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1.11 TeX and other Electronic Publishing tools 

Furuta gives a good account of the history and early tools in relation with computer-assisted typesetting. However, since that paper Almost everybody can afford a PC, a laser(jet) printer, and some software (especially Wordwhatever or the PD (La)TeX).

TeX and intelligent editors 

Keyboarding compuscripts in (La)TeX can be assisted by (La)TeX intelligent editors, next to the use of templates as `fill-in' forms. This approach reduces errors like the level 1 endings, or non-matching braces. At this level we can also make use of spelling checkers and style assistants.

Wordwhatever and TeX? 

It is true that Word-you-name-it, has made the use of computers more popular. They replaced the typewriters, don't forget that. And of course that was a step forward. These are the tools the masses are using because of the sufficient and improved quality which can be obtained. This must be seen in context of course: most of the publications are just in-house reports, memos and the like.

For high-quality typesetting a TeX-like tool, high-resolution fonts and ipso facto printer, or viewer, are needed.
Because wordprocessors are so widespread and heavily used, it can be anticipated that users start from there and need TeX's formatting capabilities now and then. For that group there exist conversion software. Simpler, and better when it concerns complex structured copy, is to
output in ASCII from Wordwhatever
and insert (La)TeX markup.
And, of course, the wordprocessor can always be used as an editor for TeX, with taking advantage of the integrated spelling checker.

Troff or TeX? 

Troff preceded TeX. It comes with Unix. Both have been in use for the last decade. To begin with Knuth built upon Troff, Scribe and similar tools. On the other hand the Troff add-ons have learned from TeX. So there has been mutual influence.

With respect to the functionality the tools are comparable. Both aim at computer-assisted typography. But there is also a world of difference. Basically the difference is that Troff is a program which can be extended by independent preprocessors, and TeX is an extensible language itself, with plain TeX - the kernel program - device independent, that is the mapping on the media has to be done by independent drivers. That the latter was not in Troff can be discerned from the subsequent NRoff - with accompanying NEqn - and finally, Di-Roff, device-independent Roff. Furthermore, remember that TeX is just one of the twins.

Rumour has it that interest in Troff weakened because the early PCs did not come with unix, and that the kernel has remained undocumented (Its author Ossanna died in an accident.)

SGML and TeX? 

sgml stands for Standardized Generalized Markup Language. It is an effort to formalize markup, and is defined as a meta-language to define the markup language of each publication series into so-called Document Type Definitions, DTDs for short.

sgml is part of a huge standardization effort supported by the US military trough the CALS initiative. Other components are: FOSI - Formatted Output Specification Instance - and DSSSL. It is not so much a question of TeX or sgml, but more TeX and sgml.

TeX formats can learn a lot from the sgml approach and on the other hand sgml needs a formatter when it is used to print documents. This cooperative approach is known as

sgml the front-end, (La)TeX the back-end.
A diagram about the sgml-TeX relation is supplied in the accompanying picture.  
Figure 1.2SGML

SGML and Hypermedia? 

The following has taken from sgml faqs and Personal Computer Word, March 1992

`HyTime - Hypermedia/Time-based Structuring Language (ISO/IEC 10744). HyTime is a standard neutral markup language for representing hypertext, multimedia, hypermedia and time- and space-based documents in terms of their logical structure. Its purpose is to make hyperdocuments interoperable and maintainable over the long term. HyTime can be used to represent documents containing any combination of digital notations. HyTime is parsable as Standard Generalized Markup Language. HyTime was accepted as a full International Standard in spring 1992.

sgml's hypermedia capabilities have been beefed up in the sgml standard extension HyTime. Although it started out in life as a specific set of standards for representing music, it was soon realized that these could be generalized for multimedia. HyTime provides

  • sgml itself
  • Extended Hyperdocument management facilities, including support for various types of hyperlink
  • A Coordinate Addressing Facility which positions and synchronizes on-screen events. This allows authors to specify how hypermedia documents are to be rendered
  • Better version-control of comments and activity-tracking policy support.
HyTime has been adapted as the basis for hyperlinking in the US Department of Defense's Interactive Electronic Technical Manual project. HyTime is an extension of SGML, providing a set of syntactic constructs: it doesn't specify a processing system.'
In the nineties www (World Wide Web) emerged, accompanied by the sgml-oriented language html (HyperText Markup Language) to mark up www pages. Following these developments LaTeXto html converters were written (e.g. LaTeX2html and TeX4ht). The big step forward of the www approach is that we can browse through a document with all what is linked to it, transparently, as if all is available at the connected server. The user is relieved from the connection protocols and moving to the right directories in order to access the linked document parts.

TeX within the context of Electronic Publishing 

When we think about Electronic Publishing we can't avoid being aware of the life-cycle of publications. This obeys the biological invariant: produce, consume and reuse.

Life-cycle: producing

The production process has all to do with the dimensions
and with the characteristics

The flow can be depicted trough

Produce ® Distribute ® Consume
­ ­ ¯
reuse ¬ retrieve ¬ store

The big features are the unambiguous markup of copy trough (La)TeX and the lifetime of the TeX kernel. Therefore storing documents formatted by TeX, leaves the reuse aspect open. Reality has it that documents formatted trough TeX are easily redistributed trough the electronic networks, because it is all in ascii, and TeX is everywhere, so are its drivers.

My day-to-day reuse is transforming reports into articles and these into transparencies. In this work it is the other way round I'm recollecting elements I have set earlier.

Life-cycle: consuming

TeX's drivers have not paid attention to other representations as yet, although an exception is a driver for the blind. Difficulties in formatting languages different from English have been exercised in recent years. Undoubtedly research will be devoted to the aspects hinted at in the diagram given below with the dimensions


Senses : eyes, ears, tactile
Level : abridged, full, . . .
Language: English, Dutch, . . .

and with the characteristics

Of course the above aspects will keep research busy for some time to come. This is the direction multi-media development will be going.

Adobe has concentrated on the consumer aspects, and launched in the mid-nineties its Acrobat system. It abstracts from the document preparation system used. Acrobat transforms PostScript files into pdf files to facilitate exchange, because of the compact size of the file and the guaranteed availability of the fonts used trough substitution of fonts by the multiple master technology. Moreover, the consumer can search over document boundaries, can link various documents (or parts of), and can choose from various representations for consuming. Bound to succeed not only because new functionalities have been added, but also because various drawbacks have been attacked and solved. Their Acrobat reader has been released in the PD. The Acrobat distiller (transforms PostScript into pdf) and the Acrobat catalogue (to provide for linking) and more packages to come, have their price. The latest development in TeX makes it possible to generate pdf from TeX, taking a short-cut around dvi and PS, by using PDFTeX. Also new is that the freeware program Ghostscript is now able to convert PS to pdf, as an alternative to Acrobat distiller.

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