TUG 2016 – Day 2 – Figures to Fonts

The second day of TUG 2016 was again full of interesting talks spanning from user experiences to highly technical details about astrological chart drawing, and graphical user interfaces to TikZ to the invited talk by Robert Bringhurst on the Palatino family of fonts.

tug2016-bringhurst

With all these interesting things there is only one thing to compain – I cannot get out of the dark basement and enjoy the city…

After a evening full of sake and a good night’s sleep we were ready to dive into the second day of TUG.

Kaveh Bazargan – A graphical user interface for TikZ

The opening speaker of Day 2 was Kaveh. He first gave us a quick run-down on what he is doing for business and what challenges publishers are facing in these times. After that he introduced us to his new development of a command line graphical user interface for TikZ. I wrote command line on purpose, because the editing operations are short commands issued on a kind of command line, which will give an immediate graphical feedback. Basic of the technique is a simplified TikZ-like meta language that is not only easy to write, but also easy to parse.

While the amount of supported commands and features of TikZ is still quite small, I think the basic idea is a good one, and there is a good potential in it.

Matthew Skala – Astrological charts with horoscop and starfont

Next up was Matthew who introduced us to the involved task of typesetting astrological charts. He included comparisons with various commercial and open source solutions, where Matthew of course, but me too, felt that his charts came of quite well!

As an extra bonus we got some charts of famous singers, as well as the TUG 2016 horoscope.

David Tulett – Development of an e-textbook using LaTeX and PStricks

David reported on his project to develop an e-textbook on decision modeling (lots of math!) using LaTeX and PStricks. His e-book is of course a PDF. There were a lot of very welcoming feedback – free (CC-BY-NC-ND) textbooks for sciences are rare and we need more of them.

Christian Gagné – An Emacs-based writing workflow inspired by TeX and WEB, targeting the Web

Christian’s talk turned around editing and publishing using org-mode of Emacs and the various levels of macros one can use in this setup. He finished with a largely incomprehensible vision of a future equational logic based notation mode. I have used equational logic in my day-in-day-out job, and I am not completely convinced that this is a good approach for typesetting and publishing – but who knows, I am looking forward to a more logic-based approach!

Barbara Beeton, Frank Mittelbach – In memoriam: Sebastian Rahtz (1955-2016)

Frank recalled Sebastian’s many contribution to a huge variety of fields, and recalled our much missed colleague with many photos and anecdotes.

Jim Hefferon – A LaTeX reference manual

Jim reported about the current state of a LaTeX reference manual, which tries to provide a documentation orthogonally to the many introduction and user guides available, by providing a straight down-to-earth reference manual with all the technical bells and whistles necessary.

As I had to write myself a reference manual for a computer language, it was very interested to see how they dealt with many of the same problems I am facing.

Arthur Reutenauer, Mojca Miklavec – Hyphenation past and future: hyph-utf8 and patgen

Arthur reports about the current statue of the hyphenation pattern project, and in particular the license and usage hell they recently came into with large cooperations simply grabbing the patterns without proper attribution.

In a second part he gave a rough sketch of his shot at a reimplementation of patgen. Unfortunately he wrote in rather unreadable hand-writing on a flip-chart, which made only the first line audience to actually see what he was writing.

Federico Garcia-De Castro – TeXcel?

As an artist organizing large festivals Federico has to fight with financial planning and reports. He seemed not content with the abilities of the usual suspects, so he developed a way to do Excel like book-keeping in TeX. Nice idea, I hope I can use that system for the next conference I have to organize!

Jennifer Claudio – A brief reflection on TeX and end-user needs

Last speaker in the morning session was Jennifer who gave us a new and end-user’s view onto the TeX environment, and the respective needs. These kind of talks are a very much welcomed contrast to technical talks and hopefully all of us developers take home some of her suggestions.

Sungmin Kim, Jaeyoung Choi, Geunho Jeong – MFCONFIG: Metafont plug-in module for the Freetype rasterizer

Jaeyoung reported about an impressive project to make Metafont fonts available to fontconfig and thus windowing systems. He also explained their development of a new font format Stemfont, which is a Metafont-like system that can work also for CJK fonts, and which they envisage to be built into all kind of mobile devices.

Michael Sharpe – New font offerings — Cochineal, Nimbus15 and LibertinusT1Math

Michael reports about his last font projects. The first two being extensions of the half-made half-butchered rereleased URW fonts, as well as his first (?) math font project.

I talked to him over lunch one day, and asked him how many man-days he need for these fonts, and his answer was speaking a lot: For the really messed up new URW fonts, like Cochineal, he guessed about 5 man-months of work, while other fonts only needed a few days. I think we all can be deeply thankful to all the work he is investing into all these font projects.

Robert Bringhurst – The evolution of the Palatino tribe

The second invited talk was Robert Bringhurst, famous for his wide contributions to typpography, book culture in general, as well as poetry. He gave a quick historic overview on the development of the Palatino tribe of fonts, with lots of beautiful photos.

I was really looking forward to Robert’s talk, and my expectations were extremely high. And unfortunately I must say I was quite disappointed. Maybe it is his style of presentation, but the feeling he transfered to me (the audience?) was that he was going through a necessary medical check, not much enjoying the presentation. Also, the content itself was not really full of his own ideas or thoughts, but a rather superficial listing of historical facts.

Of course, a person like Robert Bringhurst is so full of anecdotes and background knowledge still was a great pleasure to listen and lots of things to learn, I only hoped for a bit more enthusiasm.

TUG Annual General Meeting

The afternoon session finished with the TUG Annual General Meeting, reports will be sent out soon to all TUG members.

Herbert Schulz – Optional workshop: TeXShop tips & tricks

After the AGM, Herbert from MacTeX and TeXShop gave an on-the-spot workshop on TeXShop. Since I am not a Mac user, I skipped on that.


Another late afternoon program consisted of an excursion to Eliot’s bookshop, where many of us stacked up on great books. This time again I skipped and took a nap.

In the evening we had a rather interesting informal dinner in the food court of some building, where only two shops were open and all of us lined up in front of the Japanese Curry shop, and then gulped down from plastic boxes. Hmm, not my style I have to say, not even for informal dinner. But at least I could meet up with a colleague from Debian and get some gpg key signing done. And of course, talking to all kind of people around.

The last step for me was in the pub opposite the hotel, with beer and whiskey/scotch selected by specialists in the field.

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