UK-TUG Discussion Meeting and AGM 2011

The annual UK-TUG Speaker Meeting and AGM took place yesterday at Trinity College, Oxford. The audience was small, but discussion was very lively.

Morning session

Joseph Wright began the day’s discussions with a report on the LaTeX training events run by UK-TUG in the last two years. He explained how the materials have been developed, leading to the source being available on GitHub. Joseph explained that the training is delivered with short sessions at the screen with a lot of opportunity for students to work on examples. Jonathan Fine suggested that videoing parts of course would be an opportunity to make the training more widely available. For this, an on-line LaTeX system would be needed. Joseph pointed to ScribTeX as an existing example. Jonathan also wondered about using the slide source to generate an HTML version of the material. Joseph said he’d look at this.

Simon Dales spoke next about documenting TeX sources. He described using Doxygen, a C tool, to take source comments and turn these into documentation in a variety of formats. He explained that this approach can avoid the need to decided in advance how to document code, but that Doxygen is too linked to C-style syntax to be the ideal tool for TeX. He showed a proof of concept demonstration using Doxygen, then described his second-generation approach to the problem, which he is currently implementing in Lua.

After lunch

Jonathan Fine gave the first talk in afternoon, looking at the opportunities presented by iPad and similar mobile devices. He first explained the Knuth was motivated to write TeX because of the limitations of photolithography in reproducing his books. Jonathan explained that the ePub format, used by most devices except the Kindle, is a compressed HTML5-based set of files. HTML5 features SVG as a key component, and Jonathan described how this allows typography in the webpage. Jonathan described how conversion from DVI to SVG can be used to get TeX quality output into ePub output. There was then a lively discussion about the challenges of mobile device typography.


The formal business of the day followed at 2 pm. A draft of full minutes for the AGM has already been circulated to members. The make up of the new committee was also announced:

  • Simon Dales
  • Jonathan Fine
  • Alun Moon
  • John Peters
  • Joseph Wright

The new committee will be making some more announcements in due course about other matters arising.

Afternoon session

After the AGM, Simon Dales talked about using LuaTeX for programming. He showed a simple Hello World document using Lua to include the text in a LaTeX file, then described the ability to load Lua modules. He showed how you can create your own modules to be loaded by Lua. As a fuller demonstration of the use of Lua, he showed how it allows processing of structured data to produce complex table.

Joseph Wright then talked about the site, and what advantages it has for new users over more traditional threaded lists and forums. He described the various features of the site, such as the Q&A structure, voting, reputation and the ability to edit material. Jonathan Fine is also registered on, and added a number of useful comments.

The day ended with a short stroll around Trinity College, which in the autumn sunshine was very pleasant indeed.