[tex4ht] why arxiv.org choose LaTeXML and not tex4ht for making HTML pages?

William F Hammond gellmu at gmail.com
Thu Mar 10 03:49:58 CET 2022

Deyan --

Yesterday you wrote:

> The idea of a profiled, or constrained, use of LaTeX has revealed
> itself to be self-defeating during the last decade in a somewhat
> amusing way.

There can and should be many profiles.  Even I, in writing, might work with
several LaTeX profiles as the nature of my tasks varies.

Nothing is constrained.  A LaTeX profile is just the generalized LaTeX
mirror of an XML document type.  A very crude LaTeX translation of that
would be the LaTeX base plus a compatible selection of packages of one's

The moment one decides on a fixed set of declarative markup
> constructs, as to establish a "profile", there are instantly better
> tools to use in 2022 than the TeX engine itself.

Markdown is succinct, but also limited.  It's an 80/20 thing.

> But the moment the first \def sneaks in, and we become
> Turing-complete, a pandora's box opens that can not be closed
> afterwards.

With great over-simplification let me just say that in generalized LaTeX
\newcommand is OK, but \def is not.

The choice of a processing engine for a particular task depends on the
task.  Document processing involves many different tasks.
AFAIK the TeX world offers maximally good engines for actual typesetting,
but not for all document processing, as, at the very least,
we see with LaTeXML.

As Bruce once pointed out to me, LaTeXML is based on a LaTeX profile
though, I will add, not one that I as a writer would choose for my source

> You may be familiar with the statistic that arXiv submissions continue
> to increase:
> https://arxiv.org/stats/monthly_submissions
> As long as the general trend continues, projects like tex4ht and
> latexml will have work left to do, as well as communities that need
> them.
> Documents written in LaTeX today are valuable and need a path beyond PDF.

Yes, I agree.  LaTeX as we know it needs support, and work on LaTeXML and
TeX4ht needs to continue.  That work can become easier as better LaTeX
documents are written.

> On Tue, Mar 8, 2022 at 2:44 PM William F Hammond <gellmu at gmail.com> wrote:
> . . .
> Thousands of documents from various users using random packages with no
> umbrella of discipline is the reason for my suggestion that the LaTeX
> community should begin to use LaTeX profiles as outlined in my talk in San
> Francisco at TUG 2010.
> The author of a document using a LaTeX profile that is supported by both
> LaTeXML and TeX4ht would be able to have confidence that their [sic]
> document would pass correctly through both systems as well as through the
> system of any publisher supporting the profile.
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