[NTG-context] Global pagination optimisation

Hans Hagen j.hagen at xs4all.nl
Sun Nov 22 23:58:28 CET 2020

On 11/22/2020 7:58 PM, Joseph wrote:
> Dear list,
> Out of curiosity.
> Perhaps a question already discussed but wondering if there were plans 
> to implement eventually in LMTX an equivalent of framework described in 
> article 2018-01-FMi-CI-Journal-28454894_as_submitted.pdf 
> (latex-project.org) 
> <https://www.latex-project.org/publications/2018-01-FMi-CI-Journal-28454894_as_submitted.pdf> 
> or something similarĀ ?
When cooking up solutions I normally start from practical cases, not 
from something like discussed in there. I'm more a 'play with something 
and see how it works out' than 'read all kind of theoretical stuff' (I 
simply don't have the patience for reading up on that). So, context 
evolved from use cases and solutions needed. Often solutions then go 
through some iterations. It helps that right from the start context was 
set up to make extensions relatively easy. Theoretical discussions on 
typesetting are wasted on me, sorry. (For the record: I read a lot, on 
all kind of topics, but the last time I read something about 
typographics is more than a decade ago.)

Now, when discussing document wide optimizations ... I played with that 
long ago but kind of stopped when it became clear that it's too easy to 
get oscilliation. An interesting suggestion Herman Zaph made when we 
discussed this was that like horizontal hz (expansion in tex) one could 
also do that vertical: no one will notice it, no matter what folks claim 
to notice. That would actually solve quite some issues. It was easy to 
make a quick demo then and I might actually bring that into context (if 
I can find back the code). Trial and error is my friend (of course with 
a dose of thinking and feedback).

It is no big deal to cook up a solution for some subclass of well 
defined problems (say: text only with an occasional display element) but 
it happens that tex is seldom the candidate for that. Problems show up 
when you have plenty of extra elements, backgrounds, floats, notes, etc. 
All kind of tricky interactions and constraints. My personal opinion is 
that there are no perfect automatic solutions for cases where in fact 
the visual appearance matters more: that is why desk top publishing 
works ok for complex layouts (it just pays off). It all has to do with 
the solution space. Just use the right tool for the job.

Actually, before looking at complex cases it probably makes more sense 
to make simple cases look nice and probably the majority of documents 
one can find on the web done with tex look quite average. So, from the 
context perspective it makes more sense to chellenge users to make nice 
documents and provide the means for that, even it occasionally means 
some hand work.

Now, with respect to future plans for context / lmtx: I do have some 
things on the agenda because there are some half finished experimental 
mechanisms in context that could use a bit of help from the engine, but 
first I want to finish what we currently have. But, as mentioned: the 
starting point is 'user demand' and 'useability' (there are for instance 
some things Thomas and I look at occasionally wrt parallel texts that we 
need to pick up). And, as with all in context, it starts by just looking 
at what is needed, and playing around to get a feeling. Personally it's 
more about (visual) fun than about neccessity.

So: feel free to come up with demands but keep it practical and keep 
useability and constraints in mind and perspective.


ps. When it comes to columns ... I don't see much of a future in them, 
because on devices one doesn't have the constraints of paper: why 
complicate ones live. We moved on in other areas too. Actually, if a pdf 
viewer could handle a page with height 5 meter well (wrt go back) then 
each chapter would be one page and we got rid of floats too. Ok, one 
could also use html then -) Of course in magazines, news papers, large 
size stuff, separate text flows make sense but that is typically not the 
domain where tex makes muich sense.

                                           Hans Hagen | PRAGMA ADE
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        tel: 038 477 53 69 | www.pragma-ade.nl | www.pragma-pod.nl

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