ConTeXt 2015 meeting in Nasbinal, France

("Think tank" pictures here)

Greetings from room #3 at the Equestrian center in Nasbinals, where the ConTeXt group is having their annual meeting.
The little espresso factory in room #3
Somehow I forgot to bring the power cable for the PID but the pressostat of the La Pavoni is fine as well so nothing prevents me from making an espresso for myself or any friend passing by.

On Monday, not everyone has arrived yet and those who have are working together. Many of us live in very different parts of the world so it was a welcome change to communicate directly and sit at the same screens for a change. It boosts development in the different projects under way.

Tuesday, Taco gave a presentation of the alphabet and writing, starting with ancient native American "comic book" symbolic style storytelling that included advanced date and time table information, communication about weather circumstances and wartime history. On through Aztec signs and numerous other types of deciphered writings on ancient tablets all the way to our current alphabet. Some attendees like Arthur know a lot about this at well and Arthur could further enhance the presentation by reading some of the old signs aloud and providing details about the era and the signs that at times were borrowed from very different languages of the same time in adjoining regions. Variations of the I and the V have been traveling across language barriers like this, spicing up the written page.

During lunch, Hans explained to me how "ownership" necessitated the existence of written words and figures and how bartering work and goods needed to be written down, especially when a service would only be returned at a later date and the concept of "credit" was born.

When Willi told about his current progress in building violins and writing a book about all the details of violin building, the lunch table discussion moved to the craft of tuning instruments. It can be challenging, for instance, if a church organ player visits a church for a concert and the historic organ there is tuned in a slightly different historical way that's believed to be the original tuning in the sixteenth century. Sometimes the player then needs to transpose all the sheet music inside his head as he goes along or else the music will sound all wrong. And it can be hard to anticipate the tuning of a large organ with up to four thousand pipes if the anticipated upturn of audience (and in consequence the expected warming up of the building and the instrument) is different than assumed beforehand.

In the afternoon, Hans presented the current developments in ConTeXt. Spacing and margins are refined and right-to-left typesetting is much improved. Hans also explained ways to ensure that the fonts you use in a work in progress remain stable, using references to the font files rather than font names. Producing excellent PDF is easy now, but PDF Validators used by publishers are sometimes buggy, converting the PDF to a messed up file. This has to be checked early or a large stack of printed material has to be dumped and done again. Also, some staff at printers are so used to traditionally converting PostScript to PDF, they even re-convert incoming PDF to PS before entering into that same PS to PDF work flow, which also frequently yields very surprising results in complicated boks with advanced math and graphs.

Arthur gave a talk about his wishlist for hyphenation. To start off, he briefly went over the basics. In English, "hyphenation" is mostly used for adding hyphens to words (like married women using their own surname and their husband's with a hyphen in between) whereas what we usually call hyphenation is named "word division". Then, Arthur explained the basic ways of notation and the algorithm of hyphenation patterns, hyphenation exceptions and discretionary hyphenation. Examples in English, Slovenian also highlighting the changes in hyphenation in words before and after the recent extensive "modernization" of the German language. One of the wished features is weighted hyphenation, with the pattern including preferred and "second choice" hyphenation locations for a huge list of words.

Under the header of "Mixing TeX and XML", Harald discussed a number of different methods to design and typeset a photo book. Today there are many online services. Some use XML to define the book, others produce a PDF. Most 'remember' the book for a certain period to make extra print copies easy to order but there's no telling what will happen to your images if these firms merge or disappear. Of course, it would be more pleasant and powerful to prepare the book using ConTeXt. Harald demonstrated the XML code of a book with 1088 pictures.

Hans then showed some new features in ConTeXt that make it easier to create a photo book in ConTeXt. Getting images properly aligned in an automatic work flow is more convenient now. Aligning pictures on a page that also has text can be tricky if you don't want one picture aligning with a baseline of text and another sticking out over the top of a line. It's fast too: Hans demonstrated how 500 pages with pictures are compiled in 3 seconds.

Harald König & Arthur Reuthenauer
Tomás Hála
Alan Braslau & Harald König
Willi Egger & Harald König
Giuanna Egger, Arthur Reutenauer, Tomás Hála
Tomás Hála, Harald König, Arthur Reutenauer
Arthur Reutenauer, Sytze Knypstra, Willi Egger

Hans Hagen
Sytze Knypstra

Alan Braslau, Taco Hoekwater
In the foreground: Jean-Michel Hufflen and Tomás Hála
Mojca Miklavec and Willi Egger
One of the greatest advantages of conferencing in France: "Du Pain" is available every hour of the day. Just sneak out to the back of the room and cut yourself a piece as quietly as you can. Often there's even a choice of "Du Fromage" next to it. 
Jano Kula and Arthur Reutenauer
Mari Voipio
Room #3 with lights out

Bridge nearby, built for tourists to look at, by Eiffel


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