A deserved milestone

2014-09-08 by . 3 comments

You know him. A good friend.

Do you know he has a middle name?

I won’t tell you, though. It’s a secret.

It’s not listed in the index of The TeXbook, I’m afraid.

I will give you a hint: it starts with P.

P as in passionate about TeX and friends.

P as in patient, able to wait, to listen.

P as in peaceful, calm. And always eager to help.

P as in playful, pleasantly humorous.

P as in polite. A gentleman.

P as in proficient, skilled at TeX and friends.

P as in prominent, a true TeX demigod.

P as in proper, correct.

P as in poetic when writing code.

That’s him.

P as in David, David P. Carlisle.

Congrats, my friend.

Filed under TeX.sx

gitinfo2: LaTeX and git join forces

A pre-announcement

About 2½ years ago, I uploaded version 1 of gitinfo. Since then, I have received many emails suggesting features and asking for advice, but until now I just hadn’t had the time to act on them. Over the past few days, however, I’ve returned to those emails, and the end result is gitinfo2, which I’ve just submitted to CTAN.

gitinfo2 — the package

The purpose of gitinfo2, in a nutshell, is to give authors access to (selected) metadata from the git DVCS repository in which they are working on their documents. Through curiously-constructed hooks, git records certain key values when files are checked out, committed, or merged, and gitinfo2 makes those values available as document commands.

Since the values, and the file(s) in which they are recorded, have changed to allow new and better things, this is a new package, since updating the old would have condemned existing users to migrate their work to the new format.

The package lives here on GitHub, and here on CTAN. And in due course it should appear in your favourite TeX distribution.

As well as additional useful document commands, there are four main improvements and additions in gitinfo2, and I’ll describe these below: improved access to git tag information for sensible user-defined Version and Release numbers; watermarking with metadata; the ability to maintain documents in any part of the repository without having to make special arrangements; and, for memoir users, a cleaner way of setting metadata in the page footer.

Access to git tag data

gitinfo2 recognises git tags which begin with a digit, and contain a decimal point (such as ’2.1-beta’), as Release names. It searches the ancestors of the current branch for them, and makes the first one found available as \gitRel (and a few others).

As before, it also recognises decimal tags at the head of the current branch as Version numbers, and makes them available as \gitVtag (and a few others).

All the tags at the current branch head are collected as a comma-separated list, available as \gitTags.

Metadata watermarking

If instructed, gitinfo2 can place a watermark at the very foot of each page, centred on the paper (that is, unrelated to the Form of the Book, because it’s not really for publication). Here’s a sample. The watermark is in the magenta box (which is not part of it), and lies below the normal page footer (also generated by gitinfo2 with help from memoir). Before I hear snorts of typographical indignation, remember that the watermark is centered on the paper, not the textblock:

Watermark example output

One of three package options may be used to generate the watermark: [mark] is unconditional; [markifdraft] adds the watermark only for documents marked as draft in the options to the document class; and [markifdirty] adds the watermark if the repository working copy contained uncommitted changes after the last checkout, commit or merge.

Documents in any directory

Metadata from your git repository is written into a file called githeadInfo.gin. Formerly, this file had to live in the same directory as the document master TeX file, and if you wanted to place it somewhere other than in the root of the repository, you were obliged to make specific changes to the git hook scripts.

No more! gitHeadInfo.gin now lives in the .git directory at the root of the repository, and gitinfo2 now goes and sniffs it out, wherever the document may be. Well, within reason; if your document lives in a directory nested more than four levels below the root, gitinfo2 can’t find it unless you specify the package option [maxdepth=n].

Page styles for memoir users

In gitinfo, memoir users could specify that they wanted the package to alter the standard memoir page styles (plain, ruled, and headings) to incorporate revision information.

gitinfo2 has cleaned this up: the standard page styles are no longer changed, and the package provides three new page styles (giplain, giruled, and giheadings) which can be used in their place as and when the author requires.

Summing up

I’m really pleased with this, especially the new features. But I’m not qualified to judge, so I hope you’ll play with it, clone it and tinker at it, and send me feedback here, by email, or on TeX’n’Friends.

Brent Longborough

Filed under Packages, Workflow

StackExchange TUG Membership: Another Great Benefit

2014-01-02 by . 3 comments

StackExchange have been an institutional member of TUG since the idea was first raised by my fellow moderator Stefan Kottwitz a few years ago now. The idea was (and still is) simple: by supporting TUG, StackExchange shows real commitment to TeX, and in return gets some promotion in the TeX community. It’s very pleasing to see that this support will continue, and that we can select our eight ‘representatives’ for the year.

I’m hoping that we’ll see a range of ‘candidates’ appear. Some of our existing ‘reps’ are happy to see rotation, and it would be great to see some new faces in the list. I’d also like to hope for a good list of candidates: that’s a pretty good way to show how much the community on the site really do appreciate the continued support from StackExchange. So I’d encourage everyone to consider putting their name down: don’t be shy!

Filed under TeX.sx, TUG

Win the LaTeX Companion ebook – 10 days to go

Paulo has reviewed the LaTeX companion ebook for us, just days ago. Do you think you would like to get that book? There’s the chance to get it for free!

Currently there’s a contest on LaTeX-Community.org: users, who post an article on the web site have the chance to win the LaTeX Companion ebook. The author Frank Mittelbach provided a free download code. It’s available in EPUB, MOBI and PDF format.

The LaTeX Companion

To qualify, just write a small article and send to [email protected], it will be published on that site. The topic of this contest is: Recent developments in LaTeX.

“Recent” may mean some years, it’s not really strict. Awesome stuff such as biblatex, arara, TikZ, you know – additions to basic LaTeX. You can freely choose your topic. The article could be short like a blog post or comprehensive as you like.

The contest will end in 10 days, it will close on November 10, 2013.

You can find all details in the contest announcement.

On TeXwelt.de there’s an announcement for our German friends.

Filed under Books, Contests

The LaTeX Companion ebook

2013-10-16 by . 14 comments

Yesterday, I was going back home from a long journey in São Paulo. While waiting for the metro to take me to the bus station, I decided to revist a good ol’ companion, but this time, the encounter was about to happen outside the physical media: The LaTeX Companion as an ebook.


When I started using LaTeX, I was totally lost. What to do, what to read? Apparently, I should read The TeXbook — Don’s awesome book — but I was not really prepared for it (years later I’m still stuck somewhere in the middle of it, without seeing the light). But let us not forget one of Frank Mittelbach and friends’ magum opus: The LaTeX Companion.  Surprinsingly, the word Companion really suits the occasion and plays an important role: the book will be your friend, your companion, it will guide you through the typographic land. Ah, The LaTeX Companion is usually referred tenderly as TLC.

At the risk of being heretic, in my humble opinion this is the Holy TeX Trinity for me: The TeXbook, The LaTeX Companion and TeX by Topic. My favourite, of course, is TLC for obvious reasons: it saved me a lot of times. It was really a friend, a companion.


I must confess I also have The LaTeX3 interfaces printed, but that’s another story… and probably another blog post. :)

In October 2013, Frank made an earthshaking announcement in the The LaTeX Companion as an ebook thread in our community, and I quote verbatim:

I’m happy to announce that there is finally an eBook version of “The LaTeX Companion, 2ed” available. It was a rather challenging exercise due to the many examples in the book and the need to reproduce the example output faithfully on that media. Originally we thought that anything other than plain PDF is not going to be possible; however as it turned out both ePub and mobi (Kindle) came out surprisingly well. (Frank Mittelbach)


As much as I love my TLC copy, it’s quite complicated to carry that big book around. Frank kindly provided me a copy of the ebook format, and as soon as I had the opportunity, the file was already in my tablet, ready for the TeX fun to start all over again. Let’s take a look at the TLC on my iPad – first, the ePub version:


Let’s see some sample pages – of course, this is copyrighted material.

The cover:


About the ebook:


Table of contents:


Sample page:


Another sample page:


Now let’s take a look at the PDF version.

The cover:


The table of contents:


Of course, David has to appear in this blog post: :)


That’s it. :)

In my humble opinion, all available formats (ePub, Mobi and PDF) are great and handle different situations. I’m more of a PDF fan, but I can clearly see the benefits of the other ebook formats. The book looks gorgeous specially on a high resolution tablet display.

Now, let’s talk about the interesting part. The book is offered as a bundle with three formats (ePub, Mobi and PDF) on InformIT for $23.99. This is probably the best deal one can get, especially as there are no DRM applied (only a watermark, you probably saw my name on the pages, and that’s all).

In addition, there is a special promotion price (really intended for those who already have the book, but effectively it can be used by anybody). This offer is valid until December 31, 2013 and will reduce the price to $16.99. Let’s hear David:

I could do a review: It’s brilliant: buy it now, send extra donations to the authors! vim not mentioned! (David Carlisle)

David is absolutely right, except of course for the vim part. :)

To apply the special promotion price, one needs to add the following code during the checkout processing on InformIT: LATEXT2013  (case sensitive, please!).

Here’s the link to LaTeX Companion 2ed (ebook formats) icon. :)

Thank you very much, Frank! Vielen Dank!

Update 4: Friends, it’s important to note that while Pearson is not adding any DRM, som resellers may do so, and that makes, for example, the PDF become really unusable.

Update 3: Everything is working fine now. Yay! :)

Update 2: Friends, now it seems we have a problem with the price + discount. I poked Frank about it. More news yet to come. :)

Update 1: Friends, apparently the discount code is not working. I contacted Frank about it and hopefully this issue will be fixed as soon as possible. I’ll update this blog post accordingly. :)

Filed under Books, LaTeX

TeXtalk: an interview with Khaled Hosny

2013-09-03 by . 2 comments


Hello friends, welcome to the TeXtalk! We have a very special guest for today’s interview: our friend Khaled Hosny, 13k+ rep, 96+ badges, a very active member of our community and our XeTeX/LuaTeX resident expert. Get ready for this awesome interview!

more »

Filed under Interviews

A new milestone

2013-07-11 by . 13 comments

Once upon a time, there was an Algebra professor.


He was Italian.


He loved sports.


He had a motorbike.


He loved to tour all around Europe.


But most of all, he was passionate about TeX.


Almost 30 years ago, he entered a room.


And he saw a book.


The book.


And he read it.


He was able to quote everything from it.


He was a member of several user groups.


And one group in special.


He reached an impressive milestone today.


A great day for TeX.


Knuth would be proud.


We all feel honoured.


His friendship.


His devotion to make the world a better place.


To make TeX being known and loved.


To spread kindness.


Legends live on.


Congratulations, my friend.

Filed under TeX.sx

TeXtalk: an interview with Nicola Talbot

2013-06-08 by . 4 comments


Welcome to the TeXtalk! We have a very special guest for today’s interview: our friend Nicola Talbot, 3k+ rep, 20+ badges, 55+ answers, package writer, and author of a great series of TeXnical books! Get ready for this awesome interview!

more »

Filed under Interviews

“Beware the tikzmark, my son.”

2013-04-18 by . 2 comments

It has finally happened. The tikzmark has burst its bonds and is loose upon an unsuspecting TeX public. We can only hope that they are spared the worst of it.

No-one, repeat no-one, should download it from CTAN unless they truly understand the consequences of using the tikzmark. There is a tikzmark support group for those who find themselves (ab)using it and who need help.

more »

Filed under LaTeX, Packages, TikZ

How can I draw a knot in TeX? Let me count the ways.

2013-04-15 by . 9 comments

Knot theory is an area of mathematics that usually comes under the aegis of topology and geometry, though it can reach as far as physics and biology and shoelaces. At the cutting edge it involves quite intricate and complicated mathematics, but it is one of those areas where it is quite easy to grasp the basics quite possibly because of the simplicity of the central concept and the visual nature of the subject.

Drawing them, though, is something of an art. In this post I’ll introduce some new tools for helping draw knots, and similar diagrams using one new TikZ library, knots[^1], and one updated one, hobby.

more »

Filed under LaTeX, Packages, TeX.sx, TikZ