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# What is TopTeX

TopTeX is a friendly community for TeX questions and answers. It is part of topanswers.xyz, an open source platform, that is developed with the community in mind and not for-profit.

# TopTeX's scope

The TopTeX community is all about the TeX typesetting engines and their friends.

In one sentence, we consider anything on topic that is included in a TeX installation (like TeX Live, MikTeX, etc.), plus editors dedicated to editing files of any TeX format.

Furthermore questions about how to configure an extensible editor for (La)TeX or about a plugin for such an editor which is TeX related are considered on topic (an example question would be "How to configure editor XY to compile LaTeX files?").

To give you a few ideas, we consider on topic (non-exhaustive):

- TeX, the program
- TeX, the language
- TeX formats, such as plain TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, ...
- packages such as Ti*k*Z, pgfplots, asymptote, metapost, pstricks, ...
- tools to organize references, glossaries and indices such as BibTeX, biblatex, makeindex...
- tools to automate (La)TeX, such as arara, latexmk, ...
- TeX distributions and their management
- ...

If you're in doubt just ask in our [main chat](https://topanswers.xyz/tex) whether something is considered on topic. We're glad about any benevolent contributor and you'll get a friendly and timely reply!

# TopTeX's not-scope

There are a few software solutions out there which were inspired by (La)TeX, but don't use TeX, those are not considered on topic here. This category includes tools such as:

- MathJax
- KaTeX
- Patoline
- SILE

Questions about extensible editors which don't directly deal with TeX are *not* considered on topic. An example for such a question would be "How to install plugins for editor XY?".

For explicit bug reports and feature requests, please follow the communication channels indicated in the documentation and user manuals of the individual packages or programs. This will ensure that your request will reach the author or maintainer.
Thanks for the ping, but not really my shout. ;) In any event, I reckon that message was overdue for removal. Nice to see this moving forward!
samcarter
updated :)
Oh, got it. I agree with @Skillmon.
Sorry, what is the place-holder message?
Pro.
samcarter
@David @marmot @Skillmon Are we ready to drop the place-holder-notice?
oh, I never used the LaTeX packages of asymptote, I only knew the standalone program (of which I knew that you can format labels etc. with TeX), which I'd have considered on-topic either way. There are a few LaTeX packages which have dependencies that don't ship with TeX Live (think minted). The LaTeX site of those should always be on topic.
asymptote is also a package (which essentially allows you to embed snippets that get compiled with the program asymptote), similarly there are metapost *packages* such as feynmp that use the metapost "program". The crucial point is that both of them support LaTeX, you can use LaTeX code in asymptote and metapost pictures. That is, these are really packages which however rely on additional code that ships with the standard TeX installation. (tkz-fct relies on gnuplot, which does not come with TeX installations, but I would still call it a LaTeX package.)
samcarter
:)
Monochrome is as [close](https://chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/29985484#29985484) as I get; I won't be going gray-scale. ;)
Skillmon
And I love the periods item, that one I certainly forgot.
Skillmon
Also, now we only have graphical content in the "packages" category. I like the idea to split out the reference organizing things (though they are hard to sort into the appropriate categories, like my biblatex point above), but I think we should maintain a mixture of topics in the packages list.
Skillmon
@marmot Asymptote and MetaPost are not packages but tools/standalone programs, iirc. Also, biblatex is a package, the sorting tool is biber. All this was a reason for me to not split the packages and the tools closely related to the packages. Please correct me where I'm wrong here.
I actually do not expect him to show up here, but it would be great if he did.
If I understood the system here correctly, multiple user of the same name would not be a  problem (unless you'd also convert your image into gray scales, then you might not confuse the system, but the users :) )
I'm prepared for picture mode:


\documentclass{standalone}
\usepackage{tikzducks}

\begin{document}

\begin{picture}(42,44)
\picduck
\end{picture}

\end{document}

If David Carlisle shows up ... I'll have to run and hide! The reason I ended up having such a weird user name on SE was because when I loitered (like this!) in the TeX chatroom, his pings could go astray. But it would be a delight to welcome him here!
In case David Carlisle joins, we will probably have to add picture mode.
Nice edit!
I hope you do not mind my edit. I put them in a separate category, along with makeindex.
Yes, you are right. I was hoping to summarise such programs as "related tools" to avoid having to split biblatex and biber. But if you think this is confusing I'm not opposed to move them to their own category.
I always thought that bibtex is not a package but also a program that one can call. In this sense it is different from the packages, and perhaps similar to arara but maybe these TeX-related tools like bibtex form their own category.
agreed.
Also the text that we draft now won't be set in stone for eternity. If we see that there is often confusion about whether or not something is non-topic we can still explicitly mention it in the text later.
IMO (which does't count for much, truth be told!), only if it serves the purpose of TopTeX "scope"; building up the wider community would be "icing" rather than "cake", I think. The perl example just seemed opportune.
That makes good sense. Perhaps my mention was a bit of a red herring (do ducks like herring??), as I've played with it some and quite like certain features for document creation. But no need to cater for something so niche in the "About", especially when the case is sensibly covered by the other statements.
Should we add a sentence to the not-scope section that one could check with our sister sites which cover some related technologies?
I wouldn't explicitly mention lyx because then we probably should also mention other editors and the list would get long if everyone wants to see his/her favourite editor there...
I would vote for leaving the loopholes. If we wanted to close all possible holes, we probably end up with some lawyer-speak text nobody wants to read
I tried to add a short summery
 FWIW, if there are obvious ones like that where you could send a potential user to another community in the TA family, that might be worth cross-referencing — I'm thinking perl to \*nix.... Maybe?
Skillmon
Also, we currently have a loophole in our "anything on topic that is included" statement. perl is included in TeXLive, iirc, but is certainly not on topic. And there are most likely other tools included which are not on-topic, strictly speaking. Should we leave this loophole for now?
Skillmon
Currently we have a pretty elaborate (but most likely improvable) on/off topic section. What we're still missing is a *friendly* "What is TopTeX" section.
falls within the "editors dedicated" scope, imho. Do you think we have to be more clear about it? If so, are there others we have to consider besides LyX?
I only edited that in after your comment, don't worry.
Looks good!
Yes, exactly like that! Sorry, I did not see your edit while writing my comment. Maybe I should reload the page more often :)
like my last edit (2020-02-17 13:13:07)?
I like that summarising approach and applied this (also to the formats). Feel free to revert fully or partly if you're not agreeing (also @marmot)
@Skillmon @marmot How about summarising this as one bullet point "Packages and related tools like TikZ, pstricks, BibTeX, biblatex, ..." (I like the idea to include the names of a couple of very popular packages, this might help if people use a search engine to look for a site where they can ask about their problem with package xyz)
I would consider lyx on-topic
How about: "In addition, questions about editors are considered on-topic if they are closely related to TeX and friends. For example "How to configure editor emacs to compile TeX files" is within the scope of this site, but "How to exit vi" would be off-topic" (I'm unsure if using existing names is a good idea?)
Skillmon
@samcarter btw, how would you include stuff like VIM + plugins, or Emacs and its org mode in the scope? Maybe something like "plus editors or editor-plugins dedicated to editing files of any TeX format"?
Thanks, I wasn't quite happy with my wording, but was in a hurry so left it as is. Your retouch is greatly appreciated.
Skillmon
Maybe we should clarify that in addition to editors which are only built for (La)TeX (TeXshop, TeXstudio, etc.), also questions about flexible editors which can be used, such as Emacs or VIM (with plugins like vimtex, vimlatex-suite, etc.; don't know the Emacs world and their names) are on-topic (though specific questions about them should be asked on more specialised communities).
samcarter
@Skillmon Thanks a lot for starting this post! I tried to make some minor changes to de-emphasis texlive a bit.
Very crucial, I'm not willing to give support on notepad.exe, just because some mad lads use it to edit their LaTeX files.
Skillmon
I've added my one sentence scope. Again, everyone feel free to edit this if you're not satisfied or see room for improvement!
Skillmon
Another thing that's border line on/off-topic is things like Python's matplotlib with the PGF/LaTeX backend. I've answered some questions on TeX.SE about this, but some of those I'd consider off-topic here (and already considered them off-topic there).
"...plus editors **dedicated** to..." Crucial qualification! :sweat_smile:
well, iirc, LyX transpiles to TeX code, and we can give help on that TeX code, also one could argue that LyX is an editor of some sorts to edit files of a TeX format, so that would qualify for my simple put scope in the comment above.
Skillmon
We could ease our scope by saying: Everything that comes with a complete TeXLive installation plus editors dedicated to editing files of any TeX format.
I expected it was "edge case", but just boundary-checking. As you might have guessed, I'm a "dabbler" at best! Actually, calling me a "dabbler" is an insult to dabblers.
I'd say in, but can't provide any help with it, and I think most of the current users can't as well.
TeX the engine, plain TeX the format (which is more than just TeX the engine and primitives). PGF is a graphical language which happens to be only implemented in TeX, and Ti*k*Z is a macro package for PGF. pstricks is really just a package, but if I include Ti*k*Z in the list... Of course you can change this if you feel it is not well worded. I just wanted to get us started.
marmot
What is the difference between "TeX" and "plain TeX"? Also, Ti*k*Z and PSTricks are packages. Should they be at the same level as the other items?
David
And LyX? in or out? :thinking: I guess "in", since it requires TeX, would that be correct?
Skillmon
I've added a not-so-friendly and not-so-well-composed draft for the on-topic and off-topic categories. Everyone feel free to enhance my poor wording!
that's the bare necessities. I think linking to the MWE post should be done, too. Also perhaps a "What is a good question" section or link (not sure about that one).
samcarter
Do we also want to link to useful resources, e.g. what is a MWE?
samcarter
- What is TopTeX
- on and off-topic
samcarter
@all Which topics do we need to cover in the about page?