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tug TUG 2002_ Thiruvananthapuram


  • pg 1
TUG 2002, Thiruvananthapuram
Michael A. Guravage                                                The Indian TEX Users group, The Indian chapter of
                                                                the Free Software Foundation, and the Kerala State De-
                                                                partment of Information Technology organized confer-
This past spring at BachoTEX Kaveh Bazargan made a pre-         ence, whose venue was a high tech office complex called
sentation for TUG 2002 to be held this year in India; the       Technopark located slightly north of Trivandrum in Korya-
first time a TUG conference has been held outside North          vattom. Every detail of the conference was meticulously
America or Europe. As he spoke I smiled and conjured            organized; for example, air conditioned bus was put at our
up images of far off Asia, but my mind said, “Impossi-          disposal for the forty minute commute from our hotel to
ble.” Well, as time went on, I found myself musing more         the conference venue and back everyday. For those unfa-
and more on the upcoming conference and India, then I re-       miliar with Indian traffic, each trip made us grateful we
called a few lines from a book written by G.K.Chesterton        were not in the driver’s seat.
entitled Orthodoxy:                                                For a tourist, driving in India is a truly terrifying experi-
                                                                ence. Image a narrow two lane highway where the center
     “What could be more delightful than to have in the         line is a mere suggestion, and on which pedestrians, bi-
      same few minutes all the fascinating terrors of go-       cycles, bullock carts, various household pets, motorcycles,
      ing abroad combined with all the humane security          rickshaws, autos, lorries, busses, and the odd elephant all
      of coming home again? . . . How can we contrive to        vie for position. The center line becomes a de facto pass-
      be at once astonished at the world and yet at home        ing lane, which means that passing vehicles are separated
      in it?”                                                   by a mere hand’s breath. As a result, automobiles have no
                                                                side view mirrors, or, if they do, they are neatly folded in.
The thought of going to far off and exotic India with a         To announce his presence, and his intention to pass, a driv-
group of people I know and whose company I enjoy, and           er toots his horn. I am convinced that Indians replace their
to be immersed in TEX, was becoming irresistible. I quick-      horns more often than their tires. Still, for all the chaos and
ly succumbed to this unique opportunity and began mak-          clamor, we never saw a traffic jam, a irate motorist, or an
ing plans. Thankfully, I found traveling companions in          accident.
Hans Hagen and Fabrice Popineau. Hans and my trip be-
gan when we flew from Amsterdam to Paris; there we met
Fabrice for the long-haul flight to Comumbo Sri Lanka,           Tutorials
and then the final leg to Trivandrum India. During the
                                                                Once at Technopark, the 63 delegates from 13 countries,
flight Both Hans and Fabrice worked on their presenta-
                                                                settled down to a program of tutorials and presentations.
tions, while I was confirmed as an unrehabilitated movie
                                                                Four tutorials given in the two days preceding the con-
                                                                ference proper. On Sunday C.V. Radhakrishnan, Kaveh
   After our long flight and a wait at the luggage carousel
                                                                Bazargan’s partner in Focal Image India, conducted an in-
where, for a moment, we wondered whether our bags had
                                                                troduction to TEX and Latex. Monday morning C.V. Rad-
arrived, it was a pleasure to see Kaveh’s smiling face as we
                                                                hakrishnan spoke again, this time describing Focal Im-
left the airport. Trivandrum, or Thiruvananthapuram, is the
                                                                age’s document work flow for typesetting Latex docu-
capital of Kerala State in South India. Built on seven hills,
                                                                ments. Monday afternoon Hans Hagen traced MetaPost’s
it name means, “city of the sacred snake” named after a
                                                                history and its place in the TEX family tree and, with help
hydra like serpent from Hindu mythology.
                                                                from examples from his METAFUN manual, showed how
   We, along with nearly all the other foreign guests, stayed
                                                                MetaPost graphics can easily be included in ConTEXt
at the Hotel Samudra in Kovalam some 17 kilometers south
                                                                documents. Tuesday, Sebastian Rahtz and Lou Bernard
of Trivandrum, a half hour drive from the airport. Kovalam
                                                                presented a full day tutorial on the Text Encoding Initia-
consists of three small crescent shaped beaches on the Ara-
                                                                tive (TEI). In the morning they showed how encoding, i.e.
bian sea. The hotel, run by the Kerala Tourist Development
                                                                markup, makes a text’s implicit structure and content ex-
Commission, is located on a hill overlooking one of these
                                                                plicit. This encoding is later used to analyze the text to
idyllic beaches.

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TUG 2002, Thiruvananthapuram                                                                                            tug

                                                                the Unicode standard and several recently introduced fea-
provide multiple readings. Interestingly, a TEI DTD is a
                                                                tures, he went on to enumerate several new requirements
hierarchy of core, base, and auxiliary modules which to-
                                                                for Omega, and concluded by reiterating how important
gether comprise a encoding tailored to a specific task – see
                                                                standards are.
their pizza metaphor for composing a DTD at <www.tei->. In the afternoon we surveyed the
XSL family of tools including: XSLT, XPATH, and XSL
                                                                Day Two – Thursday
                                                                The keynote speaker Thursday morning was Hans Ha-
                                                                gen who, in his talk entitled ‘ConTEXt XML and TEX’,
Day One – Wednesday                                             spoke about the current expectations of educational pub-
                                                                lishers and DTP. With an example from the journal of the
The conference proper began Wednesday morning. An ele-
                                                                Dutch Mathematical Society, Hans showed how ConTEXt
phant sporting a TEX banner and a musical ensemble of
                                                                supports XML driven document workflows that produces
traditional horns and drums called a panchavadyam greet-
                                                                high quality output to rival or exceed that produced by
ed participants at the conference venue. Satish Babu, head
                                                                commercial DTP systems. In a talk entitled, ‘Revisit-
of the Organizing Committee, chaired the opening session.
                                                                ing WYSIWYG Paradigms for Authoring Latex’, Kavid
Short addresses were given by two major conference spon-
                                                                Kastrup compared five WYSIWYG-like TEX editing sys-
sors: Ajay Shah from the Indian Ministry of Finance and
                                                                tems for ease of use and fidelity of visual feedback. Next,
Dr. K.R.Srivathsan from the International Institute for In-
                                                                Ross More from Macquarie University in Sydney spoke
formation Technology and Management. The first keynote
                                                                about ‘serendiPDF with searchable math-fields in PDF
speaker, Ajit Ranade, a chief economist at ANB AMRO,
                                                                documents.’ By storing the Latex source for a math
presented an overview of economic climate in India, and
                                                                environment in a hidden field inside a PDF document,
a detailed look into the Indian software industry and its
                                                                Acrobat Reader can be persuaded to display the Latex
consequences for TEX. He estimates that 8000 people in
                                                                source, which can be copied and pasted into other docu-
India currently earn their living using TEX. S. Rajkumar
                                                                ments. Stephen Watt from the University of Western On-
from Linuxense Information Systems followed with a pa-
                                                                tario followed with his paper entitled, ‘Conserving Implicit
per entitled, ‘Indic typesetting – Challenges and Oppor-
                                                                Mathematical Semantics in Conversion between TEX and
tunities’ where in he described the intrinsic complexity of
                                                                MathML.’ High level semantics are lost in the standard
Indic scripts, and the special processing necessary to trans-
                                                                translation procedure that recursively expands every macro
form them from Unicode text to font metrics TEX can use.
                                                                before translation. Alternatively, translations based on an
Of the 5000 commercial Indic fonts available, only 20 are
                                                                isomorphic mapping between higher order structures, e.g.
available in TEX. Next, Amitabh Trehan from the Mahat-
                                                                TEX macros and XLST templates, can preserve the math-
ma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya in Delhi
                                                                ematical semantics. Some may remember Karel Piska’s
presented a paper entitled ‘Typesetting in Hindi, Sanskrit
                                                                talk at BacoTEX where he compared CM and EC Type 1
and Persian.’ He suggested that the future of TEX is bound
                                                                fonts. This afternoon Karel, from the Czech Academy of
to its ability to typeset multiple languages. As proof, he
                                                                Sciences Institute of Physics, presented his work entitled,
showed a book of Indian verse completely typeset in Latex
                                                                ‘A Conversion of Public Indic Fonts from METAFONT in-
using the devnag, sanskrit, and ArabTEX packages. Con-
                                                                to Type 1 Format with TEXtrace.’ Taking the METAFONT
tinuing her work first presented at BachoTEX earlier this
                                                                sources for some 55 Indic fonts, he corrected and simpli-
year, Gyöngyi Bujdosó told delegates about her continu-
                                                                fied the resulting outline paths to produce scalable versions
ing work to instruct Latex in the subtleties of Hungarian
                                                                for inclusion in PDF documents. Next, Behdad Esfahbod
typographical conventions. After lunch Satish Babu from
                                                                from the Sharif University of Technology in Tehran spoke
the Computer Society of India spoke about, ‘New Horizons
                                                                about ‘FarsiTEX and the Iranian TEX Community.’ The ad-
of Free Software.’ India’s insatiable appetite for software,
                                                                vent of PDF has induced the FarsiTEX project team to in-
her populous and well educated work force, and her rela-
                                                                clude PostScript Type 1 fonts in the newest release. The
tively low per capita income combine to make Free Soft-
                                                                Persian character set and its inherent semantics make a
ware an essential model for software development on the
                                                                special text editor an essential part of the FarsiTEX sys-
subcontinent. With ‘The Tao of Fonts’ Wlodzimierz Bzyl
                                                                tem. However, supporting the bidirectional character of
combined METAFONT and type 3 fonts to dazzle us with
                                                                Persian in the editor remains problematic. Dennis Roegel
a variety of unique letter shapes – including hexagrams
                                                                from LORIA France presented, ‘MetaObj’: Very High-
from the Chinese book of changes (I Ching). The first day
                                                                Level Objects in MetaPost.’ He explained the structure
ended with Roozbeh Pournader from the Sharif Univer-
                                                                and use of MetaObj’s standard object classes which in-
sity of Technology in Tehran presenting a paper entitled,
                                                                cludes, among other things, boxes, containers, and trees.
’Unicode, the Moving Target.’ He began by describing

Najaar 2002                                                                                                              11
tug                                                                                                   Michael A. Guravage

                                                                familiar question, ‘how much does it cost?’ is there trans-
Karel Skoupy from ZTH in Zurich ended the day’s lectures
                                                                formed into, ‘how much am I willing to pay for that com-
with his proposal for a, ‘New Typesetting Language and
                                                                modity or service?’ For example, a rickshaw ride across
System Architecture.’ Besides supporting multiple input
                                                                town in the company of an Indian host cost 7 Rupees, or
and output formats, a new ‘modular’ architecture should
                                                                31/2 cents; the same trip the next day cost me 50 Rupees, a
have a single model for processing both text and graphics,
                                                                mere Euro. I was happy to pay the fare, even though it was
while separating language support from the typesetting en-
                                                                seven times the local rate. Such encounters are inevitable
                                                                when disparities in income are apparent.

Trivandrum Town
                                                                Day Three – Saturday
Friday’s conference schedule was interrupted by the threat
                                                                The conference resumed Saturday morning the TUG busi-
of a general strike called by local trade unions in protest
                                                                ness meeting first on the agenda. Ross Moore read the
of the local government’s proposed doubling of energy tar-
                                                                minutes from the Board of Directors meeting held in Port-
iffs. Since it was inadvisable to drive from the hotels to
                                                                land Oregon in July. Kaya Christiansen from the University
Technopark that day, the conference organizers tweaked
                                                                of Århus in Denmark then described the new TEX Devel-
the program schedule, leaving Friday free. Those who
                                                                opment Fund. Concern was raised over the late publica-
stayed at Hotel Samudra engaged in various TEX related
                                                                tion schedule for TUGBoat, and also at the revelation that
discussions, while David Kastrup gave a tutorial on the in-
                                                                TUG membership has fallen by 14% in each of the last
tricacies of TEX macro expansion that he was unable to give
                                                                two years. Finally, delegates were encouraged to put for-
earlier in the week.
                                                                ward nominations for President and Board members for the
   However, at the eleventh hour the government capitulat-
                                                                upcoming election in 2003.
ed, and the strike was called of. So, when the conference
                                                                   The technical program continued with G. Nagarjuna
organizers decided to stick with the revised schedule, Steve
                                                                speaking about, ‘The Semantic Web, gnowsys, and Online
Grathwol of Duke University Press and I set off for Trivan-
                                                                Publishing.’ He was followed by Dr. K.R. Srivathsan who
drum Town together in a three wheeled rickshaw.
                                                                described an ‘Education Grid’ – a system for coordinating
   This was my first visit to Asia, and though I had read
                                                                computer and educational resources for students in higher
about what to expect, the abstract never matches the actu-
                                                                education. Next, Hong Feng, founder and Chairman of the
al when traveling. In Trivandrum the market is confined
                                                                Chinese TEX Users Group, described Lojban – an unam-
with several forts, or gates, that define the town’s center.
                                                                biguous artificial language used to express Chinese text en-
Imagine center of Amsterdam or Utrecht, not filled with
                                                                coding in readable ASCII characters. K. Anilkumar from
shops, but with kraampjes – a perpetual Koninginnedag.
                                                                Linuxense Information Systems in Trivandrum concluded
In one shop someone is sewing on a single foot powered
                                                                the morning session with a presentation entitled, ‘Databas-
sewing machine. The next shop’s display of fresh fruit and
                                                                es, TEX and Online Complex Report Generation’ where
roasted nuts is a rapture for my eyes and nose. The ham-
                                                                he demonstrated how shell-escapes such as \write15,
mering from the next shop is someone trying to repair a
                                                                \write16, \write18, and \input can be harnessed to read
rickshaw’s frozen brake drum. And there are people every-
                                                                databases and generate reports. John Plaice from the Uni-
where: school children in uniform, beggars, businessmen
                                                                versity of New South Wales and co-author, along with Yan-
with cell phones, university students with books, house-
                                                                nis Haralambous, of Omega, described the ‘Low-level De-
wives with groceries, manual laborers, street vendors, and
                                                                vanagari Support for Omega.’ John went on to mention the
loiters – a city of more than a million souls, and I had no
                                                                improvements planned for Omaga 2, e.g. better diacrit-
idea where I could buy a pair of double A batteries.
                                                                ics placement, and even ventured to speculate that Oma-
   Trivandrum is a bustling city where every neighborhood
                                                                ga 3 would incorporate a new object oriented typographi-
seems to be a self contained village. The people we met
                                                                cal programming language, and depart from the tradition-
were generous to a fault. On one occasion I was invited
                                                                al TEX typesetting model. Fabrice Popineau from SUP-
to the home of one of the conference’s audio-visual tech-
                                                                ELEC in Metz told us all how ‘TEXLive 7 under Windows
nicians. When we arrived at his home, I was warmly wel-
                                                                has been improved with, among other things, extensions to
comed by he and his family. Later that evening, after a
                                                                Kpathsea to support URL syntax. Karl Skoupy made the
spicy dinner at a local restaurant, he refused to let me con-
                                                                last technical presentation of the conference with his pro-
tribute a cent to the cost of the meal or the petrol he used
                                                                posal for a ‘TEX File Server.’ Multiple TEX runs is the usu-
taking me back to the hotel.
                                                                al practicing for placing graphics and resolving references.
   We in the west are proud of our free market economies,
                                                                A TEX file server could save and reuse the data structures
but in India we encountered pure price discrimination.
                                                                currently lost between separate runs of Kpathsea.
Whether about silks or suitcases, spices or sea shells, the

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TUG 2002, Thiruvananthapuram                                                                                            tug

   After an invitation by Ross Moore and Wendy McKay           ing our stay. The Hindu, The Economic Times, and the
to join TUG 2003 in Hawaii, Dominic Wujastyk from Uni-         Business Express all ran articles reporting on the confer-
versity College London closed the conference by express-       ence with titles like: ‘Conference on TEX software’, ‘TEX
ing everyones thanks to the conference organizers for their    targets large Indian user group’, ‘Free scientific publish-
dedicated and tireless efforts in making TUG 2002 a suc-       ing software set to hit Asia’ in which Donald Knuth was
cess.                                                          described as a Info-tech guru. Later, The Hindu ran anoth-
                                                               er lengthy article in their business section entitled, ‘TEX:
                                                               a free tex-processing tool.’ With contributions from Do-
Cuisine & Entertainment                                        minik Wujastyk, Kaveh Bazargam, C.V. Radhakrishnan,
                                                               and K.G. Kamar, you may rest assured that the article was
I would be remiss if I did not mention that the conference
                                                               well informed.
delegates enjoyed delicious buffets for lunch at Technopark
and again for dinner at Hotel Samudra. The sun shone ev-
ery day, and in the evening we ate on tables set out on the
                                                               Backwater Tours
lawn under a clear sky of stars. Wednesday evening we
were treated to a demonstration of kalari payattu – the tra-   After the conference, several delegates engaged local tour
ditional Kerala martial arts form. Dominik Wujastyk told       operators for a cruise on the large lake and connecting wa-
the history of the art before the performance began; which     terways north of Trivandrum near the town of Alleppey and
included knives, swords, clubs, flaming staffs, and a par-      the coastal city of Cochin. Tourists can hire old rice barges
ticularly terrifying weapon which looked like a cross be-      that have been refurbished as wicker houseboats – replete
tween a sword and a whip. The official conference dinner        with bedrooms, a dining room, and a sitting-room. A crew
was held on Thursday evening; followed by a dance exhi-        of 3 or 4 man the boot and prepare your meals.
bition performed by children from the Sri Chitra home for         When our boat docked in the evening, we quickly dis-
the Poor and Destitute in Trivandrum, and a flute recital of    covered that the surrounding boats were all engaged by
classical Carnatic music by V. C. George.                      TEXies. It appeared that the conference has merely tak-
                                                               en ship. All those on our boat were part of a small group
                                                               whose accommodations every step along the way were al-
The Fourth Estate                                              ways addressed to a certain Mr. Hans. But that, my friends,
                                                               is an other story.
The conference appeared prominently in print media dur-

Najaar 2002                                                                                                              13

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