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Re: [AUCTeX] ConTeXt MkIV Support

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: [AUCTeX] ConTeXt MkIV Support
Date: Fri, 09 Sep 2016 10:20:51 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.1.50 (gnu/linux)

Tobias Berndt <address@hidden> writes:

> please, do not misunderstand me. I have a quite clear idea of what it
> means to develop free software.

I am skeptical about that.

> I know, you guys are spending a lot of time and efforts maintaining
> such a big thing as Emacs' AucTeX. There are small budgets, you all
> having regular jobs and your private lifes and not all the time of the
> world. Most of your work has been done unpaid, just for the big goal
> itself---providing this wonderful TeX help system for Emacs: AucTeX!

Uh, wrong?  By far most of non-mainstream Free Software is developed
entirely without a budget and not because of some fuzzy idea of
philanthropy but because of an actual personal need.  Ongoing
maintenance and project leadership tends to develop in the context of
personal relations and feeling connected to a community.

But what you are asking about is a complete format support to be brought
up to scratch.  If you, as an active user of it, are not invested enough
to attempt doing it, why would you expect existing AUCTeX users who are
not actually using Context to be so?

In the end, it does not matter just how ardently you believe what
somebody else really should be doing.  Viable and convincing support for
Context users will not originate from anybody but Context users.

AUCTeX has only ever be really convincing in the context of LaTeX, and
that's because almost exclusively LaTeX users were working with it.

Its plain TeX modes are not really convincing.  The Texinfo mode seems
actually rather workable (I'm not sure how much of it is actually
borrowed from Emacs proper).  Context mode is rudimentary at best.

And this will not change without any active Context user taking up the
ball.  Other than that, there will only be window dressing changes.

If you are a LaTeX user, AUCTeX is good enough a reason to get
acquainted with Emacs even if you are not old-school.  And of course, if
you want to work with Texinfo, there is not much of a useful alternative
to Emacs (whether you use AUCTeX or not) as a syntax aware editor.

But for other TeX formats, AUCTeX is not strong enough as a "ok, I'll
learn Emacs" argument and it will take some dedicated Context user to
change that for Context.  Once you reach that stage, you'll likely
manage to attract a few other contributors by and by.

But that's not there yet, and sweet-talking existing developers who
aren't into Context is not going to lead there.

>>>Let me put it this way: Are you willing to ask the ConTeXt community
>>>if there is enough demand to crowdfund ConTeXt MkIV support in
>>>AUCTeX?  If there is a demand, we can look after a person who can do
>>>the job.
> No, I cannot do that because I am not an active member of the ConTeXt
> community (do not get me wrong this time: I'm not a ConTeXt fan; I
> just like/use its possibilities to do my work). What I can do is: If
> my company let me, I'll go to the next ConTeXt Meeting by the end of
> this month. There is a guy named Harald König. He is one of the
> ConTeXt developers, I guess, and he is an Emacs hacker (and probably
> good enough in programming LISP). Hence I could ask him to get in
> touch with you.

You'll have a hard time convincing me that Harald is not aware of the
existence of AUCTeX and the state of its Context support.  He's been in
plenty of AUCTeX talks when I still was still doing them.  So you'll
have to ring up some really convincing arguments to get him involved.
It's most certainly not a matter of "there is this great project you
probably never heard of that you were just waiting to join".

Context is not new, AUCTeX is not new.  Consequently rounding up the
usual suspects is not likely to make a difference, no matter how much
you want to believe that they are somehow infused with some angelic
essence making them better suited to delve into your interests and work
than you are.

>>>Given how many people in the maths community still use LaTeX 2.09,
>>>which should have been *dead* for some, I don't know, fifteen years
>>>or so - I seriously doubt that they will switch anytime soon.
> Since their only real interest in TeX is typesetting math, why they
> should be interested in switching to ConTeXt? They don't care about
> web formats, animated PDFs, interactive contents, document management,
> databases, program language support, METAFUN, clever text tools
> &c.pp. Just for typesetting math, even I would stay with LaTeX!

He was not talking LaTeX, but LaTeX2.09.  That has been superceded by
LaTeX2e in 1994.

> I really understand: Resources of time will be wisely managed within
> free software projects.

In most projects they are not managed at all since there _are_ no
resources to manage.  Some people want to do something, and they do it.
But nobody is in the position to tell people what they should be doing,
so there is no management.  Or rather, it consists in telling people
what they should _not_ be doing since it would be detrimental to the
code base or project targets.

> And popularity plays a certain role. But such projects succeeded not
> least because of the ravages of time, being up-the-date also with
> modern---not that popular yet---alternatives.

Smart talk won't get the job done.  If it did, I'd be emperor of the

David Kastrup

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