[NTG-pdftex] \pdfprimitive

Heiko Oberdiek oberdiek at uni-freiburg.de
Sat Apr 7 11:05:40 CEST 2007

On Fri, Apr 06, 2007 at 12:44:11PM +0100, Philip & Le Khanh wrote:

> As an aside, if I understand the function
> of \pdfprimitive correctly (that is, it
> allows access to a primitive whose name
> has been stolen), then it is (IMHO)
> singularly ill-named, in that it allows
> access to /all/ primitives (e.g., \show)
> rather than just PDF primitives ...  If
> this is the case, is there any chance of
> a better choice of name in a future release ?

The prefix \pdf does not mean PDF mode.
It marks a primitive that adds a new feature,
introduced by pdfTeX. (It's shorter than \pdftex).

A new primitive name can and will probably collide
with some existing macro name. It's impossible
to get and check all existing macro names.
  Thus each macro code provider would be forced
to check new pdfTeX versions for collisions with
new primitives to infinity. That's also impossible,
because many packages have lost their maintainers.
  As long as we don't have real namespaces, the
prefix method simulates a namespace. A macro code
provider who just avoids names starting with \pdf
is then out of trouble if new primitives are added.

Yours sincerely
  Heiko <oberdiek at uni-freiburg.de>

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