The annual Speaker Meeting and AGM took place on Saturday at Trinity College, Oxford. We had a mix of talks and discussion as well of course the AGM. The talks were recorded and will appear shortly.
The day began as usual with some informal talk over coffee, giving everyone a chance to catch up or in several cases meet for the first time. We had a good turnout so there was a lot of lively discussion all day.
Joseph Wright kicked off the formal session by revisiting an area he’s looked at before:
xparse. This offers a way to define LaTeX syntax well beyond
\newcommand, and is one of the most popular ‘products’ of the LaTeX3 project. Joseph showed the good and (perhaps) less good in
xparse, with the overall picture being strongly positive. This led to interesting discussions focussed on who the
xparse syntax allows an abstract description of LaTeX syntax: a real benefit for using ‘TeX beyond TeX’.
Stefan Kottwitz, visiting from Lufthansa Industry Solutions, showed us how TeX and in particular TikZ can be used well beyond the normal academic focus of TeX. Stefan is using TikZ as a key part of his work documenting network systems in the cruise industry, and showed us how he can make use of the programming abilities it offers to produce accurate and readable documentation with ease. The talk was followed by lively and very impressed discussion on how TikZ is a real showcase for TeX more generally.
The final talk before lunch came by video link from Paulo Cereda in Brazil. Paulo talked this year about what might be regarded as an abstract concept: what is a template. He showed how there can be good and bad templates, and the fact that what users see and what programmers intend can be very different.
Lunch took us away from the meeting venue, and gave us all a chance to stretch our legs and explore a number of interesting topics (mostly TeX-related!). Back at the venue, we moved on to the AGM: details of the formal business have been sent separately to members.
The afternoon session started with a look back at the life of Sebastian Rahtz. Sebastian was a founder member of UK-TUG and perhaps the key driver in making TeX available outside of the mainframe computing sphere. David Carlisle shared with us some slides made by Phil Taylor and originally presented at the recent memorial to Sebastian.
Our Chair, Kaveh Bazargan, then spoke to us about a topic he first illustrated last year: creating interfaces for TeX that allow non-experts to exploit the power available. Kaveh focussed this year on using TikZ as a method to prepare graphics in journal production, and showed us a very impressive interface which avoids any code but also avoids the ‘mouse hell’ of a GUI.
We then moved on to a workshop on TeX in education. This was a lively session which will be written up in more detail in a future post. There was certainly a good degree of eagerness to use UK-TUG’s resources to promote TeX more widely, a theme indeed of the entire day.