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[Axiom-developer] Re: Axiom Book

From: C Y
Subject: [Axiom-developer] Re: Axiom Book
Date: Sat, 19 Jun 2004 09:51:27 -0700 (PDT)

--- root <address@hidden> wrote:

> The book.pamphlet file needs very little from the system in order
> to build. This was part of the plan as you should be able to use
> the book without having the system around. 

It might be useful from a user standpoint to have a "make book" option
where they can just type that in the top level directory and have the
build logic for the book kick in.  A minor point but it does make
things a little more user friendly. 

I hate to ask this because I'm quite sure it's a stupid question, but
how does the book.pamphlet file differ from regular latex?  If I were
organizing it my instinct would be to break it down into individual
latex files for each chapter, to make things more managable, but I'm
assuming there's a reason for everything being in one file due to the
pamphlet superstructure.

> If they were done in a way that didn't break the display of the
> book under such tools as xdvi then I'd be happy to include any
> hyperlinks you develop. Send me the changes and I'll try to 
> incorporate them.

There are ways, at least in regular latex, to conditionalize things
like  \usepackage statements.  If that can function in the pamphlet
environment than unless a pdf is being created latex won't even mess
with the other stuff.  I'll see if I can take a stab at it.

> I'm a little concerned about pdf files, mostly because I haven't had
> much luck getting the book properly formatted. My pdfs are fuzzy and
> lack graphics.  Perhaps you will have more luck. I tend to stop at
> the ..dvi file.

Fuzzy?  Do you mean poor fonts?  As far as graphics go...  there are
some things that can be done, but for the maxima book we have two
copies of all graphics - ps and png I believe are the formats we use. 
(Which reminds me - I need to check if a pdf graphic option would be
better.)  Did you want to have only one version of a graphic that is
handled at runtime?

> David Mentre has done a pdf version.

Oh, he might have done most of this already then :-).  Archive time.

> I still have to return to working on the book as the graphics are
> missing, the chapters need changes, and the appendix is broken. 

Ah yes, graphics.  That reminds me - what are Axiom's eventual plans
for graph output?  Does Axiom have its own internal code, or will it
need to use something like gnuplot?  I think this was discussed a long
time back on the list but I was curious if any decisions have been

> Just
> this week, while working on the second book, I figured out how to use
> pstricks, which was suggested to me much earlier but I haven't gotten
> to it until now.

Second book?  There's another one?  (/me turns green with envy.)

> I'd love for O'Reilly or Baen or Dover to publish it but that's
> yet another hill to climb. I've tried to publish two textbooks
> before and it's a lot more effort than it would seem. There is
> no such thing as a simple job.

A textbook is a little different though, isn't it?  The Axiom book has
the potential to sell to anyone wanting to use it for research or
teaching (or some crazy hobbiest ;-)  but a textbook goes nowhere
unless people actually use it for a course.  Where there are a lot of
books for most courses (lower level ones anyway) there aren't very many
competitors in the Axiom documentation department.  Not that that
necessarily means the total sales would be greater, of course, but
perhaps reason to hope.
> However, anyone on the list is free and welcome to try to publish
> it. The book text is covered by the modified BSD license that NAG
> used to release the sources. The additional words I've written are
> also under the same license. So anyone with a touch of ambition is
> free to take it, put their name on the cover, and publish it. I'd
> even be willing to help but I can't take the lead in the effort.
> I've got way too many things that are "top of stack" right now.

Know what that's like.  Probably the time to look into that sort of
thing will be more when Axiom is reaching a "polished, 1.0" status
where we can package it and market it to non-developers.  The curse of
books/releases is they take on a life of their own - people get used to
that particular release and are disinclined to change.  Of course, this
is less of a problem when the updates don't cost $300+ :-).

If such an event does come to pass, and does make some money, is there
some mechanism where the publisher/person(s) who made it happen could
funnel some part of the profits back to the Axiom development effort? 
If open Axiom ever does somehow produce funding or revenue, I don't
think anyone would doubt that a lot of it should be sent Tim Daly's


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