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[Axiom-developer] Re: Axiom Book

From: root
Subject: [Axiom-developer] Re: Axiom Book
Date: Sat, 19 Jun 2004 14:36:37 -0400

> 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. 

This I can do.

> 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.

It was previously in dozens of files. I could break it up but why?
The individual chapters would still need the tex superstructure.
I could use David's booklet program (my original thought and still
a long term plan) but that would require noweb.

> 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.

Ok. Let me know what you come up with.

> 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?

The graphics files are .ps format since the Axiom graphics program can
output them directly. If we mod the graphics program to output other
formats then that might be of interest but not currently.

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

The pdf version of the book is available from David's site.
I don't have the URL handy but it's in the archives.
Or send him a note. He's very helpful.

> 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
> reached.

The graphics code compiles now and I'm working on viewAlone which is a
program to test the graphics in stand-alone mode. Once that works I need
to get viewman running and then the socket connection running. The 
graphics code talks to axiom thru sockets. (It all takes time, massive
amounts of time, unfortunately).

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

Yes, there is another one in the pipe. The initial motivation comes
from Littlewood's book "The skeleton key of mathematics". I'm buried
in the writing at the moment. The first draft will be posted in a
while and I'll let the list know so they can critique/modify/add to it.
This one is harder because I'm trying to attack the math following
Axiom's categorical structure and there is an astonishing amount I
don't know about either math or Axiom's categorical structure. All
of which will be evident when the book emerges and the real experts
weigh in. :-)

> 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.

I wrote 120 pages of one textbook and 90 pages of another. (Figure that
each page is 500 words and takes about 1 day to write (remember that 
you occasionally have to delete stuff)). I had contract negotiations
with two different publishers and even had an editor assigned to my
effort. Textbooks that sell more than 3000 copies are considered a
best seller. It rarely happens so I'm told.

> 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
> way.

There isn't a whole lot of money to be made. By the time the publisher,
the bookstore, the girlfriend, etc take their cut you'd be happy to buy
coffee. But you'd have a book with your name on the cover and that's
worth something.


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