LaTeX forum ⇒ Community talkComing back to TeX and friends after 15 years (or more)

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Oscaruzzo
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Jan 15, 2022 4:47 pm

Coming back to TeX and friends after 15 years (or more)

Postby Oscaruzzo » Sat Jan 15, 2022 5:03 pm

Hi everybody,

I'm "coming back" to the TeX (and friends) world after some time (i.e. 15-20 years ago). If I remember correctly, when I last used LaTeX for my master thesis, the situation was more or less like this:
* LaTeX whas the "common" choice for structured documents
* Fonts were bitmap, and anything different from Computer Modern was a PITA (I had to do some resarch and hacks before I could use a Type1 font)
* Output was DVI and going to PDF was a two/three steps procedure
* I made all figures with MetaPost, and that was somehow "novel"
* I used to use a text editor, vim (and probably will, I don't like WYSIWYG and the like)
* "THE" community was the comp.text.tex newsgroup

Now I suppose something has evolved. Is still LaTeX the way to go? What happened of LaTeX3? Or should I look at other formats like Context (if it's still alive). Is font management the way it was in 2000? I see there are some "new engines" like luaTex, eTex, pdfTex, pdfeTex, etc. What is "the new normal"? Also I see the newsgroup is now mainly CTAN announcements. What are the main places where to go for help? What is the most "lively" community? Am I in the right place? :D

Thanks in advance (and sorry for any mistakes, English is not my language).

Recommended reading 2021:

LaTeXguide.org • LaTeX-Cookbook.net
LaTeX Beginner's Guide LaTeX Cookbook
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Ijon Tichy
Posts: 640
Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2018 10:12 am

Coming back to TeX and friends after 15 years (or more)

Postby Ijon Tichy » Sat Jan 15, 2022 7:32 pm

Please read an up-to-date introduction to LaTeX. There a lot of changes in the last 15—20 years. For the changes of the LaTeX kernel see ltnews. For the big amount of packages see the package list of an up-to-date TeX distribution or CTAN.

Which engine is recommended? Mostly LuaTeX (so LuaLaTeX for LaTeX). It is the newest one. But PDFLaTeX is still common. XeLaTeX is a little but outdated, because it often has problems with loading fonts by name (instead of filename) and LuaLaTeX provides almost all most XeLaTeX users need and has several other advantages (e.g. the improved memory handling and the Lua engine). Nearly nobody uses LaTeX with DVI output (except the implicit usage, i.e, by auto-pst-pdf or pstool).

You still can use MetaPost for your images. But TikZ is more common and pstricks still has its fandom and raison d'être.
Sorry, but I can no longer participate here as the administrator is trampling on my wishes on one of his other platforms. :cry:

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Stefan Kottwitz
Site Admin
Posts: 9861
Joined: Mon Mar 10, 2008 9:44 pm

Coming back to TeX and friends after 15 years (or more)

Postby Stefan Kottwitz » Sun Jan 16, 2022 1:35 pm

Hi Oscaruzzo,

welcome to the forum!

Oscaruzzo wrote:Now I suppose something has evolved.


Indeed, as Ijon said. Hard to give a summary. The ltnews are a good source regarding core LaTeX, but there has been much progress regarding classes and packages over time.

Oscaruzzo wrote:Is still LaTeX the way to go?


Of course it is :-) Word and Libre (Open) Office are not as bad as 15 years ago, but LaTeX improved a lot and is still the best for academic writing.

Oscaruzzo wrote:What happened of LaTeX3?


Development got faster in the recent years. At least for now it turns out that it doesn't replace LaTeX2e (yet) but as a new programming layer it is already used a lot for development of LaTeX2e packages. So we LaTeX users already use LaTeX3 a lot, without using its syntax.

Oscaruzzo wrote:Or should I look at other formats like Context (if it's still alive).


Still exotic, still alive.

Oscaruzzo wrote:Is font management the way it was in 2000?


It still works, though there are new ways. You can simply use system fonts, OpenType fonts or TrueType fonts without headache. LuaLaTeX and XeLaTeX have that capability built in.

Oscaruzzo wrote:I see there are some "new engines" like luaTex, eTex, pdfTex, pdfeTex, etc. What is "the new normal"?


The new normal is pdfTeX, though with LuaTeX you have much easier font handling, improved memory handling, programming features. So I see pdfTeX but would use or recomment LuaTeX as Ijon said.

Oscaruzzo wrote:Also I see the newsgroup is now mainly CTAN announcements.


Yes, it got quiet after web forums and Q&A sites emerged.

Oscaruzzo wrote:What are the main places where to go for help? What is the most "lively" community?


As a discussion forum, here is a very good place. A more lively community is TeX StackExchange, which is a strict Question & Answer site, where hard questions are solved, while easier questions that usually happened earlier are quickly closed as duplicate, and discussion threads are discouraged. It would never happen that you get a talk like this there. ;-)

Oscaruzzo wrote:Am I in the right place? :D


Yes.

Other places, also maintained by me, are here: LaTeX.net/about. Perhaps enjoy a look at LaTeX galleries such as TikZ.net.

Oscaruzzo wrote:English is not my language).


Same for me and Ijon, and many more. :-)

Stefan
LaTeX.org admin

Oscaruzzo
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Jan 15, 2022 4:47 pm

Coming back to TeX and friends after 15 years (or more)

Postby Oscaruzzo » Sun Feb 20, 2022 11:31 pm

Thank you for your kind answers, and sorry for not replying sooner (I was expecting mail notifications, sorry). What "up-to-date introduction to LaTeX" would you suggest? I see the "not so short introduction to latex" has been updated in 2021... In the meanwhile will investigate your suggested links. I just learned about https://texdoc.org/index.html , it didn't exist at the time (I think). Thanks again.


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