TeX & Friends (Planet by DANTE e.V.)


Typeset In The Future

The Book


Exciting news: there’s a Typeset in the Future book! Typeset in the Future: Typography and Design in Science Fiction Movies was published by Abrams Books on December 11 2018, and is available to buy from all good bookstores.


The book contains new and expanded TITF studies for seven all-time classic science fiction movies, in a form that is beautiful enough to adorn even the most discerning of coffee tables. It’s the perfect holiday present for the design / sci-fi geek in your life, even if that geek happens to be yourself.

Does it include my favorite sci-fi movie, [MovieName]?

For the book, I’ve hand-picked seven classic sci-fi movies, focusing on those that create a detailed vision of the future through design and typography. (The list is also heavily inspired by requests I’ve received on TITF over the past few years.)

Here’s the line-up:

The book also includes interviews with sci-fi, typography, and design experts, including:

  • Paul Verhoeven, director of Total Recall, RoboCop, and Starship Troopers
  • Mike Okuda, scenic art supervisor for Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise (plus associated spin-off movies)
  • Ralph Eggleston and Craig Foster, production designer and graphic designer for Pixar’s WALL·E
  • Stephen Coles, founder of Fonts In Use, author of The Anatomy Of Type, and board member at the Letterform Archive
  • Antonio Cavedoni, font designer and expert on Eurostile creator Aldo Novarese

And if that’s not enough, there’s also:

How does the book differ from the web site?

Four existing articles from typesetinthefuture.com have been revised and expanded for the book, with even more geeky detail than the originals. (The book’s 2001: A Space Odyssey chapter already contains twice as much goodness as when I first studied the movie in 2014.) Three new studies have been written entirely from scratch, alongside in-depth interviews with the typography and sci-fi experts listed above.

How can I keep up to date with the project?

You can sign up for the book’s mailing list to receive occasional updates about book-related things. I’m also posting regular updates on Twitter as @daveaddey, along with random fascinating design observations and ephemera.

Awesome – good luck!

Thank you! (And don’t forget to buy a copy.)

by Dave Addey at Tuesday, 2018-12-11 13:52


Some TeX Developments (by Joseph Wright)

Floating point calculations in LaTeX

TeX does not include any ‘native’ support for floating point calculations, but that has not stopped lots of (La)TeX users wanting to do sums (and more complicated things) in their document. As TeX is Turing complete, it’s not a surprise that there are several ways to implement calculations. For end users, the differences between these are not important: what is key is what to use. Here, I’ll give a bit of background, look at the various possibilities, then move on to give a recommendation.


When Knuth wrote TeX, he had one aim in mind: high-quality typesetting. He also wanted to have sources which were truly portable between different systems. At the time, there was no standard for specifying how floating point operations should be handled at the hardware level: as such, no floating point operations were system-independent.

Knuth decided that TeX would provide no user access to anything dependent on platform-specific floating-point operations. That means that the TeX functions that look like floats (in particular dimen work) actually use integer arithmetic and convert ‘at the last minute’.

Technical considerations

There are two basic approaches to setting up floating point systems in TeX: either use dimensions or doing everything in integer arthimetic.

Using dimensions, the input range is limited and the output has restricted accuracy. But on the other hand, many calculations are quite short and they are fast. On the other hand, if everything is coded in integer arthimetic, the programmer can control the accuracy completely, at the cost of speed.

Although it’s not an absolute requirement, e-TeX does make doing things a bit easier: rather than having to shuffle everything a piece at a time, it is possible to use inline expressions for quite a lot of the work.

Another key technical aspect is expandablity. This is useful for some aspects of TeX work, particularly anywhere that it ‘expects a number’: only expansion is allowed in such places.

One other thing to consider is handling of TeX registers as numbers. Converting for example a length into something that can be used in a floating point calculation is handy, and it matches what e-TeX does in for example \numexpr. But in macro code it has to be programmed in.


The other thing to think about here is functionality: what is and isn’t needed in terms of mathematics. Doing straight-forward arithmetic is obviously easier than working out trigonometry, logarithms, etc. What exactly you need depends on the use case, but obviously more functionality is always better.

(Package) options

For simple work using the dimen approach is convenient and fast: it takes only a small amount of work to set up stripping off the pt part. I’m writing here for people who don’t want to delve into TeX innards, so let’s assume a pre-packaged solution is what is required.

There are lots of possible solutions on CTAN which cover some or all of the above. I don’t want to get into a ‘big list’, so I’ll simply note here that the following are available:

Some of these have variable or arbitrary precision, others work to a pre-determined level, and they also vary in terms of functions covered, expandablity and so on.

I want to focus in on three possible ‘contenders’: fp, pgf and the LaTeX3 FPU. The fp package formally uses fixed not floating point code, but the key for us here is that it allows a wide range of high-precision calculations. It’s also been around for a long time. However, it’s quite slow and doesn’t have convenient expression parsing (it does reverse Polish).

On the flip side, the mathematics engine in pgf uses dimens internally, so it is (relatively) fast but is limited in accuracy. The range limits also show up in some unexpected places, as a lot of range reduction is needed to make everything work. On the other hand, \pgfmathparse does read ‘normal’ mathematical expressions, so it’s pretty easy to use.

The LaTeX3 FPU is part of expl3, but is available nowadays as a document-level package xfp. In contrast to both fp and the pgf approach, the LaTeX3 FPU is expandable. Like pgf, using the FPU means we can use expressions, and we also get reasonable performance (Bruno Le Floch worked hard on this aspect). The other thing to note is that the FPU is intended to match behaviour specified in the decimal IEEE 754 standard, and that the team have a set of tests to try to make sure things work as expected.

There’s one other option that one must consider: Lua. If you address only using LuaTeX, you can happily break out into Lua and use its ability to use the ‘real’ floating point capabilities of a modern PC. The one wrinkle is that without a bit of work, the Lua code doesn’t know about TeX material: registers and so on need to be pre-processed. It also goes without saying that using Lua means being tied to LuaTeX!


As you can see above, there are several options. However, for end users wanting to do calculations in documents I think there is a clear best choice: the LaTeX3 FPU.

\fpeval{round(sqrt(2) * sind(40),2)}

You’d probably expect me to say that: I am on the LaTeX team. But that’s not the reason. Instead, it’s that the FPU is almost as fast as using dimens (see pgf benchmarking), but offers the same accuracy as a typical GUI application for maths. It also integrates into normal LaTeX conventions with no user effort.

Sunday, 2018-12-09 00:00


Some TeX Developments (by Joseph Wright)

Bringing XeTeX into line

In parallel with work on the \expanded primitive, I’ve been working recently on bringing the ‘utility’ primitives in XeTeX into line with those in pdfTeX, pTeX and upTeX.


XeTeX was written to extend e-TeX to allow full Unicode working, including loading system fonts. The development started from the DVI-mode e-TeX, rather than from pdfTeX, which had added various new primitives to e-TeX. Much of the difference between pdfTeX and e-TeX is directly to do with producing PDF output, but there are some additions that are entirely independent of that.

Over the years, some of the ‘utilities’ have been added to XeTeX (for example \pdfstrcmp, which in XeTeX is just \strcmp). However, several have not made it, but have been added to pTeX and upTeX. That’s meant that XeTeX has between ‘a bit behind’ in feature terms: there are things that simply can’t be done without primitive support.

An opportunity arises

As I’ve said in my other post today, the recent setting up of a Travis-CI testing environment for TeX Live building means that it is now easy to try adding new material to the WEB sources of pdfTeX, XeTeX, etc. As I was working on \expanded anyway, I decided that I’d look at bringing XeTeX back ‘into line’ with pTeX and upTeX. That’s important as for expl3, the LaTeX team have been using almost all of the primitives that were ‘missing’ in XeTeX.

The new features

So what has been added? The new additions are all named without the pdf part that pdfTeX includes, as they have nothing to do with PDFs:

  • \creationdate
  • \elaspsedtime
  • \filedump
  • \filemoddate
  • \filesize
  • \resettimer
  • \normaldeviate
  • \uniformdeviate
  • \randomseed

These enable things like random numbers in the LaTeX3 FPU, measuring code performance and checking the details of files: all stuff that is in expl3 and will now work with XeTeX.

I should add that although I did the grind of working out how to integrate the pdfTeX code into XeTeX, Akira Kakuto sorted out the areas that needed knowledge of C, in particular where XeTeX’s Unicode internals don’t match up with pdfTeX’s 8-bit ones.

One more thing

As well as the above, I made one other minor adjustment to XeTeX: altering how \Ucharcat works so it can create category code 13 (‘active’) tokens. That probably won’t show up for users except it helps the team extend some low-level expl3 code. Hopefully it will mean there is on fewer XeTeX restriction.

Getting the code

TeX Live only gets binary updates once per year, so users there will need to wait for the 2019 release. On the other hand, MiKTeX already has the new features, so if you are on Windows it’s pretty trivial to try out. If you use TeX Live and really want to test out, you can update your binaries in-place, for example from W32TeX: if you understand what that means, you probably know how to do it!

Thursday, 2018-12-06 00:00

A ‘new’ primitive: \expanded

In recent years, development of pdfTeX has been very limited, with the v1.40 branch now being around for over 10 years. However, in the past there were plans for a v1.50 branch, and some code was actually written. One primitive that was fully coded-up at that time was \expanded. The idea of this is pretty simple: it carries out full expansion like \message (and almost) like \edef), but it is still expandable. For example, try

\message{Hello \a\space #}
\detokenize\expandafter{\expanded{Hello \a\space #}}

using LuaTeX.

Why is the example for LuaTeX? When LuaTeX development started, the team behind it used the development code from pdfTeX as a starting point, and that included \expanded. However, release pdfTeX itself didn’t incorporate this code, and so it’s not been more widely available.

Enter the LaTeX Team

For some time, the LaTeX Team have been thinking about asking for \expanded to be made more widely available. Unlike the \romannumeral ‘trick’, \expanded does not require any hard work to get ‘past’ any output, so it is very useful for creating macros that work like functions. It’s also fast and clear in intention.

In the past, making requests for changes to the pdfTeX codebase was hard as building and testing is non-trivial. However, nowadays there is a GitHub repo which is also set up for Travis-CI. That means that there is an easy way to test: set up an Ubuntu virtual machine, clone the repo there, and run the tests in the same way Travis-CI does.

With that handy set up available, I sat down (on behalf of the team) and did the hard work: a bit of copy-pasting! As well as pdfTeX, I worked out how to add \expanded to XeTeX and the Japanese TeX engines pTeX and upTeX. After a bit of discussion, this code has been accepted by TeX Live, and will be there in the 2019 release.

Get it now

For those people who want to test now, LuaTeX of course has \expanded, so it is easy to try out. For MiKTeX users, Christian Schenk has already updated all of the binaries, so a quick update will give pdfTeX and XeTeX with \expanded. For TeX Live users, binary updates only happen once a year. But if you want to grab something now, you could look for example at W32TeX (which is the source for Windows binaries in TeX Live): you’ll have to manually rebuild your formats, but if you know enough to want to test, you probably understand that instruction!

Using \expanded

The team have already started planning to use \expanded, and recently added a new expansion type to expl3: e-type. We have some emulation code that allows this to work (slowly) even with older binaries. I’d expect us to make heavy use of this in new functions: it’s a lot easier than the \romannumeral approach.

Thursday, 2018-12-06 00:00


Typeset In The Future


From a trash-filled Earth to the futuristic Axiom and back again, WALL·E is a finely crafted balance between consumerist dystopia and sixties space-race optimism. Please join me, then, for a detailed dive into the uniquely robotic future of a remarkably human film, as seen through the eyes of its eponymous hero, WALL·E.

[This article is from the Typeset in the Future book, which is really very good and you’re probably going to want to buy a copy of. If you’d rather read the article first, don’t worry—I’ll remind you again later on.]

Before we get started, there is an important detail we must clear up. Our hero’s name is not, as you might think, WALL-E. Moreover, it definitely isn’t WALL•E. His name is WALL·E, and that dot is an interpunct, not a hyphen or a bullet.

WALL·E’s front plate, clearly showing his interpunct.

An interpunct is, of course, a vertically centered dot originally used to separate words in Latin and ancient Greek. (Spaces weren’t invented until several centuries later.) The interpunct is still in use today—it’s the official decimal point in British currency (£9·99), and is used to represent the dot product of two vectors in mathematics (x · y). Most relevantly, it’s used in Japanese to separate titles, names, and positions, as in “課長補佐 · 鈴木” (Assistant Section Head · Suzuki). It is therefore entirely appropriate as the separator in WALL·E, which is short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter · Earth Class.

The bold extended typeface seen on WALL·E’s front plate is Gunship, designed by Dan Zadorozny, one of the unsung heroes of modern sci-fi type design. Dan is an amateur type designer from Texas whose Iconian Fonts website features more than six hundred free hand-crafted typefaces, many of which have been used by sci-fi movies, TV shows, and book designers.

In addition to WALL·E’s front plate, Gunship is seen on Earth and aboard the Axiom, the flagship spacecraft of megacorporation Buy n Large (BnL, for short), most notably for robot-facing wall and door typography. Its upper- and lowercase variants include different combinations of cutouts and curve orientations, giving designers flexibility when crafting robot signage. (Strictly speaking, this means that our hero’s name, correctly capitalized, is “waLL·e,” with the interpunct as a further customization—Gunship’s own interpunct is rectangular.)

Gunship (lowercase characters).
Gunship (uppercase characters).

The movie begins with an insight into WALL·E’s typical workday, which is spent building gigantic piles of trash by compacting waste into neat, stackable cubes. After a hard day’s crushing, we follow him on his journey home, learning some useful exposition along the way. This includes a bank of electronic ads for BnL, promoting everything from liquid air to quadruple-patty burgers. Common throughout these ads is an insistence on immediate consumption—“DRINK NOW,” “HUNGRY NOW,” “RUN NOW,” “CONSUME.” And if consuming a product once isn’t enough, you can repeat the experience a second time—the signage seen below includes ads for both “100% Reused Food” and “Regurgi-Shake: Twice the Flavor.”


We’ve seen how corporate mergers, such as Alien’s Weylan Yutani and Blade Runner’s Shimata-Dominguez, are an inevitability in sci-fi futures. WALL·E’s Buy n Large is similar, except that this company was formed by a merger between a frozen yogurt manufacturer (Buy Yogurt) and a maker of suits for the larger gentleman (Large Industries). Clearly a marriage made in heaven, this corporate combination led to a rapid expansion, culminating with Buy n Large owning every company and government in the world.

The Buy n Large logo is an over-italicized customization of Futura Extra Bold Oblique, as demonstrated by a super-distinctive capital G in the BUY N LARGE BANK logotype that WALL·E passes early in the movie.

Futura Pro Extra Bold Oblique, released by Berthold. Original Futura design by Paul Renner.
“BUY N LARGE BANK” signage, set in Futura Extra Bold Oblique, showing its distinctive capital G.

If the red-and-blue logo feels familiar, it shouldn’t be a surprise—it’s because BnL uses the exact same typeface and color scheme as real-world retail giant Costco Wholesale Corporation.

The Costco Wholesale Corporation logo, in Futura Extra Bold Oblique.

There’s another curious BnL subsidiary to be found among the city’s electronic ads, on a beaten-up billboard advertising “Eggman Movers (Creating More Space).” This company is an Easter-egg reference to WALL·E production designer Ralph “Eggman” Eggleston, and it shares the name of the moving company from 1995’s Toy Story, for which Ralph was art director.

Eggman Movers, from 2008’s WALL·E.
Eggman Movers, from 1995’s Toy Story.

The presence of a Buy n Large–branded bank means Buy n Large–branded banknotes, which are unusual for being strewn across the floor of the deserted city. If you look closely at the notes, you’ll see that some of them have “106” in the corner, and are marked “ten million dollars.” Others look to be marked “996,” suggesting that Buy n Large stores continued the classic $9.99 pricing trick even after adding six zeroes to the end of everything. (Indeed, it says much about the Buy n Large approach to consumerism that it prints notes with the 99s already included, to avoid customers having to receive any change.)

$10 million and $99 million bills lie abandoned on the ground near a Buy n Large Bank.

We discover later in the movie that the Axiom left Earth in the year 2105. This suggests that in the preceding years of overconsumption there was a period of severe hyperinflation, making a $10 million note a necessity. This is not without historical precedent—Earth’s most extreme example of hyperinflation occurred in Zimbabwe in November 2008, just a few months after WALL·E’s release, when the inflation rate for the Zimbabwe dollar reached a staggering 79,600,000,000 percent per month. At this point, a single US dollar was equivalent to 2,621,984,228 Zimbabwe dollars. The largest-denomination note printed during this time was the $100 trillion note, which makes Buy n Large’s $10 million bill seem like small change by comparison.

A $100 trillion bill from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, showing some impressively pointy Futura.

WALL·E leaves the bank behind and continues his journey via the disused tracks of the BnL Transit monorail system. In the absence of working trains, these concrete tracks provide a convenient route through the middle of the deserted city.

WALL·E climbs an escalator to a BnL Transit monorail station.

Despite their association with aspirational futures, monorails have been failing to become a global mass-transit system for almost two hundred years. The first passenger monorail opened in 1825 in Cheshunt, England, primarily to transport bricks, though it was also utilized for transporting people, mostly for novelty purposes. Unlike the top-of-rail system seen in WALL·E, Cheshunt’s monorail consisted of carriages suspended beneath an overhead track, and was powered by a single horse.

The Cheshunt style of monorail—with suspended carriages hanging beneath a single rail—was also adopted by the Wuppertal Schwebebahn, which began operation along the Wupper River in Wuppertal, Germany, in 1901. The Wuppertal’s suspended system is still in operation today, carrying more than sixty-five thousand passengers on an average weekday.

A Wuppertal Schwebebahn monorail train arrives at the Werther Brücke station in Wuppertal, 1913.

The monorail seen in WALL·E is of the style popularized by Swedish entrepreneur Axel Wenner-Gren, whose prototype ALWEG (Axel Lennart Wenner-Gren) monorail system came to the attention of Walt Disney after a family visit to Wuppertal gave him monorail fever. Disney saw the potential for a monorail attraction at his new Disneyland theme park in California, and the Disneyland-ALWEG Monorail System opened in June 1959. The system remains in operation today (under the name Disneyland Monorail), and there are similar attractions at Disneyland Tokyo and Walt Disney World in Florida. In total, Disney monorails have transported more than one billion passengers into an aspirational transportational future.

The Disneyland-ALWEG Monorail System at Tomorrowland station, 1963. Photograph by Robert J. Boser, CC BY 3.0.
The Disneyland-ALWEG Monorail System at Disneyland Hotel station, 1963. Photograph by Robert J. Boser, CC BY 3.0.

It’s not entirely clear what US city WALL·E lives in, but the presence of a monorail network certainly positions it as a location that was once optimistic about the future. This mid-century futurism is borne out by other architectural features of the city, most notably a curved building seen among the billboards encountered earlier. This building is strongly reminiscent of the Space Needle observation tower in Seattle, Washington, which was built for the city’s 1962 World’s Fair, together with an ALWEG monorail system that is still in operation today.

Seattle’s ALWEG monorail passing in front of the city’s Space Needle, 2008. Both were built for Seattle’s 1962 World’s Fair. Photograph by Smart Destinations, CC BY-SA 2.0.
A remarkably space-needle-like building seen close to the monorail in WALL·E’s home city.

Near the monorail, WALL·E passes a promotional poster for himself, with the caption “Working to dig you out!” This poster has definite communist propaganda undertones, showing a stylized army of WALL·Es working together to build a brighter future. The implication of this design choice—that communist values are the solution to decades of rampant consumerism—is a pretty bold political statement for what is only the fourth minute of the movie.

Buy n Large poster for WALL·E robots, with the caption “Working to dig you out!”

The future to which these WALL·Es aspire is apparently just above and behind the viewer—a common trope for communist propaganda, where the aspirational group gaze is almost always in this direction.

Chinese communist propaganda poster with the caption “To go on a thousand ‘li’ march to temper a red heart.” A “li” is about 500 meters, so a thousand-li march is about 310 miles.
Soviet communist propaganda poster, with the caption “Let’s raise a generation utterly devoted to the cause of communism!” Designed by Victor Ivanov, 1947.
North Korean propaganda poster, with the caption “The party calls! To important construction!”

Indeed, this gaze is such a common trope that it became the primary styling of the promotional poster for 2014’s banned comedy movie The Interview, in which two Americans travel to North Korea to interview the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un. (The WALL·E poster’s bottom-edge caption, punctuated by an exclamation mark, is a recurring design feature in North Korean propaganda posters.)

Promotional poster for The Interview, with the Korean-language caption “Don’t believe these American bastards!”

This aspirational style is an example of socialist realist design, the officially sanctioned visual aesthetic of the Soviet Union, which positioned broad-shouldered, purposeful workers as the true heroes of the age. As a robot who is literally a rectangle, there is surely no worker more broad-shouldered and purposeful than our movie’s eponymous hero, WALL·E.

WALL·E’s self-promotional poster is also a fine example of Handel Gothic, one of the movie’s supporting typefaces. Originally designed in 1965 by Donald J. Handel, the font has become a mainstay of design futurism. (Indeed, it is quite possibly the originator of one of our rules for futuristic type: Make straight things curved.)

Handel Gothic Com Bold, from Linotype. Handel Gothic was originally designed in 1965 by Donald J. Handel for FotoStar.

My favorite use of the typeface in WALL·E occurs later in the movie, when we see the distinctly curved E of some Handel Gothic… on a handle. (I refuse to believe this is anything but a deliberate typographic joke.)

“Handle” Gothic.

Handel Gothic enjoyed a particular resurgence when the type family was expanded in the 1980s, and will be immediately familiar to anyone who visited EPCOT Center at Walt Disney World in Florida, which opened in 1982. (Later in this article, we’ll look in detail at the theme park, which is now named simply Epcot.) The original EPCOT Center logo was Handel Gothic all the way, making particularly good use of a lowercase n in “Center” to bring some extra curviness, and choosing a font variant with a curved leg in its R for consistency. (It also added letter joining and slicing for good futuristic measure.)

Original logo for the EPCOT Center theme park at Walt Disney World, Florida.

Handel Gothic will also be familiar to Star Trek fans, from its appearance in the credits for both Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993–99) and Star Trek: Voyager (1995–2001).

Opening credits from the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Emissary,” showing some shiny metallic Handel Gothic (in this case, with a straight-legged R).
Opening credits from the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Unimatrix Zero: Part II,” showing Handel Gothic with a similarly straight-legged R.

The movie that made Handel Gothic synonymous with sci-fi, however, was almost certainly Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, released in 1977. Close Encounters used the typeface for its theatrical poster and for its opening credits, with the very words “Close Encounters” offering not one but three opportunities to recognize Handel Gothic’s trademark E.

Opening credits to 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

But back to WALL·E’s journey. Toward the end of his trek home, he passes many more WALL·E units, all of them rusted and dead. The sole remaining WALL·E happily cannibalizes a Caterpillar track from a nearby broken unit to replace his own damaged part, and motors onward with the new track in place.

It’s an easy detail to miss, but WALL·E’s home is a broken-down “BnL WALL·E Transport” vehicle, which may once have housed all the dead units he just passed. When he reverses himself into a WALL·E-size bin in a rotatable storage rack a few minutes later and rocks himself to sleep, his loneliness as the last robot on Earth is made all the more acute by the uninhabited bins around him, now filled with ordered trash.

Defunct WALL·E units litter the landscape, becoming part of the trash they once existed to clear.
A hulking WALL·E TRANSPORT, ironically rendered immobile by the piles of trash surrounding it.
WALL·E tucks himself into a transportation bin, as the last remaining unit still able to do so. Where there once would have been many more WALL·E’s, there is now simply ordered trash.

Before he climbs into bed, WALL·E retrieves his favorite VHS cassette from a nearby toaster, and pops it into a VCR. It turns out this is a beaten-up copy of Hello, Dolly!—1969’s awkwardly punctuated Jerry Herman musical. Delightfully, the typography of this cassette is taken directly from the movie’s 1991 VHS release, though the identity of its non-futuristic title font—half Century Schoolbook, half Benguiat Caslon—has sadly eluded my detective skills.

WALL-E’s much-watched copy of Hello, Dolly!
The front cover of 1991’s US VHS release of Hello, Dolly!

WALL·E watches his Hello, Dolly! cassette via a small, portable device that looks almost exactly like an Apple iPod Video. I say “almost,” because the real-world iPod Video had a smaller click wheel than the one seen in WALL·E, had white labels on its buttons, and did not support external playback from a VHS cassette player. Nonetheless, this iPod is just one example of many in WALL·E’s home that evoke nostalgia for gadgets past, reinforcing that WALL·E himself is the discarded, unwanted technology that humanity left behind.

WALL·E’s iPod, showing Hello, Dolly! on its LCD color screen.

To work around the tiny scale of his iPod’s screen, WALL·E uses a plastic Fresnel lens as a magnifying device to enlarge the image to several times its original size. In doing so, he follows a trend started in Terry Gilliam’s similarly dystopian Brazil, in which employees at the Ministry of Information Retrieval huddle around tiny CRT screens to watch westerns through Fresnel lenses when their boss isn’t looking.

WALL·E watches a movie on his iPod’s small screen through a rectangular Fresnel lens.
In 1985’s Brazil, Ministry of Information employees watch movies on a small CRT screen through a rectangular Fresnel lens.

WALL·E awakes from robotic sleep on day two of the movie, low on power and dynamism. The fact that his head is a big pair of binoculars gives a great opportunity for a visual gag, as we see him literally bleary-eyed before activating the zoom lock on first his left eye, then his right, to reveal an eye-test chart in the opposing rack.

From his bleary beginnings…
…WALL·E focuses first his left eye…
…and then his right, locking in on an eye test chart in the distance.

WALL·E’s binocular form is mimicked in the shape of his heads-up display (or HUD), which has the classic “two circles” shape used in many movies to indicate that we are looking from a character’s viewpoint through a pair of binoculars. This HUD raises an interesting question, however. Why does WALL·E have a heads-up display, with information overlaid on a video stream? A heads-up display really makes sense only if you are a human who has eyes; for a robot, any video input is combined with additional metadata from environmental sensors (such as direction, zoom, and power), and fed directly into the robot’s processor. Overlaying environmental information on a video stream implies that the robot has cameras that look at the world, and then more cameras that look at the augmented output of those cameras, which doesn’t make sense at all.

The answer, of course, is that WALL·E has a HUD because movie robots have HUDs, and movie robots have HUDs because they enable the viewer to visualize what the robots are thinking, even if it makes zero sense in technical reality. This trope began in 1973’s Westworld, whose final act shows us the world from the vantage point of Yul Brynner’s gun-slinging robot. Although Brynner’s HUD is not augmented with data, it is nonetheless the first use of computer-generated imagery in a feature film. Director Michael Crichton cuts several times from a real-world scene to the robot’s pixelated version of the same, including a thermal image when Brynner chases his prey in the movie’s final act.

A canyon in Westworld…
…and Yul Brynner’s pixellated view of the same.
Yul Brynner’s gunslinging robot tracks its prey with a thermal imaging interpretation of its video input.

Westworld’s “robot viewpoint” trope was codified by 1984’s The Terminator and 1987’s RoboCop, both of which augmented their HUDs with additional data and text. Following these two movies, a heads-up display pretty much became the de facto expectation for any on-screen robot whose motives need to be understood.

A HUD screen from the T-800 Terminator, in 1984’s The Terminator. Here, the T-800 is determining an appropriate auditory response to a question from its apartment’s superintendent.
A HUD screen from the OCP Crime Prevention Unit 001, in 1987’s RoboCop. Here, RoboCop’s visual tracking system is being put through its paces by detecting the location of a pen. (Note that RoboCop’s HUD has highly visible scan lines, to make sure we know we are watching a live video stream in a movie.)

Pixar’s robot HUDs tend to include the shape of the robot’s eye(s) within the heads-up display, to help us associate the HUD with the character it represents. The Incredibles’ Omnidroid predates WALL·E’s binoculars in this regard. Other WALL·E robots—M-O, SECUR-T, and EVE—also follow suit.

The Incredibles’ Omnidroid has a HUD that makes the droid’s desire for self-preservation clear via some on-screen Eurostile Oblique. It also demonstrates the Pixar trend (continued in WALL·E) for HUDs to match the shapes of their robots’ eye(s).
The SECUR-T sentry robot’s eye in WALL·E is explicitly a camera, as reinforced by a SLR (single-lens-reflex)-camera-like HUD when taking a CAUTION photo of WALL·E’s rogue robots.
EVE’s curved, lined HUD mirrors the curved, lined styling of her eyes and face.
M-O’s wide, flat eye-panel shape is mirrored in his wide, flat on-screen HUD display. This shape, of course, requires his HUD to use a certain wide, flat typeface for its informative text.

Pixar’s neatest variation on the robot HUD trope occurs all the way back in 1999’s Toy Story 2, where a plastic toy’s marketing gimmick (plus some clever camera framing) enables us to literally see through the eyes of the movie’s robotic bad guy.

Evil Emperor Zurg, arch-enemy of Buzz Lightyear, in 1999’s Toy Story 2.
As Buzz runs away from Zurg, a camera move brilliantly subverts the robot HUD trope…
…turning a plastic toy’s “LOOK HERE” scope…
…into the bad guy’s evil robot HUD…
…complete with ZURG VISION logo in Eurostile Bold Oblique.

There is one further question raised by WALL·E’s binocular HUD. How does his directional compass—seen at the top center of his HUD—continue to work when he is aboard the Axiom? Lots of planets may have a north, but the same is not true of spacecraft—north, south, east, and west make sense only when you’re on the surface of a sphere.

A detail from WALL·E’s binoculars when onboard the Axiom. This compass direction indicator, from the top of the viewport, updates as he rotates, despite the notable absence of a planet.

Day two (and act two) of WALL·E see a Buy n Large scout ship arrive on Earth, disrupting WALL·E’s routine. Most importantly, it introduces us to EVE, who is everything WALL·E is not. EVE’s shiny white design is technologically advanced; she’s the curvy iMac G4 to WALL·E’s boxy Mac 128K. Her design evokes sleek Apple products of the 2000s, with her head, in particular, highly reminiscent of a 2002 iMac G4’s base. Even her reboot sound is a futuristic take on Apple’s famous startup chime, whereas WALL·E’s post-charge chime is the version Apple introduced in 1998 and removed altogether in 2016.

WALL·E sees EVE for the first time, as she is released from her transporter pod to begin scanning Earth.
Side view of an iMac G4,
released in 2002, with an EVE-head-like base.
An Apple Macintosh 128k, released in 1984, with a WALL·E-like beige body. Photograph by Ian Muttoo, CC BY-SA 2.0.

EVE’s evocation of Apple product design is not entirely coincidental. In a 2008 interview with Fortune magazine, director Andrew Stanton stated: “I wanted EVE to be high-end technology—no expense spared—and I wanted it to be seamless and for the technology to be sort of hidden and subcutaneous. The more I started describing it, the more I realized I was pretty much describing the Apple playbook for design.” This led to a 2005 call to Steve Jobs—at that time, both owner of Pixar and CEO of Apple—which in turn led to Apple design head Jony Ive spending a day at the Pixar headquarters in Emeryville, consulting on the EVE prototype. (It is surely entirely coincidental that EVE’s wireless arms and hands are reminiscent of Apple’s wireless Magic Mouse, released the year after WALL·E.)

Eve’s wirelessly-connected fingers and hands, as seen in 2008’s WALL·E.
Apple’s wireless Magic Mouse, released in 2009. Photograph by Yutaka Tsutano, CC BY 2.0.

During a dust storm, WALL·E takes EVE back to the safety of his home, where he presents her with a small multicolored cube. In the three seconds the camera pans away for WALL·E to retrieve Hello, Dolly!, EVE solves the Rubik’s Cube and returns it to her astonished host.

WALL·E presents EVE with a Rubik’s Cube from his trash collection.

EVE’s cube-solving time would be impressive for a human; the current world record is 4.22 seconds, set by Feliks Zemdegs in May 2018. Sadly, because of the camera pan, we’ll never know if EVE broke the world record for a robot, which currently stands at a mind-boggling 0.637 seconds. This record was set in November 2016 by Sub1 Reloaded, a cube-solving robot built by German engineer Albert Beer. Six high-performance stepper motors turned the cube twenty-one times to complete the task, averaging just 0.03 seconds per rotation.

Sub1 Reloaded, the world-record-holding Rubik’s Cube robot, in November 2016.

Spare a thought, then, for poor WALL·E. His surprise at EVE’s accomplishment is understandable—he lacks color vision and has only three digits on each hand, which means that Rubik’s Cubes are really not his specialty. (There’s a reason Guinness doesn’t have a “fastest dog” Rubik’s Cube category.)

One other point of note: This scene is the only time the color green appears in WALL·E in a scene unrelated to a plant. While this breaks the movie’s careful color scripting, it’s worth it for a good gag.

All seems to be going well with WALL·E and EVE’s introductions, until they are rudely interrupted by EVE’s spotting a plant that WALL·E has excavated from the trash. She subsumes the plant, as per her “directive,” and enters hibernation mode. WALL·E’s attempts to wake her invariably end in comedic pain, though one of them does reveal EVE’s serial number, 051682, set in Handel Gothic. (I can’t help but wonder whether someone in Pixar’s art department was born on May 16, 1982.)

EVE’s serial number, seen on the inside of the door above, is 051682.

WALL·E gives up on reviving EVE and disconsolately returns to his trash-crushing routine. Shortly afterward, the Axiom’s scout ship returns to Earth and collects EVE to take her home. Desperate not to lose his new friend, WALL·E hitches a ride on the outside of the scout, causing him grief when the ship blasts through Earth’s surrounding satellite trash. As the satellites fall away, we see that WALL·E has a Soviet-era Sputnik 1 satellite on his head. This is impressive, especially given that Sputnik 1—the first man-made object to orbit Earth—burned up on reentry to Earth’s atmosphere in 1958.

As the Axiom scout ship breaks through Earth’s satellites…
…WALL·E is briefly left with Sputnik 1 on his head.
A replica of the Sputnik 1 satellite, showing its 58cm-diameter aluminum sphere and four spindly antennas

We see Sputnik 1 again later in the movie, as a model in Captain McCrea’s display cabinet. This model is accompanied by a NASA space shuttle launch/entry helmet, as worn by space shuttle astronauts between 1982 and 1986 during launch and return from space.

A space shuttle launch/entry helmet and a Sputnik model in Captain McCrea’s display case.
Payload specialist Sharon Christa McAuliffe is briefed on the space shuttle’s launch/entry helmet during training for the January 1986 launch of flight STS-51L.

This “retro space tech” theme can also be seen on Earth during EVE’s scan for plant life. After scanning a Toy Story Pizza Planet truck and a portable lavatory, EVE checks a rusting Apollo command module before slamming the door shut in disgust at its absence of plant-based life.

A BnL-branded Apollo-style command module in a pile of trash on Earth.
The Apollo 14 command module, nicknamed “Kitty Hawk,” at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photograph by gordonplant, CC BY 2.0.

Showing recent space technology as trash or as museum pieces positions our personal experiences of space as archaic and quaint in comparison to the Axiom’s futuristic styling. This further reinforces WALL·E’s own obsolescence as a discarded piece of technology, and sets us up neatly for a transition to the shiny futurism of the Axiom.

The Axiom paints a vision of the future where every menial task, no matter how small, has a dedicated robot created expressly for the purpose. Like 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL and Alien’s MU/TH/UR, all these robots have cute acronyms to make them human-friendly.

SAUT-A (chefbot).
Microbe Obliterator, or M·O.
VAQ-M (vacuumbot), BUF-4 (bufferbot), and SPR-A (spraybot).
HAN-S (massagebot), and PR-T (beauticianbot).
SR-V (tennisbot).
BIRD-E (golfbot).
SECUR-T (stewardbot).
BURN-E (maintenancebot), shortly after being locked out of the Axiom by WALL·E and EVE.
GO-4 (gopherbot).
Waste Allocation Load Lifter · Axiom Class, or WALL·A.
NAN-E (nannybot).

Of particular note is VN-GO, the painterbot, whose acronym perpetuates a common yet incorrect pronunciation of Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh’s surname. (According to the BBC Pronunciation Unit, it is “van Gokh,” with the kh pronounced like the ch in the Scottish word loch.)

VN-GO (paintbot).

EVE’s acronym, sadly, is even worse. Her denomination as Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator could not be more inaccurate, given that her entire reason for existing is to evaluate vegetation on the planet Terra (as Earth is known in Latin). Presumably, her moniker was chosen for cuteness rather than linguistic accuracy—after all, this movie is about WALL·E and EVE, not WALL·E and TVE.

Also of note is TYP-E, a typingbot who is designed solely to press keys when someone approaches the elevator shaft to the captain’s quarters. TYP-E provides an excuse for one of the movie’s best visual gags—as a robot, he has a keyboard made entirely, of course, from ones and zeroes.

TYP-E (typingbot).
In a brief over-the-shoulder shot, we see that TYP-E’s keyboard is made entirely from keys labeled 1 and 0.

M-O’s cleaning colleagues (VAQ-M, SPR-A, and BUF-4) may bring back memories for fans of 1997’s The Fifth Element. In Luc Besson’s over-the-top vision of the future, evil industrialist Zorg demonstrates his own array of task-specific robots by dropping a glass tumbler on the floor to trigger their “lovely ballet.” As two sentrybots stand guard, a sweeperbot, a spraybot, and a bufferbot clean up his mess before returning to a nearby storage station.

The Fifth Element pre-empts WALL·E’s cleaning robots with its own sweeperbot…
…and bufferbot.

The Axiom’s robots travel around the ship via their own dedicated corridors, separate from the craft’s passenger areas. These passenger areas are split into three classes—economy, coach, and elite—each of which has a distinct architectural style. The classes themselves do not play a functional role in the movie’s plot, but one has to wonder what they mean for the Axiom’s society. Are children born into the classes their ancestors originally purchased, as if into some kind of futuristic caste system? Would the Axiom have its own Titanic moment if a passenger from economy bumped hover chairs with someone from elite? One thing’s certain: The styling of each class is extremely useful for helping viewers orient themselves within the ship’s overall structure as the action moves back and forth along its length.

Our introduction to the passenger area starts with the economy deck, which is compact, angular, and concrete in texture and color. Its palette is deliberately sparse, rarely moving outside the Buy n Large blue, red, and white, and making extensive use of the corporation’s Futura Extra Bold Oblique.

The economy deck, as seen by WALL·E shortly after his arrival on the Axiom. Apart from a few hints of yellow, it follows the BnL corporate color scheme exclusively, with plenty of Futura Extra Bold Oblique.
The economy deck, as seen when Captain McCrea announces the Axiom’s 700-year anniversary.

The deck’s design is highly reminiscent of the interior of the Contemporary Tower at Walt Disney World Contemporary Resort, whose A-frame concrete-and-steel structure was so futuristic when it opened in 1971 that it even had a monorail running through the middle. (As anyone who has stayed at the Contemporary can attest, however, its rates can hardly be considered “economy.”)

Interior of the Contemporary Tower at Walt Disney World Contemporary Resort, as it looked in 2011. The blue raised platform on the right is a monorail station with a green-line monorail currently boarding. Photograph by Sam Howzit, CC BY 2.0.

The coach deck, unlike the economy deck, is curved, eclectic, and spacious, with brightly colored holo-ads scattered everywhere. It mimics Las Vegas’s Strip in gaudiness and style, with artificial neon colors used extensively and every sign encouraging Axiom passengers to spend more money. (How the ship’s financial economy continues to function after a seven-hundred-year flight continues to remain a mystery.)

The central mall area of the Axiom’s coach deck, with garish, over-saturated holographic ads and signs.
Las Vegas Strip at night
A section of the Las Vegas Strip at night, showing a similar palette of over-saturated cyan, purple, pink, and yellow hues, combined with omnipresent ads encouraging consumption. Photograph by rabbit75_ist.

The ceiling of the coach deck is a gigantic animated screen that can switch between day and night, complete with a BnL-branded sun or moon. The ceiling’s relationship to actual time is somewhat tenuous, as we see when Captain McCrea winds the sky back from 12:30 p.m. to 9:30 a.m. in order to make his morning announcements. In this regard, the ceiling is essentially an amalgam of two Las Vegas landmarks: the painted cloud ceilings of the Forum indoor arcade at Caesars Palace, whose lighting ebbs and changes without ever making it nighttime enough for you to want to stop buying things, and the four-block-long overhead screen of the Fremont Street Experience—the world’s largest video screen—whose 12.5 million LEDs illuminate Vegas partygoers every night. The result is an entirely fake sky for the Axiom’s population, allowing finely tuned control over their artificial environment.

The coach deck’s sky dome ceiling, transitioning from midday to early morning.
The painted, vaulted ceiling of the Forum Shops arcade at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. Photograph by anokarina, CC BY-SA 2.0.
The four-block-long LED ceiling of the Fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas. Photograph by dconvertini, CC BY-SA 2.0.

The coach deck leads to the elite deck, whose styling resembles that of a high-class lido or spa. Despite their very different palettes, the coach and elite decks share a curved, futuristic environmental styling that unifies their overall architecture. According to production designer Ralph Eggleston, the architecture of this shared area is inspired by the work of architect Santiago Calatrava, whose signature curved supports and arches can be seen throughout both decks’ central concourse.

Close-up of the arched supports in the central coach deck plaza.
Transitional area between the coach and elite decks, showing arched supports around the central transportation line.
Café Calatrava, Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, completed in 2001. Photograph by Peter Alfred Hess, CC BY 2.0.
Concourse and roof supports, Lyon–Saint-Exupéry Airport Railway Station, Colombier-Saugnieu, France. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, completed in 1994. Photograph by Ingolf, CC BY-SA 2.0.
An arched glass half-dome in the coach deck’s food court.
Close-up of the base of the captain’s control tower, showing its arched, glass-fronted entrance.
Exterior detail, Milwaukee Art Museum, Wisconsin. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, completed in 2001. Photograph by joevare, CC BY-ND 2.0.
Arched exterior of the Adán Martín Auditorio de Tenerife, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, completed in 2003. Photograph by Rick Ligthelm, CC BY 2.0.

The other main influence for the Axiom’s architecture is the design of the Tomorrowland area of Disneyland, in California. According to production designer Ralph Eggleston, during the movie’s production WALL·E’s design team visited an exhibition of Tomorrowland concept art and took inspiration from the designs therein. Perhaps the most obvious of these influences is the presence of a PeopleMover transportation system running through the middle of the club and elite decks, in a style very similar to the PeopleMover at Tomorrowland. (Do check out DaveLandWeb’s fantastic PeopleMover photo page for some great examples of the original in action.)

The club deck’s circular PeopleMover loading area.
Raised PeopleMover tracks running along the length of the club deck.

The evolution of Disney’s PeopleMover concept began with the 1964–65 New York World’s Fair, for which the Ford Motor Company asked Disney to design an attraction to compete with General Motors’ Futurama II exhibit. The resulting Magic Skyway gave fairgoers an opportunity to ride in a driverless Ford convertible—including the just-launched Ford Mustang—through a diorama that transported them from prehistoric times to a futuristic space city.

Following its success at the World’s Fair, the traction system behind Magic Skyway was adapted into a new feature for Tomorrowland’s 1967 relaunch. The new attraction, known as the WEDway PeopleMover, enabled Walter Elias Disney to follow Axel Lennart Wenner-Gren (of ALWEG monorail fame) in naming a futuristic transportation mechanism with his initials. It also provided an ideal inspiration for the Axiom’s central transport system.

The Axiom’s PeopleMover has much in common with its WEDway counterpart. Both are focused on a main circular loading area in the heart of a central plaza, with a long, straight stretch of track extending away from the loading deck. Both give passengers a tantalizing view of surrounding attractions as they are transported from one area to another. Indeed, I am sure Walt Disney would have been delighted to see his dream of future transportation integrated into the Axiom’s space-age environment, especially given that Disneyland’s PeopleMover was a prototype for Walt’s grander vision of futuristic living. Walt planned to build a larger PeopleMover installation as part of his Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, or EPCOT—a new and futuristic city to be created from scratch at his planned Disney World Resort in Florida.

In October 1966, Walt recorded a short film pitching his “Florida Project” to industrialists and legislators, including a detailed description of EPCOT’s transportation system. In this new city, cars and trucks were to be pushed underground, with the community’s twenty thousand residents instead traveling by WEDway and monorail to work, play, and socialize. The concept images below from Walt’s EPCOT film give an idea of just how much imagination the creative brains at WED Enterprises applied, under Walt’s careful guidance, to everyday living challenges.

EPCOT’s transportation was planned on a radial system, as this schematic from Walt’s EPCOT film demonstrates. City residents use a series of PeopleMover systems (shown here as light blue spokes) to travel from their homes on the outskirts of the city to the central transport hub. Should they need to travel to other parts of Disney World, they then transfer to a high-speed monorail system (shown here in red).
Concept art showing one half of EPCOT’s main transportation lobby. The longer-distance monorail service (right) runs through the center of the lobby, with shorter-distance WEDway PeopleMover services departing from the edges of the lobby (left). Cars and trucks are pushed underground into lower levels of the city’s transportation network (bottom).
Concept art from the EPCOT film, showing a PeopleMover and Monorail passing through the city’s central shopping district.
In Walt’s EPCOT proposal, the city’s WEDway PeopleMovers (shown here as light blue spokes) transport residents through the city’s greenbelt, past sports facilities and schools…
…to residential areas in the city’s suburban districts, complete with footpaths and children’s play areas.

Tragically, Walt Disney died less than two months after his EPCOT introduction was filmed, passing away before the pitch was screened and before New Tomorrowland opened to the public. His ambitious vision of a prototype community did not become a reality, but its name lives on in the Epcot theme park (formerly “EPCOT Center”) at Walt Disney World in Florida—although the eventual EPCOT park became more of a permanent World’s Fair than a real-life city of the future. The WEDway PeopleMover did not realize its potential, either: The Disneyland attraction closed in 1995, to be replaced by the faster (but short-lived) Rocket Rods ride, which itself closed in 2001.

Disneyland park-goers can still see the PeopleMover’s abandoned tracks snaking through Tomorrowland, displaying curved, arched supports that Santiago Calatrava would surely approve of. (Thankfully, a PeopleMover can still be experienced at the Magic Kingdom park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, where the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover continues to provide a leisurely tour of nearby attractions.)

An overhead section of the now-disused PeopleMover track in Tomorrowland, seen in 2009. Photograph by Loren Javier, CC BY-ND 2.0.

Of course, the PeopleMover also lives on via the Axiom, whose reimagining of the concept is almost a microcosm of Walt’s vision for EPCOT. Aboard the Axiom, it’s a PeopleMover (not a monorail) that fulfills the role of high-speed arterial transport, with individual BnL hover chairs completing the “final mile” of the journey via preset illuminated paths (blue for humans, white for robots, red for stewardbots). It may not match the scale of Disney’s EPCOT dream, but it’s nonetheless fitting that Walt’s vision of a transportational future made the trip into space.

Illuminated paths provide hover-chair routes throughout the Axiom
…defining a “final mile” pathway to each passenger’s room. Here, the normally blue “human” pathways have turned bright green to indicate that plant life has been found and the Axiom is preparing to return to Earth.

During WALL·E’s tour of the passenger decks, we discover that the Axiom’s computer is voiced by none other than Alien’s Ellen Ripley. Casting Sigourney Weaver as the disembodied voice of a space-based computer is clearly ironic, especially given her experience with such voices in Alien and Aliens. WALL·E ups the irony by having Weaver narrate not one but two scenes that would feel all too familiar to her xenomorph-hunting counterpart, triggering bonus space-peril associations for Alien fans. (Weaver also plays a disembodied voice in Andrew Stanton’s Finding Dory, aping her narration of nature documentaries.)

“Twenty seconds to self-destruct,” says Ripley, as WALL·E tries in vain to stop his LifePod’s self-destruct sequence.
Ripley knows what she’s talking about—she was counted down to self-destruction herself in Alien.
“Activating airlock disposal,” says Ripley, as EVE and WALL·E try to avoid being sucked out of an industrial-sized airlock…
…with spinning red lights around the sides.
Ripley knows what she’s talking about—she narrowly avoided airlock doom herself in Aliens.

Alien and Aliens are not the only sci-fi movies to get a nod from WALL·E. On the Axiom bridge, we meet AUTO, the ship’s autopilot robot. It might be hard to believe just by looking at him, but AUTO is actually an Evil Space-Based Computer. His design is clearly influenced by a certain other ESBC—that central red eye is a direct reference to 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL, giving an immediate signal that this robot is not to be trusted.

AUTO, the Axiom autopilot. Aspects of his design may be familiar to those of you who have read the 2001 article.
HAL, the Discovery One autopilot. Aspects of his design may be familiar to those of you who are reading this WALL·E article.

AUTO’s physical similarity to HAL gives him a practical similarity, too. On the rare occasions we see the world from AUTO’s vantage point, we get an extreme fish-eye view of the surrounding area, just as we did for HAL in 2001. WALL·E combines HAL’s fish-eye view with The Terminator’s red HUD hue, making AUTO’s evil intent doubly clear to any discerning fan of sci-fi.

AUTO’s fish-eye view, from WALL·E.
HAL’s fish-eye view, from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

AUTO and HAL belong to a long-standing tradition of sci-fi automata whose glowing red eye(s) give away their evil nature. They really are everywhere in sci-fi movies—from the Model 101 in The Terminator, via the replicants in Blade Runner, to the evil wriggly thing inserted into Neo’s belly button in The Matrix.

After having all of its skin burnt off in a fire, The Terminator’s T-800 displays some impressive evil red eyes.
The evil wriggly thing that works its way into Neo’s belly in The Matrix has a trademark evil red eye.
The sentinels in The Matrix take evil red eyes to a whole new level.

That red glow has its benefits, however. You can always tell when an evil robot has been finally defeated from the fact that its red eye(s) slowly fade to black. The Terminator’s T-800, The Matrix’s wriggly thing, and WALL·E’s AUTO all follow this trope when deactivated.

As The Terminator’s T-800 is squished beneath the sheets of an industrial steel press, its evil red eye fades slowly to black.
After removing the wriggly thing from Neo’s belly, Trinity discards it in the rain, where its evil red eye fades slowly to black.
After switching the Axiom from autopilot to manual control, AUTO’s evil red eye fades slowly to black.

AUTO may look like the movie’s bad guy, but his actions are simply an example of artificial intelligence following its programming too literally. To understand his motives, we must remember that BnL’s original plan was for its star liners to return to Earth as soon as an EVE probe found proof that life was once more sustainable. Five years after their departure, however, BnL autopilots were sent a directive by CEO Shelby Forthright telling them to keep their craft in space indefinitely, because the cleanup process on Earth was not going to succeed. Six hundred and ninety-five years later, with no subsequent instructions to the contrary, AUTO is simply following this command to the letter, blocking any and all attempts to return to Earth.

In this regard, AUTO is eerily similar to 2001’s HAL, whose murderous tendencies aboard the Discovery were similarly driven by an inability to reconcile a contradiction in his programming. In the movie’s sequel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact, we learn that the basic purpose of HAL’s design was “the accurate processing of information without distortion or concealment.” We also discover that HAL was instructed (via Directive NSD 342/23) to lie to Dave and Frank about the real reason for the Discovery’s mission. After lip-reading that they planned to disconnect him, HAL determined that the only logical way for him to both keep processing and avoid lying was for Dave and Frank to die.

AUTO’s own instruction is Directive A113, whose numbering may sound familiar to Pixar fans. “A113” appears in every Pixar film, from a family license plate in Toy Story to an underwater camera model in Finding Nemo. (Indeed, it’s even in Brave, where the roman numerals ACXIII appear carved just above the front door of a witch’s hut.) The reason for its repeated inclusion is that room A1-13 was the classroom for the Character Animation Program at the California Institute of the Arts, where Pixar alumni John Lasseter, Pete Docter, and Andrew Stanton studied. (This explains why it’s also the number on the door of Riley’s classroom in Inside Out, and on the Scaring 101 classroom door in Monsters University.) WALL·E may be its highest-profile outing, but it’s there in every Pixar movie if you keep your eyes peeled.

AUTO triggers Directive A113.

The majority of WALL·E’s robots are voiced by Ben Burtt, the Academy Award-winning sound designer and creator of R2D2’s bleeps. AUTO’s voice, however, is provided by MacInTalk, a speech synthesis technology first used to announce the Apple Macintosh computer in January 1984. (You may also recognize MacInTalk as the lead vocalist on Radiohead’s “Fitter Happier,” from 1997’s OK Computer album.)

MacInTalk’s inclusion in WALL·E makes it one of only two Apple voice synthesis technologies to star in a feature film; the other is Siri, who provides the voice for ’Puter, Batman’s high-tech assistant in The LEGO Batman Movie.

“‘Puter”, Batman’s Siri-based computer assistant, from The LEGO Batman Movie. (The Batmobile’s interfaces are, perhaps inevitably, set in Eurostile Bold.)

Despite the technology’s age, I’m happy to report that MacInTalk voices still ship with macOS today. If you’d like to turn your Mac into an Evil Space-Based Computer, simply open the System Preferences application, select Accessibility and then Speech, and enable the “Ralph” system voice.

In addition to AUTO, there are two more nods to 2001: A Space Odyssey in WALL·E, both of which take advantage of preexisting associations for dramatic or comedic effect. The first is WALL·E’s brief escapade in a LifePod, the design of which seems clearly inspired by 2001’s EVA pods. That iconic ball-like shape immediately triggers an association with interstellar peril, which WALL·E soon discovers is entirely justified.

One of the Discovery’s EVA pods is activated in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
One of the Axiom’s LifePods is activated in WALL·E.
The pod design in 2001 has many similarities with its WALL·E counterpart…
…though it does not (as far as we know) include an optional satellite dish, parachute, flare set, or inflatable life raft.

The second 2001 reference is a knowing usage of Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra, when Captain McCrea becomes the first human to stand up and walk in possibly hundreds of years. It’s an appropriate enough use of the music—2001’s monoliths oversee (and supposedly trigger) several leaps in mankind’s evolution, so it’s entirely valid to hear those famous chords when the captain makes his first steps (even though this is technically a regression, not an evolution).

Determined to tackle the mutinous AUTO, Captain McCrea steadies himself…
…and drags himself to his feet, to the tune of Also sprach Zarathustra.

Of course, WALL·E is not alone in riffing on Strauss’s classic melody. It is similarly parodied in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (as a 2001 monolith turns into a bar of chocolate) and Zoolander (as Hansel considers smashing Mugatu’s iMac with a nearby bone). If that’s not enough, it’s also in Pixar’s Toy Story 2 and Cars 3, plus other animated movies including Kung Fu Panda 3, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, and The Simpsons Movie. On the live-action front, it’s in Man on the Moon, Catch-22, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, Clueless, Turner & Hooch, and Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, to mention just a few.

In 2005’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka transports a bar of chocolate via television to the tune of Also sprach Zarathustra
…transforming 2001’s famous monolith into a bar of Wonka Nutty Crunch Surprise.
In 2001’s Zoolander, non-evolved male models Derek Zoolander and Hansel smack an iMac chimpanzee-style to the tune of Also sprach Zarathustra
…before Hansel grabs a handy bone to use as a tool.

Despite AUTO’s best efforts, McCrea manages to switch him to MANUAL and sets the Axiom on a hyperjump trajectory back to Earth. The hyperjump looks exactly like you’d expect, which is exactly like the USS Enterprise engaging warp drive in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

The Axiom makes a hyperjump toward Earth in WALL·E.
The Enterprise engages warp drive toward “thataway” in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Once again, WALL·E is sneakily using prior sci-fi art as a shortcut, re-creating familiar effects so that the Axiom’s quick journey home can be explained without exposition. (It might also account for why everyone aboard the Axiom experiences a brief stint of The Motion Picture’s wormhole effect during the jump.)

The Enterprise bridge goes all “wormhole effect” when it engages warp speed while still within the solar system.
EVE and WALL·E go all “wormhole effect” when the Axiom hyperjumps back to Earth.

As these homages show, WALL·E is not afraid to borrow from its predecessors to gain some free sci-fi association. Indeed, such references are celebrated and elevated, drawing on the production team’s clear fondness for vintage sci-fi to create a movie that is both a love letter to the classics and a worthy addition to the list. WALL·E capitalizes on our existing associations with the future to communicate complex plot points and motives with minimal dialogue and text. It is, to my mind, Pixar’s most realistic vision of an internally consistent world, despite the polar opposites of its Earth- and space-based environments. It’s political and satirical, representing utopia and dystopia with enough humor to poke fun at the downsides of both. In short, WALL·E envisages a future that could so easily be bleak and pessimistic—but is instead inspired by the naïveté of its inhuman heroes to re-create the optimism that took man into space in the first place.

Wow! That was good, wasn’t it? What an amazing article! So amazing, in fact, that you probably want to impulse-buy the Typeset in the Future book it comes from, right this very second. Here are some convenient links to buy it from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or you can head down to your local bookstore (which it is much harder for me to link to) when the book is released on December 11 2018.

The book also includes an interview with Pixar designers Ralph Eggleston and Craig Foster about the making of WALL·E, plus six more equally amazing movie studies, alongside interviews with Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall) and Mike Okuda (Star Trek). You can read more about it here if for some reason you’re still not convinced.

Dave Addey

by Dave Addey at Tuesday, 2018-12-04 13:33


Some TeX Developments (by Joseph Wright)

Blog on the move

I’ve been writing Some TeX Developments for ten years now, starting off on WordPress.com before moving to a self-hosted WordPress set up. All of this time, I’ve stuck with WordPress as it’s a very powerful and flexible system. However, it’s got some downsides too. In particular, as it is dynamic, database-driven, system, the pages are created each time someone requests them. That’s great for things like supporting comments, but it means there’s a non-trivial amount of work done each time someone views a page. That turns into a real cost when you are paying for your own hosting. My most recent hosts were really good for support, but I needed enough CPU cycles to push me into the ‘non-trivial’ cost bracket. At the same time, a dynamic site means that there’s always a security risk.

Enter GitHub Pages

I’m hardly the only person to come across these issues, and it’s no surprise that there are a variety of good solutions. One that’s really gained in popularity over recent years is GitHub Pages. This uses a specially-named Git repository to run a generation system called Jekyll. Unlike WordPress, Jekyll generates pages when the sources are committed, so the pages themselves are static ‘classical’ HTML.

Rinse and repeat

To go from WordPress to Jekyll, I started by extracting all of the content using the WordPress to Jekyll Exporter plugin. That gave me a set of HTML files which nearly worked straight away (but with no styling). After a few bits of clean-up to make things work at all, I then did a load of search-and-replace steps. Most of these were to convert the content to Markdown, clean up minor mark-up issues, etc.. I also took the opportunity to work on fixing typos, broken links and so on: that is a lot easier to do with a local set of files, compared to WordPress.

Most of that work was very mechanical, but it took a while: most of that was because of flaws in my original text, not the exporter!

What’s missing?

Exporting the content doesn’t deal with the website style, nor does it include comments. The latter don’t work in Jekyll directly, though one can use Disqus. I decided against that for the present: I don’t really need a discussion system for my blog.

Getting the style right could have been sorted by copy-pasting the raw HTML from the old site. But I decided to take the opportunity to revise the layout. At the present, it’s based on the LaTeX Project one, but rather simplified. I may well look at this again, fixing minor issues as I go. But I’m no design expert: I’d be very happy to have suggestions!

The final thing to do is to get the web address sorted. I’m just sorting out with my registrar and GitHub, and that will be done shortly. Hopefully, with that done, my latest blog rearrangements will be done!

Monday, 2018-11-26 00:00


TeXblog - Typography with TeX and LaTeX (by Stefan Kottwitz)

Netzwerk-Jobs in Hamburg und der ganzen Welt

Tl;dr: es gibt da ein paar Jobangebote.

Nach meinem Mathestudium wollte ich ja erstmal in die Ferne und bin als IT Officer auf ein Kreuzfahrtschiff gestiegen. Leben und Arbeiten in der Besatzung mit der Technik war spannend und die Reisen so erlebenswert, so dass ich auf verschiedenen Schiffen zehn Jahre um die Welt gefahren bin.

Als ich sesshafter werden wollte, wechselte ich ins HQ einer Kreuzfahrt-Reederei ins Netzwerkteam. Routing, Switching und Firewalls waren mein Thema, für eine Flotte von Schiffen, am interessantesten waren neu zu bauende Schiffe. Team und Job waren super. Es war halt immer noch einiges Reisen und Pendeln zur Arbeit, und ich hatte mittlerweile Kinder in Hamburg.

Daher wechselte ich zur Lufthansa nach Hamburg, in eine Abteilung mit Schwerpunkt auf Software und Infrastruktur für Kreuzfahrtschiffe. Der Zusammenhang ergab sich, weil auch Lufthansa onboard-Infotainment und Technik hat, was man auch auf Schiffen einsetzen kann.

Unsere Abteilung hat das Netzwerk für zig Kreuzfahrtschiffe designt und gebaut. Ich bin manchmal wochenlang in Hamburg im Büro für Testaufbauten (Datacenters und Distribution für große Schiffe) oder Papierkram (Designs), manchmal so 1-2 Wochen auf Werften in Deutschland, Italien, Frankreich, Japan, Singapur, Bahamas, oder Finnland, mal eine Woche auf See, manchmal bei Kunden in Miami oder Seattle. Ich finde es eine gute Kombination, so bin ich weiter bei Cruiselines und dennoch bei einer Airline, kombiniert. Das Spektrum reicht von entspannt im Büro zu robuster lärmender roher Werft-Arbeit mit Helm bis hin zu Support auf wunderschönen Schiffen auf See mit Filet-Steaks. Halt auch oft im Flieger. Aber nicht dauernd, ich hab ja auch meine drei Kinder und bin entsprechend sesshaft in Hamburg.

Wieso ich das auf einer TeX-Seite berichte? Weil ich manchmal TeX für alles mögliche einsetze: Dokumentation, Grafiken, ich programmiere sogar Switche mit TeX-Makros.

Warum ich das überhaupt erzähle? Weil unser Team Verstärkung sucht. Wir sind ein erfahrenes Team, wo man sich einarbeiten kann. Die Projekte werden halt mehr, also brauchen wir mehr Leute. Aktuell suchen wir Netzwerk-Kollegen, und zwar mindestens zwei: einen für Cisco-Netzwerke (genau das was ich mache) und einen für HP-basierte Netze (Aruba). Dafür gibt es öffentliche Stellen-Ausschreibungen. Erfahrungen mit Hardware und Designs des jeweiligen Herstellers sind wichtig. Ansonsten? Was drauf haben und engagiert sein – mal aus Kollegen-Sicht ohne HR-sprech. Wir arbeiten Hamburg-basiert, doch ich kann mir vorstellen, falls man gleich in externe Projekte reingehen kann dann muss man nicht gleich dauernd in Hamburg wohnen. Unter uns – ich sehe auch Bedarf an Leuten mit Erfahrungen in VMware ESX oder Voice (Cisco).

Falls jemand neugierig ist und Interesse an der Arbeit hat, schreib mich gern an unter stefan@texblog.net – ich kann noch das eine oder andere erzählen.

Und erzählt es gern weiter am TeX-Stammtisch oder am Linux-Stammtisch. Vielleicht hat ja einer eurer Bekannten Interesse?

by stefan at Tuesday, 2018-11-20 20:41


Uwes kleines Technikblog - Kategorie LaTeX (by Uwe Ziegenhagen)

Checklisten setzen mit

Mit dem typed-checklist Paket lassen sich einfach komplexe Checklisten setzen, hier ein Beispiel aus der Dokumentation:

\Goal{open}{I have a trendy haircut}
\Task{done}{find a hairdresser}
\Task{started}{make an appointment}
\Task{open}{go to the hairdresser}
\Goal{achieved}{I have a typed checklist}


Uwe Ziegenhagen mag LaTeX und Python, auch gern in Kombination. Hat Dir dieser Beitrag geholfen und möchtest Du Dich dafür bedanken? Dann unterstütze doch vielleicht die Dingfabrik Köln e.V. mit einem kleinen Beitrag. Details zur Bezahlung findest Du unter Spenden für die Dingfabrik.

More Posts - Website

by Uwe at Saturday, 2018-11-17 16:23

Changelogs setzen mittels „changelog“ Paket

Mit dem changelog Paket gibt es eine komfortable Möglichkeit, changelogs in Dokumenten zu setzen. Hier ein Beispiel, entnommen der Dokumentation.



\added Really cool features

\item A version with only a date

\item A version with no date

\begin{version}[v=1.0.1, yanked]
\item sasda



Uwe Ziegenhagen mag LaTeX und Python, auch gern in Kombination. Hat Dir dieser Beitrag geholfen und möchtest Du Dich dafür bedanken? Dann unterstütze doch vielleicht die Dingfabrik Köln e.V. mit einem kleinen Beitrag. Details zur Bezahlung findest Du unter Spenden für die Dingfabrik.

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by Uwe at Saturday, 2018-11-17 16:21

Zwei DIN A5 Seiten auf einer DIN A4 Seite setzen

Für meine Studentinnen und Studenten erstelle ich zu jeder Vorlesung eine kurze Wiederholung auf Basis der exam Klasse. Üblicherweise reicht ein DIN A5 Blatt, daher liegt es nahe, zwei DIN A5 Blätter auf ein DIN A4 Blatt zu drucken.

Um nicht den Text zweimal setzen zu müssen, gibt es zwei nützliche Lösungen (neben der Nutzung von Adobe Acrobat):

Duplizieren der Seite mittels pdftk:

Für pdftk habe ich eine kleine Batch-Datei duplicate.bat geschrieben, die dann mittels duplicate datei1.pdf datei2.pdf aufgerufen wird.

@echo off
pdftk %1 cat 1-end 1-end output %2

Duplizieren der Seiten in LaTeX mittels pgfpages

Über TSX (https://tex.stackexchange.com/questions/142187/compile-two-a5-pages-on-one-a4-page/142272) bin ich auf eine Lösung gestoßen, die im LaTeX-Lauf selbst die Seite dupliziert:


\usepackage{pgfpages}                                 % <— load the package
\pgfpagesuselayout{2 on 1}[a4paper,landscape,border shrink=5mm] % <— set options

\usepackage{atbegshi}  % duplicate the content at shipout time





Uwe Ziegenhagen mag LaTeX und Python, auch gern in Kombination. Hat Dir dieser Beitrag geholfen und möchtest Du Dich dafür bedanken? Dann unterstütze doch vielleicht die Dingfabrik Köln e.V. mit einem kleinen Beitrag. Details zur Bezahlung findest Du unter Spenden für die Dingfabrik.

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by Uwe at Saturday, 2018-11-17 13:54


Beautiful Type

Tropical Cocktails from @ivancastrolettering. Check out his...

Tropical Cocktails from @ivancastrolettering. Check out his account to find oit about the book related to this lettering piece. https://ift.tt/2K9hQgD

Friday, 2018-11-16 15:28


Beautiful Type

I hope everybody did not forget to vote in the US yesterday 😜...

I hope everybody did not forget to vote in the US yesterday 😜 Seems @charlesandthorn did 😉 https://ift.tt/2F8wiXw

Wednesday, 2018-11-07 08:27



Medieval Book Carousels

Medieval readers, especially studious ones, must have cursed their desks from time to time. It is not easy to manage desk space when working with often large and clunky medieval books. Scribes and translators developed work-arounds for these space issues, as I have shown in a blog post on medieval desktops. Scribes would place two … Continue reading Medieval Book Carousels

by Erik Kwakkel at Friday, 2018-11-02 16:54


LaTeX Project

Experimental benchmarking functions

Experimental benchmarking functions

Prompted by a TeX-sx question on benchmarking, the team have added a new experimental package to expl3: l3benchmark. This new material provides a convenient interface for benchmarking: seeing how long it takes for blocks of code to run. This uses the underlying ‘timer’ support in modern TeX engines (XeTeX at present not included), but adds some handy wrappers so most of the hard work is automated.

The new code is pretty experimental, so we are hoping to get feedback on the interfaces. For example, we’ve provided \benchmark:n, which automatically loops code to get enough run time to produce a ‘meaningful’ timing. Do we also need to have a \benchmark_once:n version, or how about a begin/end pairing for code that can’t be run in a loop?

We’d love to hear from developers on how they see this, either through a posting on the LATEX-L discussion list, by mail to the team, as a GitHub issue, or otherwise.

Sunday, 2018-10-28 00:00


Some TeX Developments (by Joseph Wright)

TUGboat goes (almost) open access

Members of TUG might have seen a survey from the Board asking about the status of TUGboat. To date, the journal issues have been available online one year after publications. The Board were interested in how going open-access would affect the number of members.

The analysis is now in, and the result is clear: every issue except the current one is now publicly accessible. The reason is simple: most members will continue to join TUG even with direct access to TUGboat for free. Speaking personally, I like the print version, and I’m happy to pay for it. I’m also very mindful that we need TUG well beyond TUGboat, so I’m very happy with the decision.

Lets hope we see more people reading TUGboat, and joining TUG (and using TeX!) as a result.

Saturday, 2018-10-20 00:00



TUGboat 39:2 published, previous issues available

TUGboat volume 39, number 2 (the TUG 2018 (Rio) proceedings) has been mailed to TUG members. It is also available online and from the TUG store. Please consider joining or renewing your TUG membership if you haven't already. Furthermore, following the results of the recent TUGboat open-access survey, prior TUGboat issues 38:3 and 39:1 are now publicly available. Going forward, the technical articles in the current issue will be available to members only, while all contents of previous issues will be generally available.

Friday, 2018-10-19 20:14



LaTeX Project

New kids on the block

New kids on the block

I’m happy to be able to announce that Ulrike Fischer and Enrico Gregorio have joined the LaTeX Project Team (Enrico already early this year, but I never properly announced that, so I’m doing that now). Contact details are on the team page.

Ulrike Enrico

Ulrike is an accomplished and well-known LaTeX user, developer and TeX consultant, known both for her work in various areas of TeX and her thoughtful user support on various platforms both national and international.

Enrico is a professor at the Computer Science department of the University of Verona. He will need no introduction either to any TeX user who ever visited TeX StackExchange where Enrico is known under the name of egreg, the person who holds the highest reputation rank there (a whooping 200k above the next person, who — guess what — is also on the LaTeX Team).

We are extremely greateful to have both of them on board and gain from their experience and knowledge!

A warm welcome — Frank

Tuesday, 2018-10-16 00:00




TeX & Friends (by Jürgen Fenn)

Zotero mit Unpaywall

Eine kurze Durchsage: Zotero nutzt in der neuesten Version Unpaywall, um auf PDFs von Aufsätzen zuzugreifen, die von den Verlagen ansonsten hinter einer Bezahlschranke versteckt werden. Der Geist ist aus der Flasche, es gibt kein Zurück mehr. Die Paywall wird immer löcheriger und ist schon lange am Ende. Wer wird denn da noch prozessieren?

by schneeschmelze at Thursday, 2018-10-11 08:34




Uwes kleines Technikblog - Kategorie LaTeX (by Uwe Ziegenhagen)

Einfach neue globale Optionen setzen und auswerten

Von Marei aus Regensburg (Danke!) stammt das folgende Beispiel. Es zeigt, wie man mit expl3 Syntax einfach neue globale Optionen setzen und auswerten kann.



\exp_args:Nc \clist_map_inline:nn {@classoptionslist}{% 
\str_case_x:nn {#1}{% 





Uwe Ziegenhagen mag LaTeX und Python, auch gern in Kombination. Hat Dir dieser Beitrag geholfen und möchtest Du Dich dafür bedanken? Dann unterstütze doch vielleicht die Dingfabrik Köln e.V. mit einem kleinen Beitrag. Details zur Bezahlung findest Du unter Spenden für die Dingfabrik.

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by Uwe at Sunday, 2018-10-07 11:37

Serifenlose Mathematik mit Fira Math

Hier ein kurzes Beispiel für den serifenlosen Mathematik-Font Fira Math.

\setmathfont{Fira Math}

x_{1,2} = -\frac{p}{2} \pm \sqrt{\left(\frac{p}{2}\right)^2 - q}


Uwe Ziegenhagen mag LaTeX und Python, auch gern in Kombination. Hat Dir dieser Beitrag geholfen und möchtest Du Dich dafür bedanken? Dann unterstütze doch vielleicht die Dingfabrik Köln e.V. mit einem kleinen Beitrag. Details zur Bezahlung findest Du unter Spenden für die Dingfabrik.

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by Uwe at Sunday, 2018-10-07 11:22




Doodles in Medieval Manuscripts

Doodling is something we all do, from time to time, often without realising. Listening to someone on the phone or perhaps attending a meeting (or class), we scribble, rather haphazardly and spontaneously, squiggly lines, random words, and mini drawings. The practice is quite old. Doodled squiggly lines and mini drawings are encountered frequently in medieval … Continue reading Doodles in Medieval Manuscripts

by Erik Kwakkel at Friday, 2018-10-05 18:46



TeX & Friends (by Jürgen Fenn)

Aquamacs nicht kompatibel mit macOS Mojave

David Reitter weist auf der Mailingliste OS X Emacs darauf hin, dass Emacs 25 und 26 – also auch der aktuelle Aquamacs – nicht mit macOS Mojave kompatibel seien. Auf Nachfrage war die Rede von Problemen bei der Textdarstellung, ohne weitere Einzelheiten. Wer also mit Emacs teXt oder sonst arbeitet, sollte seinen Mac derzeit noch nicht auf das vergangene Woche veröffentlichte System upgraden.

by schneeschmelze at Sunday, 2018-09-30 21:00


Beautiful Type

What a beautiful piece of wood @hamiltonwoodtype and designed by...

What a beautiful piece of wood @hamiltonwoodtype and designed by @nicksherman https://ift.tt/2y0xGV8

Friday, 2018-09-28 16:27

Fantastic Font Weights Cap by @markcaneso. You can buy directly...

Fantastic Font Weights Cap by @markcaneso. You can buy directly fron his shop. https://ift.tt/2R70pQR

Friday, 2018-09-28 06:27






Me, Myself, and I: The Story of Two Medieval Selfies

Selfies are by no means an exclusively modern phenomenon. As shown in a previous post on medieval selfies, some decorators made self-portraits in manuscripts, showing that the practice predates print – albeit without the use of a camera. They did so to identify themselves as the creator of a miniature or historiated initial, or even … Continue reading Me, Myself, and I: The Story of Two Medieval Selfies

by Erik Kwakkel at Thursday, 2018-09-20 17:52


TeX & Friends (by Jürgen Fenn)

Keine Zotero-Erweiterung mehr für Safari 12

Eine Woche vor dem Release von macOS Mojave hat Apple schon heute mehrere Updates für Sierra und High Sierra veröffentlicht, darunter auch den neuen Safari 12.

Da Apple sein Ökosystem immer mehr schließt, müssen nun alle Erweiterungen für Safari durch die AppStore bezogen werden. Frei verteilte Versionen von Safari-Erweiterungen mit der Dateiendung .safariextz funktionieren nicht mehr, sie werden beim ersten Start von Safari 12 deaktiviert und gelöscht.

Das betrifft einige weit verbreiteter Erweiterungen, in meinem Fall vor allem den Werbeblocker uBlock Origin und den Connector zu der Literaturverwaltung Zotero.

Im Zotero-Forum wird darüber schon seit Juni diskutiert, und die Entwickler haben sich dafür entschieden, das Bookmarklet zu überarbeiten, mit dem man aus Safari in die lokale Zotero-App speichern kann. Beim nächsten Synchronisieren wandern die neu erstellten Einträge dann in die ggf. angebundene Cloud. Eine Zotero-Erweiterung für die AppStore soll es aber nicht mehr geben.

Wer also weiter mit Safari und Zotero arbeiten will, bleibt nur der Workaround über das Bookmarklet. Der weitere Betrieb von Safari 11 unter Sierra und High Sierra ist möglich, aber aus Sicherheitsgründen nicht zu empfehlen. Wer flexibler ist, kann stattdessen den Webbrowser wechseln und Firefox oder Google Chrome einsetzen, denn deren Zotero-Erweiterungen funktionieren natürlich weiterhin klaglos.

by schneeschmelze at Tuesday, 2018-09-18 16:44

Beautiful Type

Amazing work by @joanquiros! Check out his page to watch the...

Amazing work by @joanquiros! Check out his page to watch the animated version
#lettering#handlettering#type#typography#sketch#sketchbook#letters#graphicdesign#illustration#drawing#pencil#handtype#calligraphy#letteringco#typespot#typegang#goodtype#thedailytype#typespire#typematters#welovetype#betype#calligritype#handmadefont#typedaily#thedesigntip#typographyinspired https://ift.tt/2D3AqqC

Tuesday, 2018-09-18 10:27


Beautiful Type

Fantastic series of posters made by @youbringfire for one of his...

Fantastic series of posters made by @youbringfire for one of his client. Here is one of my favourite. https://ift.tt/2QE4mN0

Monday, 2018-09-17 15:27


LyX 2.3.1 released.

First Maintenance Release in 2.3.x Series

Monday, 2018-09-17 01:10



TeXblog - Typography with TeX and LaTeX (by Stefan Kottwitz)

Förderung durch DANTE

DANTE, der Verein deutschsprachiger TeX-Anwender, fördert weiterhin TeX-Webseiten wie TeX-Internetforen und mehr. Installiert und betreut werden zwei Server von mir. Die finanzielle Unterstützung von DANTE deckt den kompletten Betrieb zweier Server ab, von Hardware-Miete und Gigabit-Internet-Anbindung bis hin zu Backup-Space und Servicegarantie. Die zwei Root-Server stehen bei Hetzner Online als dedicated Server, dort kann man Kosten einsehen. Die 125€ monatlich summieren sich auf 1500€ im Jahr, die von DANTE übernommen werden.

Vor ein paar Jahren habe ich eine Auswahl hier vorgestellt: https://texwelt.de/blog/dante/

Es ist ein bisschen mehr geworden mit der Zeit, hier ist eine fast vollständige Liste: http://tex.world/list/

Bei Gelegenheit gern mehr zu diesem und jenem.

Vielen Dank an DANTE und die Mitglieder!

by stefan at Saturday, 2018-09-15 00:49


TeX Stack Exchange

Unanswered questions

Today I browsed through unanswered questions on LaTeX.org. Perhaps you got an idea how to help a user?

Some randomly chosen examples:

In  my opinion, it’s good to answer older questions too. The questioner, who is usually subscribed to topic updates, would receive a notification and may rejoice at still getting advice. And we forum readers, who did not answer, may learn something new too.

So, it’s very welcome if you answer any open question!

  • There’s a long list of questions without any answer. Besides this link here, there’s a menu link on the right. I browse them occasionally and pick some I can answer. Do you see some you can answer?
  • There’s a list of active topics, where the ones without green checkmark ticks are unsolved. Answers and queries are desired.

Any help is welcome!

by stefan at Friday, 2018-09-14 10:51



The Architecture of the Medieval Page

It may seem a stretch to compare page design with architecture, but the comparison really works, I think. Looking at the medieval page, it is not difficult to regard it as an engineered construction: a convoluted space defined by columns and corridors, with rooms inhabited by thoughts and ideas (Figure 1). Nothing encountered on the … Continue reading The Architecture of the Medieval Page

by Erik Kwakkel at Friday, 2018-09-07 16:36


Uwes kleines Technikblog - Kategorie LaTeX (by Uwe Ziegenhagen)

Lernkarten mit LaTeX erstellen

Vor einigen Wochen habe ich eine Möglichkeit gesucht, Lernkarten mittels LaTeX zu erstellen: Frage auf der Vorderseite, Antwort auf der Rückseite.

Auf github habe ich dann https://github.com/kellertuer/Kartei gefunden, das genau diese Anforderungen umsetzt. Das Projekt ist leider noch nicht auf CTAN, vielleicht werde ich dem Autor mal dabei helfen. Aktuell muss man halt alle Dateien von github holen und a) in den lokalen TeX-Baum legen oder b) einfach in das eigene Projektverzeichnis packen.

Hier jetzt ein Beispiel:



	\begin{karte}[Oben links]{Wie groß ist die mittlere Entfernung zwischen Erde und Sonne?}[Oben rechts]
	149.600.000 km
	\begin{karte}[Oben links]{Wie groß ist die mittlere Entfernung zwischen Erde und Mond?}[Oben rechts]
	384.400 km
	\begin{karte}[Oben links]{Wie groß ist die mittlere Entfernung zwischen Erde und Andromeda?}[Oben rechts]
	2.537.000 Lichtjahre
	\begin{karte}[Oben links]{Wie groß ist die mittlere Entfernung zwischen Erde und Andromeda?}[Oben rechts]


Uwe Ziegenhagen mag LaTeX und Python, auch gern in Kombination. Hat Dir dieser Beitrag geholfen und möchtest Du Dich dafür bedanken? Dann unterstütze doch vielleicht die Dingfabrik Köln e.V. mit einem kleinen Beitrag. Details zur Bezahlung findest Du unter Spenden für die Dingfabrik.

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by Uwe at Wednesday, 2018-09-05 03:46


Uwes kleines Technikblog - Kategorie LaTeX (by Uwe Ziegenhagen)

Syntaxhighlighting mit Pygments und LaTeX (Beamer-Version)

Das minted-Syntaxhighlighting für eingebetteten Code funktioniert natürlich auch für Beamer-Präsentationen. (Hinweis: Python und pygments müssen installiert sein, --shell-escape muss aktiviert sein)



\setminted[python]{frame=lines, framesep=2mm, baselinestretch=1.2, bgcolor=colBack,fontsize=\footnotesize,linenos}
\setminted[text]{frame=lines, framesep=2mm, baselinestretch=1.2, bgcolor=colBack,fontsize=\footnotesize,linenos}
  {\xdef\d@tn@me{#1}\xdef\r@ncmd{python #1.py > #1.plog}%
  \typeout{Writing file #1}\VerbatimOut{#1.py}% 
  {\endVerbatimOut %
 \edef\d@r@ncmd{\the\toks0{\the\toks1}}\d@r@ncmd %
 \noindent Input
 \noindent Output


\frametitle{Python Code Evaluation}

import pandas as pd




Uwe Ziegenhagen mag LaTeX und Python, auch gern in Kombination. Hat Dir dieser Beitrag geholfen und möchtest Du Dich dafür bedanken? Dann unterstütze doch vielleicht die Dingfabrik Köln e.V. mit einem kleinen Beitrag. Details zur Bezahlung findest Du unter Spenden für die Dingfabrik.

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by Uwe at Tuesday, 2018-09-04 18:52

TeX Stack Exchange

Ten years supporting on LaTeX.org

Today I celebrate my 9000th post on LaTeX.org. I don’t have the patience to wait until it’s 10k. 🙂


In 2008 I joined the forum, when it was maintained by Sven Wiegand, the creator of the TeXnicCenter editor and forum founder in 2007. Soon I supported as moderator, in 2011 I took over the server maintainance.

While it’s not as fancy and addictive as the later established commercial TeX StackExchange site, LaTeX.org continues being alive and being a classic support site in the form of a discussion forum. I thank our moderators team, especially Johannes for his very active LaTeX support and Scott for his valuable LyX support.

I’m happy about everybody joining the site and helping out with answering questions. There are many unanswered questions, and I welcome even answers to older questions, since it helps further readers and a question poster may be glad to see there’s help.

The Announcements forum shows this and that what happened through the ten years.

by stefan at Tuesday, 2018-09-04 09:34


Uwes kleines Technikblog - Kategorie LaTeX (by Uwe Ziegenhagen)

Syntaxhighlighting mit Pygments und LaTeX

Hier ein Beispiel, wie man aus LaTeX-Dateien heraus a) Dateien schreibt b) diese Dateien durch einen externen Interpreter (in diesem Fall Python) ausführen lässt, c) die Ergebnisse wieder in TeX anzeigt und d) dabei das Syntax-Highlighting durch pygments erledigen lässt.

Wichtig: --shell-escape muss aktiviert sein, eine Python-Distribution (ich bevorzuge Anaconda) muss installiert sein, Python im Pfad sein.

Das Beispiel lässt sich leicht auf alle anderen Sprachen ausweiten, die im Batch-Verfahren ausführbar sind.

English: The following example shows how one can write code for external interpreters directly in LaTeX. During compilation the code is written to external files, run be the interpreter, its results stored in the corresponding .plog output file. Syntax hightlighting is done via pygments. --shell-escape must be set for the TeX-compiler!




\setminted[python]{frame=lines, framesep=2mm, baselinestretch=1.2, bgcolor=colBack,fontsize=\footnotesize,linenos}
\setminted[text]{frame=lines, framesep=2mm, baselinestretch=1.2, bgcolor=colBack,fontsize=\footnotesize,linenos}

  {\xdef\d@tn@me{#1}\xdef\r@ncmd{python #1.py > #1.plog}%
  \typeout{Writing file #1}\VerbatimOut{#1.py}% 
  {\endVerbatimOut %
 \edef\d@r@ncmd{\the\toks0{\the\toks1}}\d@r@ncmd %
 \noindent Input
 \noindent Output


import pandas as pd



Uwe Ziegenhagen mag LaTeX und Python, auch gern in Kombination. Hat Dir dieser Beitrag geholfen und möchtest Du Dich dafür bedanken? Dann unterstütze doch vielleicht die Dingfabrik Köln e.V. mit einem kleinen Beitrag. Details zur Bezahlung findest Du unter Spenden für die Dingfabrik.

More Posts - Website

by Uwe at Monday, 2018-09-03 19:25


LaTeX Project

Japanese translations of some important documents

Japanese translations of some important documents

Yukitoshi FUJIMURA kindly translated two documents that are distributed with standard LaTeX to the Japanese language. These are are

  • LaTeX2e for authors
  • User’s Guide for the amsmath Package (Version 2.1)

You will find them on the documentation page which got slightly reorganized at the same time. You will now also find there a compiled version of the full LaTeX2e source code (with index etc) and a number of other goodies.

Enjoy — Frank

Saturday, 2018-09-01 00:00


TeX Stack Exchange

Another CTAN mirror

The backbone of the TeX world is the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN). The single server dante.ctan.org is the core, this one and the content is maintained by the CTAN team. It provides more than 5000 TeX packages for installing and updating TeX and LaTeX. That site is mirrored by many servers around the world, distributing the network load and bringing the content closer to TeX users worldwide. This speeds up installing.

The CTAN team does a lot of very valuable work, for example handling more than a hundred uploads per month. I wanted to contribute something, so I installed a mirror site. That’s actually quite easy to do. If you maintain a public server, you could consider doing it too, especially in regions where mirrors are rare (sites with map).

I signed up to make it an of­fi­cial mir­ror. Now after one week, I think the web form where I submitted it did not work or the team is busy. On the other hand, there are already a bunch of mirrors in Germany. My server sits in a datacenter in Falkenberg, Saxonia, East Germany. So I will share this information here on the blog, and in some TeX forums I maintain.

Being a part of the CTAN network, I used the obvious address ctan.net.

You can browse it, use it as update repository or for installing TeX. I downloaded the TeX Live installer, and ran it by:

sudo ./install-tl -repository http://ctan.net/systems/texlive/tlnet

by stefan at Wednesday, 2018-08-22 20:22


TeX & Friends (by Jürgen Fenn)

Writer2LaTeX 1.6.1

Ziemlich unbemerkt hat Henrik Just die Entwicklung des Konverters Writer2LaTeX wieder aufgenommen. Nach einer Pause von drei Jahren (sic!) gab es im März 2018 erstmal eine neue Roadmap und die neue Version 1.6. Ein Bugfix 1.6.1 kam am 20. August heraus, herunterzuladen von Sourceforge.

Ab Version 2.0 soll Writer2LaTeX neu ausgerichtet werden. Zielformate sollen ab dieser Version nur noch LaTeX/BibTeX und HTML5/MathML sein, die von der Extension aus LibreOffice exportiert werden oder auf der Kommandozeile ausgehend von ODT konvertiert werden können. EPUB und XHTML als Zielformate werden entfallen, was zu verschmerzen ist, weil EPUB mittlerweile von LibreOffice nativ unterstützt wird und XHTML nicht mehr wirklich angesagt sein dürfte.

Zur Qualität der aktuellen Version kann ich nichts sagen, da Java in LibreOffice auf meinem Mac seit dem Umstieg von Snow Leopard auf Mavericks schon nicht mehr funktioniert und ich mich da auch nicht wirklich herausgefordert fühle, weil ich heutzutage in dieser Hinsicht eher mit Pandoc und org-mode arbeite, was mir völlig ausreicht, da ich sowieso fast alles in Emacs mache. Beide Konkurrenten haben eine sehr rührige Benutzer- und Entwicklergemeinde, sehr aktive Mailinglisten und laufen stabil. Trotzdem sollte man Writer2LaTeX auf dem Schirm behalten, denn LibreOffice ist gut etabliert, und wenn Henrik Just so aktiv weitermacht wie in den letzten Monaten, könnte da etwas Interessantes und Zeitgemäßes entstehen.

by schneeschmelze at Monday, 2018-08-20 22:30


TeX & Friends (by Jürgen Fenn)

Early Typography

Nachdem das Project Gutenberg wieder allseits frei abrufbar ist, sei nachträglich diese „Neuerscheinung“ mit Bezug zum Textsatz angezeigt:

Auch als PDF im Internet Archive:

by schneeschmelze at Sunday, 2018-08-12 20:25

TeXblog - Typography with TeX and LaTeX (by Stefan Kottwitz)

What happens on StackExchange

An intensive discussion is going on here: https://tex.meta.stackexchange.com. Let me summarize, what I read:

  • TeX.SE got a new design
  • There was a design discussion before, but no TeX user suggestion has been considered
  • There are a lot of opinion and suggestions
  • Some very active users call for boycott, some simply leave
  • People in the TeX community feel ignored and lost trust in StackExchange
  • The option of hosting an independent site is being discussed

New site theme live

When I read about the removal of the custom design the first time, about streamlining to be more effective, it reminded me of similar activities when a company goes to the stock market, tries becoming more effective for investors or buyers, outsources its IT department, or simply tries saving money. Speaking of that, I doubt the classical ways of a social network to earn money from the users works with TeX friends (selling advertising of stuff or jobs, working with user profiling data).

In the TeX.SE chat it was discussed as well. My last suggestion, a few minutes ago, was, to nicely ask SE if they would allow the TeX community to go free as an independent (TUG supported) site like it was with our blog tex.blogoverflow.com, when they decided to not support the site blogs any more. With the content that TeX uses created and with thanks to SE as the company with the technology that raised it.

I would happily support technically, as I already run three non-English TeX Q&A sites. Just a design should be done by somebody else. :-)


by stefan at Sunday, 2018-08-12 18:53


LaTeX Project

Talks at the 2018 TUG conference in Rio de Janeiro

Material from the TUG conference 2018 is now online

This year’s conference in Rio de Janeiro was worth attending, both because of various interesting talks, good discussions between participants and, of course, also because of the scenery. Fortunately for those who couldn’t make it, nearly all talks have been streamed live in excellent quality and have now been uploaded to YouTube. You find there, for example,

  • an interesting keynote talk by Roberto Ierusalimschy (one of the fathers of Lua) on The making of Lua
  • the lovely talk by Susanne Raab about ducks made with tikz presented by Paulo Cereda;
  • and many others.

From the LaTeX Project team Joseph, Will and myself presented talks on a number of different topics, ranging from LuaTeX-related work via LaTeX2e to LaTeX3. The abstracts, slides, handouts, etc. from our talks, as well as links to the recorded videos can be found as one block on the project publication pages so check them out if you are interested.

Enjoy – Frank

Monday, 2018-08-06 00:00


Thomas Schramm

Fußball-Halbjahreskalender August bis Dezember 2018 (PDF)

Und gleich hinterher der Halbjahreskalender mit den Terminen für die Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, CL, EL und Länderspielen. 2 A4-Seiten als PDF zum Ausdrucken, sollte auch auf größeres Format skalieren. Zum Verändern anbei der LaTeX-Quelltext, die PDF-Datei wurde mit XeLaTeX erzeugt.

by Thomas Schramm at Sunday, 2018-08-05 15:12


TeX & Friends (by Jürgen Fenn)

TUG2018 und Aquamacs 3.4

Auch bei der anhaltenden Hitzewelle gibt es Neues zu LaTeX und Umfeld zu vermelden:

  • Die Jahrestagung der TeX Users Group TUG2018 fand am vergangenen Wochenende in Rio de Janeiro statt. Sie wurde drei Tage lang live auf YouTube übertragen, und die einzelnen Beiträge sind seit vorgestern im Kanal des Instituto de Matemática Pura e Aplicada abrufbar – wenn ich es richtig sehe, wurden sie in der Reihenfolge des Programms eingestellt. Dort sind die Abstracts verlinkt, zu einigen Beiträgen gibt es Preprints der dazugehörigen Proceedings, die demnächst in der Zeitschrift TUGboat erscheinen werden. Hervorzuheben sind die beiden Vorträge von Frank Mittelbach über A quarter century of doc und über Compatibility in the world of LaTeX sprach. Den Preprint A rollback concept for packages and classes gibts schon länger auf der Website des LaTeX Project zu lesen. Hinzu trat in diesem Jahr die Beschäftigung mit barrierefreien PDFs, die pdfLaTeX nicht out of the box erzeugen kann. Weil sie immer öfter für digitale Veröffentlichungen nachgefragt (und teilweise aufgrund gesetzlicher Vorschriften an vielen Universitäten bzw. in vielen Ländern verlangt) werden, kommt aber auch die TeX-Gemeinde nicht mehr um sie herum. Ross Moor sprach über Authoring accessible `Tagged PDF‘ documents using LaTeX und Sandro Coriasco stellte in An automated method based on LaTeX for the realization of accessible PDF documents containing formulae das neue Paket axessibility vor – dazu heute ein Nachtrag von Anna Capietto in der Mailingliste accessibility. Joseph Wright hat in seinem Blog über die drei Tage der Tagung berichtet.

  • Am Rande der Konferenz hat Stefan Kottwitz die Eröffnung seines dritten lokalisierten TeX-Webforums bekanntgegeben. Nach der deutschen TeXwelt und der französischen TeXnique gibt es nun auch latex.net.br in brasilianischem Portugiesisch.

  • Und heute, schließlich, hat David Reitter Aquamacs 3.4 veröffentlicht. Der neue Release beruht nicht auf dem neuesten Emacs 26, sondern noch auf dem Vorgänger GNU Emacs 25.3.50. Es ist gleichwohl kein reines Update, sondern bringt auch ein paar Veränderungen unter der Haube mit. So wurde das Scrollen mit dem Touchpad besser an den Mac angepasst. Außerdem wurde die Druckausgabe deutlich verbessert. AUCTeX hat jetzt Version 12.1. Wer mehr über den Ansatz von Aquamacs erfahren möchte, möge die Übersicht der Features nachlesen. An der Konfiguration hat sich nach meinem ersten Eindruck nichts geändert; die Aquamacs-Seiten, die David Reitter im EmacsWiki pflegt, sind auch unverändert geblieben. Viel Zeit für einen Test gab es nicht: Der Release folgte dem Pretest schon nach einem Tag. Ich verwende Aquamacs schon mehrere Jahre, allerdings ohne die macOS-Anpassungen; wie man sie los wird, erklärt der Entwickler im EmacsWiki. Aquamacs läuft ab macOS 10.9. Mehr über den Hintergrund hatte ich 2015 geschrieben. Das Konkurrenzprojekt ist Emacs For Mac OS X, das keinerlei Erweiterungen und eigene Konfiguration bereitstellt, sondern nur die Emacs-Binaries für den Mac.

by schneeschmelze at Friday, 2018-07-27 20:46


TeX Stack Exchange


I like the idea of local TeX communities, and of TeX support in native language. It provides people who don’t read and write English fluently with access to TeX and LaTeX. Also, feeling ok with English, I enjoy reading TeX stuff in my German language very much. So I already set up TeXwelt.de in German, and TeXnique.fr in French.

Looking forward to the TUG meeting in Rio this year, I learned a bit of Brazilian Portuguese. I worked on some stuff to honor our hosts in Brazil. I could not attend the meeting these days, so I could not show something or discuss anything.

Anyway, I can show it here. Since the TeX StackExchange site brought a good motivation to the world wide TeX community, I set up a question and answer site in Brazilian Portuguese. Perhaps users may enjoy reading and writing that way and it could lower the barrier to get TeX support.

For a demonstration, I posted questions and answers based on the TeX FAQ. The demo site is here:


Fellow Brazilian TeX friends: take a look, browse around. How does it feel?

I added a translation of the TeX FAQ:


Is it readable? It took some time, I still work on some remaining questions and answers. It’s about 300 A4/letter pages now. You can downloaded it as a PDF file:

It’s just a demo site that I will keep online for a while, to see if people may like it. It was immediately attacked hundreds of times by spam bots, but that went down to just some per day once I maintained a domain black list.

If anybody would like to support this comunidade de TeX site, as contributor, supporter, moderator, maintainer, send an email to me: stefan@latex.org.





by stefan at Sunday, 2018-07-22 12:00

Some TeX Developments (by Joseph Wright)

TUG2018: Day three

The final day of TUG2018 followed the conference banquet, which of course meant that there were a few tired (or missing!) delegates.

Before coffee

The first talk of the day came from S. K. Venkatesan, focussing on his WeTeX tool, and the link to countability of computing problems.

We then moved to Paulo Cereda (on behalf of Susanne Raab), looking at the TikZducks package. He started by pointing out that whilst drawing ducks is fun, there is serious coding behind it. He showed us a range of examples of how keyval settings allow a wide range of (wacky) customisation of duck drawings. A particular highlight was rendering of Don Knuth as a TikZduck.

After the break

Once we’d all refuelled, Jaeyoung Choi took up the podium to describe work on using MetaFont directly inside FreeType. He laid out the advantages of MetaFont, and the problems for use by font designers. He then moved to look at the particular challenges faced in developing CJK fonts: the very large number of characters, and resulting significant time/cost investment required. With modern computing power, this can be solved using MetaFont to parametrise this large number of glyphs. Jaeyoung demonstrated a GUI which allows control of the appearance of characters in an (almost) interactive way. He then moved on to look at how to integrate MetaFont directly into the TrueType rasteriser.

The final talk came from Will Robertson on fontspec and unicode-math. He started by showing us some issues in the fonts in books for children, before looking over unicode-math. He showed how it handles complex maths, allowing re-use of copied material and changing the style of output. He then looked at the development approach he’s taken in ‘cleaning up’ unicode-math and fontspec. He covered various aspects of the expl3/l3build/Git(Hub) workflow he’s now perfected. He then moved on to fontspec, talking about the background, current interfaces and possible future developments. It was great final talk: wide-ranging, thought-provoking and fun.

With the formal business done, we headed to the roof of IMPA for the traditional conference photography. After a lunch break, it was off for most of us to the excursion to Sugarloaf Mountain, and the end of the meeting proper.

Sunday, 2018-07-22 00:00


Some TeX Developments (by Joseph Wright)

TUG2018: Day Two

The second day of TUG2018 picked up with a few announcements for those us here at IMPA, before we moved on to the business end.

Early morning session

Frank Mittelbach started the day’s proceedings, talking about his doc package for literate programming. He explained the background, what works and more importantly what didn’t. The success of doc as a standard make change challenging, but at the same time there is a need for updates. He then laid out goals for a new version: back-compatibility, new mark-up and out-of-the-box hyperref support. He showed us the features for creating new mark up. There are some wrinkles, for example that hyperref support still has to be manually activated. Frank wrapped up by pointing to the testing version, and gave us a likely release date (for TL’19).

I then gave my first talk of the day, looking at expl3 concepts related to colour and graphics. I outlined the LaTeX2e background, what is happening with the LaTeX2e drivers and then moved on to my expl3 experiments. First I talked about colo(u)r, and the idea of colour expressions as introduced by xcolor. These are trivial to work out in expl3 due to the expandable FPU we have. I then looked at creating graphics, particularly how I’ve been inspired by pgf/TikZ. I showed how I’ve used the fact that pgf has a clear structure, and mapped that to expl3 concepts. I showed some examples of the existing drawing set up, and where I’ll be going next.

After coffee

We returned after coffee for a short talk from Boris Veytsman on tackling an apparently simple issue: putting leaders level with the first line of a long title! He showed that this is a non-trivial requirement, and how as a contractor he has to explain this to his customers. He then showed how he solved the issue, leading to a lively discussion about other possible approaches.

I then came back for my second talk of the day, I talked about siunitx. I started by explaining the history of the package, starting with the initial comp.text.tex post that led to its creation. I outlined the core features, present from version 1, and why I’ve re-written now twice. I finished by promising a first alpha version of version 3: that’s available here.

Frank then returned for a morning of symmetry, talking about compatibility requirements. He talked about the historical situation, starting from Knuth’s introduction of TeX and taking us through the development of LaTeX, PDF support and Unicode engines. He then moved on to look at the LaTeX2e approach to compatibility, starting with the 1994 approach, fixltx2e. He explained how that was intended to work, and why it didn’t. The new approach, latexrelease, tackles the same problems but starts with the idea that it applies to both the kernel and to packages. Frank covered the idea of rollback in packages, and how this works at the user and developer levels. Frank finished off with some thoughts about the future, and the fact that most new users probably pick up these ideas without issue.

After lunch

Our conference Chair, Paulo Ney de Souza, took the first slot after lunch to speak about how he’s approached a major challenge, managing the abstracts for the upcoming ICM2018 meeting. His talked ranged over topics such as citation formatting, small device output, production workflows and dealing with author preambles. He covered the wide range of tools his team have assembled to automate PDF creation from a heterogeneous set of sources. His wide-ranging talk was a tour de force in automated publication.

After a brief break, we moved to Tom Hejda (who TeX-sx users know as yo’), on his tool yoin. He explained that his current workflow for producing journal issues is currently a mix of a range of tools, and this is likely not long-term sustainable. He then moved to showing how yoin can be used to compile both the master file for an issue and, as required, each article within it.

The last talk of the day was from Joachim Heinze, formerly of Springer. He talked about journal publishing, and how online accessibility of publications has changed the landscape for publishers. He gave an entertaining look into this world, posing the question ‘Where is the information we have lost in data?’.

With the formal business done, some of the group remained at IMPA for a workshop on R and Knitr, led by Boris Veytsman. Later, we all met up again for the conference dinner at Rubaiyat Rio.

Saturday, 2018-07-21 00:00


Some TeX Developments (by Joseph Wright)

TUG2018: Day one

Most of the foreign delegates for TUG2018 met up by last night at the conference hotel, and chats over breakfast continued. Then it was down to the minibus to head to the venue, IMPA.

Opening session

After a brief introduction from the conference chair, Paulo Ney de Souza, the floor was handed to Roberto Ierusalimschy to start us with a bang: an overview of Lua development. He gave us an insight into how Lua grew from early beginnings, and how it got picked up by games developers: a really big part of Lua’s importance. He then gave us an insight into the two key aspects of Lua’s success: the ability to embed and extend the language. That’s led to Lua being embedded in a range of applications, particularly games but also devices as varied as cars and routers. We had a lively question session, ranging from Unicode support to what might have been done differently.

We then moved on to Eduardo Ochs, talking about using Lua as a pre-parser to convert ‘ASCII art’ into complex mathematical diagrams. He explained the pre-history: the origin of the ASCII art as comments to help understand complex TeX code! After a summary of the original pre-processor, he showed how using Lua(TeX), the processing can be done in-line in the file with no true pre-processing step. He showed how this can be set up in an extensible and powerful way.

Morning post-coffee

After the coffee break (plus cake), we reconvened for three talks. Mico Loretan started focussing on his package selnolig. He started by showing us examples of ‘unfortunate’ ligatures in English words, and how they can appear when suppressed by babel and by selnolig. He then focussed in on the detail: what a ligature is, why they are needed and how different fonts provide them. He moved on to detail why you need to suppress ligatures, in particular where they cross morpheme boundaries. Mico then gave us a very useful summary of how the linguistics work here and how they need to link to typography. After showing us the issues with other approaches, he moved on to detail of how selnolig uses LuaTeX callbacks to influence ligatures ‘late’ in processing. His rule-based interface means that ligatures can be suppressed for whole classes of words.

I spoke next, focussing on l3build. I gave a brief overview of LaTeX testing, from the earliest days of the team to the current day. I covered why we’ve picked Lua for our current testing set-up, what works and what (currently) doesn’t.

Paulo Cereda then talked about his build tool, arara. He started with an overview of other tools, before explaining how arara is different: it’s a ‘no-guesswork’ approach. He showed us the core, simple, syntax, before moving on to a timeline of releases to date. He summed up the new features in version 4.0, before moving to a series of live demonstrations. These started with simple ideas and moved on to new, complex ideas such as conditionals and taking user input. He then finished by looking to the future, both of arara and of araras (parrots).

After lunch

We started back after lunch with a couple of slides from Barbara Beeton, sadly absent from the meeting, presented by TUG President Boris Veytsman.

Will Robertson then took the podium. He started with some non-TeX thoughts on questions he gets as an Australian. His koala pictures were particularly fun. His talk then moved to his work with the Learning Management System (LMS) used by his employer. This system (Canvas) has a programmable API for controlling information made available to students. He laid out the issues with the documentation he had: a very large, unmaintainable word processing document. Will talked about various tools for creating HTML from LaTeX, the workflow he has chosen, and then showed more detail on the system he is using, LaTeXML. He then expanded on how using LaTeXML plus scripting, he can populate the LMS in a (semi)automated way, making his work more efficient.

The second speaker in the ‘Australian panel’ session was Ross Moore. Ross started with a demo of why tagging PDFs is needed: making the information accessible not just to people but widely to the computer, to allow re-use in alternative views. He expanded on the drivers for this, in particular legal requirements for accessible documents.

After afternoon break

Our next talk came in remotely from Sandro Coriasco. He started by outlining the team involved in this work, focussed on making material accessible to the blind. The aim of their work has been targetted at mathematical formula, generating ‘actual text’ which can then be used by screen readers or similar. He then showed that this makes additional useful information available to e.g. screen readers.

We then had a non-TeX talk: Doris Behrendt on GDPR. She started by looking at the EU Official Journal on the GDPR, and we had an excursion into the font used for typesetting (Albertina). She then gave details of the regulations, along with a number of extremely amusing examples of how people have approached them.

Presentations over, the TUG AGM took place, concluding the formal business of the day.

Friday, 2018-07-20 00:00


Some TeX Developments (by Joseph Wright)

TUG2018 Preview

The TUG2018 meeting starts tomorrow in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, and the delegates have begun to collect together (many of us are staying at the Everest Rio Hotel). I’ll be trying to write up notes each day to summarise the talks, discussions, etc., but you’ll also be able to watch live. There’s also a chat room on TeX StackExchange dedicated to the meeting.

Informal discussions are already ongoing (the LaTeX team members have been hard at it since breakfast), so it should be a productive time.

Thursday, 2018-07-19 00:00



TUG 2018 to be broadcast

The TUG 2018 conference in Rio de Janeiro is planned to be broadcast on youtube. The conference starts Friday morning, Rio time. The conference program is available (and linked from the youtube page). All thanks go to the host venue, IMPA, and the principal organizer, Paulo Ney de Souza, for making this possible. Happy viewing!

Tuesday, 2018-07-17 22:41



LaTeX Project

Publications now viewable by topic

Publications now sorted by topic

In the past we collected publications by the project team members on a single web page (with a few extra notes added to introduce the publication). Over time that page got really more and more lengthly and and thus unusable.

Since we believe that a lot of the information there is actually quite useful we have restructured this area to provide a view of all publications in chronological order as well as by major topics. Of course, chosing useful topics is hard and we may still have to improve things here and there. For example, we know that we should add further notes in some places.

But on the whole, this new view gives much better access to the material available and brings a number of hidden gems (or so we think :-) ) back into focus. So far each publication is sorted only under a single topic. However, in some cases multiple topics might be more approriate—we’ll have to see.

Please try it out, the starting points are either

If you have any comments or suggestions please feel free to send me a note.

Enjoy — Frank

Thursday, 2018-06-28 00:00


Beautiful Type

Nice sign found by @occupantfonts on a truck. I wonder if it...

Nice sign found by @occupantfonts on a truck. I wonder if it could be Ed Interlock from @houseindustries 🤔 https://ift.tt/2txW4vY

Wednesday, 2018-06-27 07:27


Uwes kleines Technikblog - Kategorie LaTeX (by Uwe Ziegenhagen)

Ordner beschriften mit LaTeX

Hier ein Beispiel, wie man mit LaTeX einfach Ordnerrücken beschriften kann. Es nutzt das Paket ticket.sty, das ich auch schon für Wahlkarten im Verein oder Namensschilder genutzt habe.


  • Beim ersten Kompilieren gibt es eine Fehlermeldung, da die Datei Ordner.tdf noch geschrieben werden muss.
  • Nach Anpassungen innerhalb von filecontents* muss zweimal übersetzt werden. Das erste Übersetzen schreibt die TDF Datei, das zweite Übersetzen nutzt dann diese Datei.
  • Als Schriftart nutze ich die IBM Plex Sans, die in TeX Live 2018 standardmäßig dabei ist,
    in TeX Live 2017 nicht. Die Datei wird aber auch so übersetzt, nutzt dann aber die Palatino.


\ticketSize{190}{58} % Breite und Höhe der Labels in mm
\ticketDistance{0}{0} % Abstand der Labels
\@boxedtrue % Rahmen um Ticket
\@emptycrossmarkfalse % Falzmarken
\@cutmarktrue % Schnittmarken
\put(15,15){\scalebox{7}{\bfseries #1}}

Beispiel Ordnerrücken


Uwe Ziegenhagen mag LaTeX und Python, auch gern in Kombination. Hat Dir dieser Beitrag geholfen und möchtest Du Dich dafür bedanken? Dann unterstütze doch vielleicht die Dingfabrik Köln e.V. mit einem kleinen Beitrag. Details zur Bezahlung findest Du unter Spenden für die Dingfabrik.

More Posts - Website

by Uwe at Saturday, 2018-06-23 15:58



TeX & Friends (by Jürgen Fenn)

Englische TeX-FAQ neu aufgesetzt

Die große Zeit der FAQs ist eigentlich vorbei. Ihr Ursprung lag in den Mailinglisten und im Usenet, wo die Regulars es leid waren, immer wieder dieselben Fragen zu beantworten. Deshalb stellten sie Listen zusammen von häufig gestellten Fragen und häufig daraufhin gegebenen Antworten. Sie werden noch heute bei faqs.org gesammelt, aber man sieht, das letzte Update liegt schon eine Weile zurück.

Die deutsche TeX-FAQ Fragen und Antworten (FAQ) über das Textsatzsystem TeX und DANTE, Deutschsprachige Anwendervereinigung TeX e.V. von Bernd Raichle, Rolf Niepraschk und Thomas Hafner wurde bis 2003 in elf Teilen in de.comp.text.tex gepostet, meistens sonntags, und das war aufgrund der langen Haltezeiten auf den Newsservern ein zentraler Informationskanal. Daneben gab es Fassungen als PDF auf CTAN und in HTML für das Web.

Mit dem Aufkommen der Wikis in der ersten Hälfte der 2000er-Jahre ließ das Interesse an den FAQs nach. Gleichzeitig sank die Bedeutung des Usenets. Die Blogs und die Webforen traten an seine Stelle, später auch die Sozialen Netzwerke. Außerdem wurde nun gegoogelt; das Suchen ersetzte die Diskussion. Seit Ende der 2000er-Jahre gab es wieder einen regelmäßigen Pointer in de.comp.text.tex, der aber keine Inhalte mehr bereitstellte, sondern, wie der Name schon sagt, nur auf Ressourcen im Web verweist. Die Einführung in dctt wurde wohl bis Dezember 2015 gepostet.

Nach einem Intermezzo im Vereinswiki von DANTE kam es zum vollständigen kollaborativen Neuschrieb der deutschen FAQ auf texfragen.de, begonnen von Patrick Gundlach und seit 2017/2018 fortgeführt von Stefan Kottwitz. Ein PDF-Export aus dem Dokuwiki steht auf CTAN bereit, derzeit allerdings auf dem Stand von 2013. Das Wiki ist also aktueller als der auf CTAN verfügbare Export.

Daneben gab und gibt es die umfangreiche und – ich glaube, man kann es mit Recht so sagen – bis heute nicht erreichte UK TeX FAQ, in der Robin Fairbairns zuletzt 469 Fragen und Antworten nicht nur gesammelt, sondern auch in eine sehr lesbare Form gebracht hatte. Aus Robins FAQ hatte auch ich über die Jahre immer wieder einiges gelernt. Leider stammt die letzte Fassung in der Version 3.28 aus dem Sommer 2014, was in der heutigen Zeit auch in der TeX-Welt schon ein ziemlich langer Moment ist. Robin Fairbairns hat zudem, seit er den Ruhestand angetreten hatte, seine Mitarbeit im CTAN-Team und seine Beiträge für die FAQ eingstellt.

Zum vierten Jahrestag der Veröffentlichung der letzten Fassung haben nun David Carlisle, Stefan Kottwitz, Karl Berry und Joseph Wright bekanntgegegen, dass sie die englische FAQ weiter pflegen möchten – die Liste der bisherigen Beiträger aus früheren Tagen ist freilich etwas länger. Um die Textsammlung weiter bearbeiten zu können, wurden die Quellen nach Markdown konvertiert und in ein Repository auf GitHub übetragen. Mittels GitHub Pages kann die FAQ von dort aus unmittelbar und ohne einen weiteren Zwischenschritt gehostet und unmittelbar als Website gelesen werden. Die kanonische URL ist von nun an texfaq.github.io bzw. texfaq.org. Und auch der Name wurde leicht geändert: Aus UK TeX FAQ wurde The TeX Frequently Asked Question List.

Und obwohl, wie eingangs erwähnt, die FAQs durch die Webforen und die Suchmaschinen, die heutzutage fast alle Fragen direkt und schnell beantworten, etwas an den Rand gedrängt worden sind, ist dies alles ganz sicherlich eine gute Nachricht, denn eine freie und aktuelle Referenz zu TeX & Friends ist weiterhin sehr wünschenswert und auch notwendig. Ein längerer Text, der Grundlagen erklärt, Zusammenhänge herstellt und der auch gut lesbar ist.

Kritisch angemerkt sei die Frage, ob man für das Hosting tatsächlich auf die Infrastruktur eines kommerziellen Dienstes zurückgreifen sollte oder ob es nicht doch vorzugswürdig wäre, die Web-Version auf einem eigenen Hosting zu betreiben? Oder gleich auf CTAN? Es sollte heute eigentlich kein Problem mehr sein, zumindest tägliche Snapshots aus einem Repositorium auf CTAN für das Web zu spiegeln.

Update 13. Juni 2018: Ich vergaß ja ganz, dass es auch etwas wirklich Neues in Bezug auf die englische FAQ anzumerken gibt: Sie wurde nunmehr unter eine CC-0-Lizenz gestellt.

by schneeschmelze at Monday, 2018-06-11 22:53



TeX & Friends (by Jürgen Fenn)

LaTeX lebt

Dear TeXers,

Summer with its conferences is upon us. I am writing this text after a full day at the Joint Conference on Digital Libraries at Fort Worth, TX. As befits JCDL, at registration we were given the proceedings volume in digital form. By the way, I’ve run pdfinfo on the files and found out that of 102 papers presented there, 68 were typeset in TeX. I think the rumors of the imminent demise of TeX in the academic world are somewhat exaggerated. […]

Boris Veytsman, TeX Announce Mailing List, 7. Juni 2018.

by schneeschmelze at Friday, 2018-06-08 20:28


Some TeX Developments (by Joseph Wright)

The TeX Frequently Asked Question List: New hosting

The TeX Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) List has been a fixture of the TeX world for many years. It started out as a regular column in the (now dormant) UK-TUG journal Baskerville, before being taken up as an essentially one-person project by Robin Fairbairns.

Since Robin’s retirement, the FAQ have remained available online but essentially maintenance has been ‘in hibernation’. That’s largely because the structure of the sources was tricky: they were designed to be typeset and to give HTML output following scripted conversion. For the ‘new’ team (currently David Carlisle, Stefan Kottwitz, Karl Berry and me) looking after the material, that’s been tricky as we are not editing the sources directly on the server (Robin’s old set up).

To keep the FAQ up-to-date and easy-to-maintain, the sources have been converted to Markdown to allow them to be used in a GitHub Pages set up. The traditional http://www.tex.ac.uk website now redirects to texfaq.org, which will be the canonical site address. You can also go ‘directly’ to the GitHub Pages site, texfaq.github.io. (There are a few final adjustments to make, so at the moment you might get redirected from texfaq.org to texfaq.github.io.)

The aim remains to have a curated set of FAQ, not growing too big and staying authoritative. Of course, the core team appreciate help making that the case: you can access the material on GitHub to log issues or make suggestions for change.

Sunday, 2018-06-03 00:00


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Tuesday, 2018-05-29 16:27