TUG 2013 – Day 4

TUG 2013Some remarks about the last day of the TUG 2013 in Tokyo. For the first see TUG 2013 – Day 1, for the second TUG 2013 – Day 2, and for the third TUG 2013 – Day 3 Excursion.

The last day brought a wild mixture of math, fonts, touching various aspects and exhibiting the power of TeX & Friends far from the original intended target.


The last day started with a two talks and two short tutorials related to Japanese typesetting and typography:

  • Matthew Skala – Tsukurimashou: A Japanese-language font meta-family (abstract, slides)
  • Takuji Tanaka – upTeX—Unicode version of pTeX with CJK extensions (abstract, slides)
  • Hiroki Kanou – On the Possibility of Automatic Balancing of Ideograhic Character Design (slides)
  • Haruhiko Okumura – Japanese Typesetting for the Mathematically Oriented (slides)

In the first talk Matthew Skala introduced the audience in a very humoristic style to the components of Kanji, and how he is using them in building up a Metafont family for Japanese (and more). Enriched with lots of Manga-like cartoons and episodes he not only presented the essentials of his Tsukurimashou project, but also additional tools for searching in large Kanji-corpora for constituents. For a practical one-man-project an impressive achievement. The next talk also featured a one-man project: Takuji Tanaka’s upTeX, a Unicode-enabled version of pTeX, the main typesetting engine in Japan. I myself am deeply in gratitude to Tanaka-san, as I am using upTeX practically exclusively. Many of my files are UTF8, and in addition contain not only ASCII, but also German Umlauts and other Latin1 characters. A breeze with upTeX – big thanks!

After the two regular talks a presentation on the History of TeX in China was scheduled. Unfortunately due to Visa problems it had to be canceled, and two Japanese colleagues graciously stepped forward to give short tutorials on specific aspects: The first one was by Hiroki Kanou on Automatic Balancing in Character Design. I think the few participants included in the audience did really enjoy the presentations, as it gave interesting points on how to balance stroke width in ideographic characters to achieve a balanced output. What type designers for Latin characters normally do on a one-by-one basis for characters requires some approach of automation to be applicable in the context of thousands of ideographs. The second tutorial by Haruhiko Okumura recapitulated the spacing aspect of the tutorial on Japanese Text Layout from the second day, but targeting mathematicians, by providing a representation of the spacing rules compressed into a simple table.

After the obligatory group photo we had another session before lunch with two excellent presentations on the power of TeX:

  • Ken Nakano & Hajime Kobayashi – A case study: Typesetting old documents of Japan (abstract, slides)
  • Jin-Hwan Cho – A case study on TeX’s superior power: Giving different colors to building blocks of Korean syllables (abstract, slides)

Ken Nakano told us about the great pains their company has to go through to typeset old documents, with all the scientific necessities of corrections, corrections of corrections, corrections of corrections of corrections … and so on. Packaging all these specialities into macros and producing an actual well-printed book was very impressive. During my studies of Latin and Greek I was often confronted with “critical apparatus” as it is called, pages of references and citations and quotations. But what was shown there surpassed the worst critical apparatus I have ever seen.

The last talk before lunch was from our honored guest from Korea, Jin-Hwan Cho, well known for his contributions to various Korean TeX packages as well as the main author of dvipdfmx, widely used not only in Korea, but also Japan. His talk gave a short introduction to the Hangul characters and their formation, followed by an excursion into auto-composition of all the Hangul characters from relatively few components. And as a consequence the ability to display the parts of Hangul ideographs in different colors, something completely unthinkable with any other software. It was particularly interesting for me to see the relation between the first talk and this one, both touching the problem of how to compose glyphs from simpler components.


The first session in the afternoon brought three talks:

  • Michael Cohen, Boris Veytsman – The multibibliography package (abstract, slides)
  • Pavneet Arora – TANSU: A workflow for cabinet layout (slides)
  • John Plaice – Typesetting and Layout in Multiple Directions (abstract, slides)

Michel Cohen and Boris Veytsman presented a new approach to bibliographies, based on the idea that having references sorted in only one way might not be sufficient, and differently sorted views onto the references should be provided. I think an excellent idea, considering online publications where page limits are not so strict, especially for all those bibliographies with hundreds of entries. I see a great potential for this idea, but would like to see it integrated into biblatex package.

Pavneet Arora gave us a few into a different world, the world of interior design, especially quick sketch-ups of cabinets using TeX and friends. Integrating many different tools (YAML, TeX, Asymptote, etc) into a professional workflow.

Before the break John Plaice, renowned for the creation of Omega, guided us through the intricacies of typesetting directions and mixing them. With the long years of experience John has in dealing with these problems, he gave a concise and clear blueprint for a complete support of the necessary text directions, as well as guidance in the problems of mixing directions. His examples were very elaborate – but most impressive was how fast and without any failure he could pronounce the word “pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis”.

After another short break followed the last session of this conference:

  • Ross Moore – Making mathematical content accessible using Tagged PDF and LaTeX (abstract)
  • Hans Hagen – How we move(d) on with math (abstract, slides)
  • Shinsaku Fujita – The XyMTeX system for publishing interdisciplinary chemistry/mathematics books (abstract, slides)
  • Norbert Preining – Distributing TeX and friends: methods, pitfalls, advice (abstract, slides)

Accessibility is getting more and more often a requirement for many publications. Ross Moore gave us a view onto what is possible with tagging PDFs for proper audio-reproduction. The demonstrations were quite funny, because the Adobe Acrobat program seems to randomly decide which document to read out loud, and then stick to it for a long time. Still, it was impressive to see what difference in the PDF content by adding some features can be achieved in the audio output.

After this multimedia experience we returned to the original virtues of TeX in Hans Hagen’s talk on math typesetting. Recapitulating the history and presenting the current status, Hans came to the sad conclusion that TeX is not anymore paving the way, but running behind other players. But he didn’t leave us completely without hope, as the cards are remixed several times, TeX might jump forward again with new techniques mixing OpenType features with the layout excellence of TeX.

The following talk by Shinsaku Fujita on th XyMTeX system gave insights into the development and usage of this drawing package for chemical structural formulas. Enriched with many examples from his books it was a great pleasure to see XyMTeX in actions. Now, if we only would have a new version in TeX Live.

I myself had the honor to give the last talk of the conference on Distributing TeX Live. I tried to give a quick overview on what distributors (like Debian, RedHat, SuSE, etc) have to take care for when re-packaging TeX Live for the respective distributions. Since I am involved in both the upstream development of TeX Live as well as the Debian packaging of TeX Live, I thought it might be good to sum up the biggest mistakes and errors we often hear.

Another full day was finished, and I also had the honor to give the closing remarks.

Closing and Conference Dinner

… to be continued soon … see TUG 2013 – Closing

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