tel (33-1)-40-15-07-47. ChiWriter is
a mathematical word processor which has recently been equipped with a
\TeX\ code generator.
\bull Publishing
companion 1.03 for WordPerfect (and others?) for the IBM PC, K-talk
communications, 3920 Olentangy River Rd., Columbus, Ohio 43214, USA, tel
(614)-459-9711.
\bull \TeX mate for
the IBM PC, by A. Lannes, Tr\'ema PAO, 18 Place Margnac, 31520 Toulouse.
\smallskip
\leftline{\sl Category II: Equation Editors}
\noindent
An equation editor offers an interactive environment for constructing
mathematical formulae in isolation. The formul\ae\ created in this way are
inserted subsequently into the mathematical article. (See also [Pal] and
the advertisements in Notices of the AMS, Jan. 1988.)
\bull Easy\TeX, for the IBM PC. See Category I.
\bull MathWriter,
Cooke Publications, PO Box 448, Ithaca, NY14852, USA. Tel
(607)-272-2708.
\bull MathType,
Design Science, 6475-B E. Pacific Highway, Suite 392, Long Beach,
CA9080. Tel (213)-433-0605.
\bull Formulator, by
Bob Pollard, Icon Technology Ltd., 9, Jarrom Street, Leicester LE2 7DH,
England.
\nonfrenchspacing
\medskip
I have listed only those preprocessors which are (or are claimed to be) in
service and which, during the composition of a document, display on the
screen something resembling the final printed text. The list is already
considerable and, doubtless, it is incomplete.
The preprocessors of Category I are not homogeneous. One can begin by
distinguishing those which are word processors in their own right. This is
the case for Mathor and Grife. By contrast, STRATEC Sweet-teX and
easy\TeX\ (Mac) are grafted onto preexisting word processors; which serves
to make them inexpensive and adaptable. (Sweet-teX works with any word
processor for the Mac using standard menu resources.) Next one can
distinguish the sub-category of preprocessors which exploit the concept
of ``high-level formatting''. This is true of Sweet-teX and Grife. In
contrast, this concept is largely neglected by Easy\TeX\ (Mac) and Mathor.
In Category I, one
sees a Latin dominance, which has a large French contingent, whilst in
Category II one sees an Anglo Saxon dominance. This should improve
international trade in both directions; for the two types are
complementary and, moreover, they can collaborate easily in the same
manuscript without any special programming to integrate them.
Suppose that, in
using the Type I preprocessor, one encounters an excessively complicated
formula. One might format it with the Type II formula processor (which is
often a desk accessory on the Macintosh) and proceed to transfer it into the
Type I manuscript using the clipboard to give visual continuity to the document.
To guarantee the correct insertion of the formula in the version of the
document formatted by \TeX, one could, for example, type, at the
appropriate insertion point, the command |\input Formula.tex| and then
give the name |Formula.tex| to the \TeX\ code generated by the Type II
preprocessor. This presupposes that the Type I preprocessor accepts \TeX\
code whenever one wishes, and that it will ignore the corresponding
graphical object.
I must admit that I
have not tried all of these preprocessors; and therefore my intention is to
make people aware of their potentialities rather than to conduct a detailed
assessment of them.
\medskip
\leftline{\sl What one may expect of a \TeX\ Preprocessor?}
\bull A device to help in learning \TeX{}. It is no longer necessary to
memorise accurately a long list of \TeX\ commands. STRATEC and Easy\TeX\ (Mac) are
both good tools for learning.
(My own
Sweet-teX is inferior in this respect because its high level formatting,
which is put into effect by a system of signposts or Icons, itself demands
some practice. Moreover, to enable it to collaborate with several
different word processors, Sweet-\TeX\ has hitherto employed a system of
invisible characters, which have proved hazardous for beginners. To
overcome this problem, I have recently constructed an enhanced version
which exploits the internal file structure of MacWrite).
\bull A way of preparing \TeX\ files which is significantly faster. The
speed advantage of preprocessors is not manifested for all typists nor for all
articles; but it does seem to me that it is overwhelmingly confirmed when
complicated mathematical articles are being processed by professional
typists.
\bull A working environment for the mathematician which, under favourable
conditions, can also become an environment for drafting and even for
research. This is likely to work best when the screen image is convincing
and the effort involved is modest.
\bull A better environment for correcting and polishing \TeX\ files. Even
typists who learn to write the \TeX\ code of complicated articles with
fluency tend to tear their hair when it comes to corrections; because the
effort of decoding (ie. of reading) \TeX\ is an exacting task. By contrast,
with a preprocessor, one can often, in making corrections, rely upon a
display of the mathematical formulae which is infinitely more readable.
\bull Versatility in formatting. One can hope to be able freely to change
the version of \TeX\ (Plain, \AmSTeX\ , \LaTeX\dots) and even to be able to quit
\TeX\ altogether to the extent that the article can be typed entirely in the
language of the preprocessor. This will certainly require, for each version
of \TeX\ , a specialised configuration of the transcoding mechanism. (At
present, Sweet-teX is adapted to plain \TeX\ and to \AmSTeX.)
\bull A more effective use of the (rare and expensive) talents of the
\TeX perts. A \TeX pert printer can supervise the work of a large number of
(less expensive) typists trained only in the use of the preprocessor, and he
can busy himself in proofreading their work in order to make corrections
and to enhance it with snippets of pure \TeX\ . The readability of the display
generated by the high-level formatter is the crucial factor here. For the
benefit of professional typesetters, I should emphasise that such a system
allows a master printer effectively to supervise the work of his
apprentices and to guarantee its quality.
\bull A compatibility between \TeX\ and the conventional way of typing
papers destined for journals printed in the traditional manner. Few
typists can be expected to work simultaneously in the more than one style
of technical publishing. It is too much to ask of them. Sweet-teX, Mathor
and Grife attempt to achieve this compatibility by offering a document
preparation style which is essentially the same for both \TeX\ and
traditional printing.
To summarise, there exist several new user interfaces for \TeX\ which, for
the first time, are compatible with the traditional methods of technical
typing. I predict that, in consequence, the seasoned professional typists
within our scientific institutions will progressively take over an large
proportion of the \TeX\ installations. As for commercial printers, it is to be
expected that they will replace their current keyboarding systems by
up-market preprocessors such as Grife.
\medskip
\noindent{\sl What the Preprocessors Can Expect from the Mathematics Community?}
\bull A greater social awareness on the part of mathematicians who are
experts in \TeX! Following the lead of those rare colleagues who have
authored a collection of macros for \TeX\ , it behoves them to question
whether, instead of coding their own manuscripts in \TeX\ , their time would
be better spent in guiding typists in the use of a \TeX\ system allied to a
preprocessor. My colleagues are often quite proficient as \TeX\ typists; but,
in view of their superior salaries, I often ask myself whether their
undeniable talents for abstraction would not be better employed in another
task which is a bit more subtle and a lot more pressing: namely to acquire
a knowledge of how to maintain such a system. Fortunately there exists,
to support such activity, an excellent little manual --- in French --- which is
about to be published [S\'er]. Also, fraternal assistance is now available via
GUTenberg [GUT] which is the French \TeX\ user group.
\bull A greater rigour on the part of mathematicians in the way they present
their articles. Only by grasping a complete and correct grammatical
structure can a typist settle questions of formatting. The advent of \TeX\
has abridged many traditional steps on the way to printed mathematics;
the remaining ones require and deserve additional care and attention.
\bull Training for typists involved with \TeX. Occasionally a typist who
starts with a preprocessor will become, by stages, a seasoned \TeX pert
typesetter.
\bull A greater appreciation of good typography on the part of scientific
administrators, allied with a concern for quality/price ratios. One
wonders what the typography of the Bourbaki seminar volumes etc. will be
like a few years hence. These are publications which are often the highest
mathematical quality, but which are still, in the main, produced with
typewriters.
\medskip
{\leftline{\sl References}\frenchspacing\parindent0pt\parskip3pt
[TSD1] Proceedings of the First European Conference on \TeX\ for Scientific
Documentation, Como, Italy, Addison-Wesley, 1985.
[TSD2] \TeX\ for Scientific Documentation, Springer Lecture Notes in
Computer Sci. 236, Ed. J. D\'esarmenien.
[FQA] R. Furuta, Vincent Quint, Jacques Andr\'e, Interactively editing
structured documents, Electronic Publishing 1, (April 1988), 19-44,
Pergamon Press.
[Pal] R. Palais, Mathematical Text Processing (last article), Notices Amer.
Math. Soc. (Mar., 1988), pages 391-396.
[Sieb] L. Siebenman, Towards Wider Use of \TeX\ Typesetting: A pre-\TeX\
Manifesto, Notices Amer. Math. Soc. 33 (Aug., 1986), pages 597-607.
[S\'er] R. S\'eroule, Le Petit Livre de \TeX, (in preparation), Laboratoire de
Typographie Informatis\'ee, 7 rue R. Descartes, Univ. L. Pasteur,
67084-Strasbourg, France.
[GUT] GUTenberg: Groupe francophone des Utilisateurs de \TeX{}. The group's
electronic message board has recently been inaugurated at the E.N.S., 45
rue d'Ulm, Paris V.}
\smallskip
\rightline{\sl Laurent Siebenmann}