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Re: Configuration file shadowed?

Manoj Srivastava <srivasta@debian.org> wrote:

>         The later is not so clear to me -- the distinction is blurred
>  a bit, but I tend to agree than not.  How does one feel about a LaTeX
>  package that sets up a default output style, and the user prefers a
>  different one? If there is a way to tailor the typeset output by
>  editing the input document itself (for instance, including or not
>  including TeX packages, or by supplying options to the packages, or
>  setting variables, or the like), then one need not have the package
>  in question in /etc.

It is nearly always possible to tailor the output by editing the
document itself.  The only exception is when you choose a documentclass
that preloads some styles that you do not want - you can't remove them.
But this cannot be solved with a configuration file, either - you just
have chosen the wrong class.

Wich every package I know that reads a "configuration" file you can
achieve the same effect with commands in the input document.  The reason
to have a configuration file is rather to save some common commands for
a common type of documents.  Personally, I rather solve this by creating
a separate input file that contains these common commands and loading it
from each document, but in some cases you can instead have a "foo.cfg"
with common commands for package foo.sty.

>         Arguably, if the only way to change a default output style is
>  to hack the source package, one can say that the package is very
>  rigid; and the solution may be to fix the package by making it more
>  flexible, rather than moving it into /etc.  Does that make sense?

Indeed - especially since you won't be happy for long with a hacked
package, because you loose any portability.  I do not think that any
complete or one-file LaTeX package should be in /etc, ever.  If it
doesn't fit your needs, don't use it, or copy the relevant bits and
write your own (in LaTeX, the borderline between writing a document and
developing code, as well as between users and developers is quite
blurred).  Having a file in /etc only makes sense if a multi-file
package has one component that is intended for configuration; and even
then only if site-wide configuration does make any sense.  

Regards, Frank
Frank Küster
Single Molecule Spectroscopy, Protein Folding @ Inst. f. Biochemie, Univ. Zürich
Debian Developer (teTeX/TeXLive)

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