Define new macros for logical markup

When you encounter some logical markup, i.e. some things that belong to the same “class” and should be displayed equally (like names etc.), don’t use \textit and the like to format them but instead define a new macro to format those things. Then you’ll be consistent and you can change things later on quite easy.

Example
In your text there are lots of names, that should be – at the moment – displayed in italics. Then define a macro \person (or what ever you consider a meaningful name for these things) to format the output:

This gives you the opportunity to change the styling later and even do some fancy stuff like highlighting only the first occurrence of a name or generating an index with those names etc.

Some will say: “But I can just search and replace \textit later.” Yes but not if you used it also to format book titles or other things that should keep the italic format ;-)

Don’t use short cut macros

Today I took over a client’s project containing lots of definitions like

etc. Don’t do this! It’s absolutely awful to maintain and in some month when you get back on your document you’ll probably have forgotten what all those shortcuts mean. On a first sight they save some time while typing but that is actually a task for autocompletion and a proper editor. Furthermore things probably get complicated if you redefine (\renewcommand) macros that are already defined without knowing what you do and which other packages rely on the original definition …

It gets even worse if you share your documents with someone else and force them to learn you abbreviations, while e.g. \beta is perfectly clear for everyone. Not to think about a case where two authors use different definitions/abbreviations like

Thus: Don’t use shortcuts instead of the original macros and use “speaking” (meaningful) names for your macros.

Post updated according to Clemens’ and Moss’ comments.

Order of float placement parameters

Did you know that the order of the float placement specifiers h, t, b and p, like in

has absolutely no effect? Thus [hb] is exactly the same as [bh]: both allow the float only to be placed “here” or at the bottom but not the top of a page nor on a float page.

The order of possible positions is hard-coded in the algorithm: 1. here, 2. top of this page, 3. bottom of this page, 4. float page, 5. top of next page and finally 6. bottom of next page.

Get TeX Live 2016 now

The 2016 version of TeX Live (and MacTeX for Mac OS X users) is now available for download at tug.org/texlive (or tug.org/mactex in case of OS X). You can install TL 2016 beside older versions harmlessly and optionally delete the old version(s) afterwards to save some disk space.

Happy TeXing!

PS: Members of TUG and/or dante (and probably other TeX user groups) will receive a copy on DVD. So join the one of them 😉

TeXstudio 2.11.0 was released

There’s a new version of TeXstudio available at http://texstudio.sourceforge.net. Here are some of the many changes:

  • support two editors next to each other
  • new tabular wizard
  • improve table manipulation of tabu/longtabu
  • do not remove cursor mirrors on undo
  • several updates to col files

Point vs. Big Point

In TeX 1pt (point) is defined as 1/72.27 inch, which is the definition of the PostScript Point. Many other applications like Word and Adobe InDesign etc. however use a slightly bigger point – defined as 1/72 inch – the DTP Point. In TeX this unit is named Big Point: 1bp.

You may download a complete list of available units from my website: Length units in TeX (1.25 MB; direct download)

Event tip: TeX Users Group meeting 2016 Toronto

Early bird registration discount ends soon!

The TeX Users Group meeting 2016 will be in Toronto, July 25-27. There will be presentations about typesetting, fonts, tools, and more.

tuglogoUntil May 15 there’s a registration discount. That’s tomorrow! So there’s still the chance to register for less than the full price. In case you might miss it: I read in the fine print, that rates will increase after May 23, so there might be some further time to get that rate.

For students, no matter if member or not, there’s a significant discount: $100 instead of $350 (non student members). That’s an incredible offer, since the registration includes lunch on each day as well as morning and afternoon coffee breaks (breakfest usually included in the hotel fee).

Look at the program to see a list of presentation topics as of today. There you also can see how many people already registered from a lot of countries. You can find me there too, I plan to talk about TeX in industry.

Meet people from our TeX Users Group, that made TeX big, that provides the TeX Live software and ensures worldwide support!

Programming network switches and routers using TeX

I’m a network engineer, and a part of my job is configuring switches, routers and firewalls. I usually work with projects that have some thousands switches each: some core switches, server switches, many distribution switches, and a large amount of small access switches for users. I mainly make networks for cruise ships – just imagine a cruise ship with about 3000 passengers and 1000 crew: each cabin gets network access for IP-TV, IP telephone, air condition, programmable door lock, computer port. Not to forget let’s say 1000 WiFi access points, 300 CCTV cameras, cash machines, vending machines, office computers everywhere, even in the Spa, IP clocks, engine and nautical workstations, broadcast center and of cause redundant data centers with racks full of servers. For security reasons, there are hundreds of VLANs (virtual networks) in several (virtual) security domains.

How to configure and to manage all of this?

Let’s take a look at configurations:

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