auctex / TODO

Future Development of AUCTeX

   The following sections describe future development of AUCTeX.
Besides mid-term goals, bug reports and requests we cannot fix or honor
right away are being gathered here.  If you have some time for Emacs
Lisp hacking, you are encouraged to try to provide a solution to one of
the following problems.  If you don't know Lisp, you may help us to
improve the documentation.  It might be a good idea to discuss proposed
changes on the mailing list of AUCTeX first.

1 Mid-term Goals

   * Integration of preview-latex into AUCTeX

     As of AUCTeX 11.81 preview-latex is a part of AUCTeX in the sense
     that the installation routines were merged and preview-latex is
     being packaged with AUCTeX.

     Further integration will happen at the backend.  This involves
     folding of error parsing and task management of both packages
     which will ease development efforts and avoid redundant work.

   * More flexible option and command handling

     The current state of command handling with `TeX-command-list' is
     not very flexible because there is no distinction between
     executables and command line options to be passed to them.

     Customization of `TeX-command-list' by the user will interfere with
     updates of AUCTeX.

   * Error help catalogs

     Currently, the help for errors is more or less hardwired into
     `tex.el'.  For supporting error help in other languages, it would
     be sensible to instead arrange error messages in language-specific
     files, make a common info file from all such catalogs in a given
     language and look the error texts up in an appropriate index.  The
     user would then specify a preference list of languages, and the
     errors would be looked up in the catalogs in sequence until they
     were identified.

   * Combining `docTeX' with RefTeX

     Macro cross references should also be usable for document
     navigation using RefTeX.

2 Wishlist

   * Documentation lookup for macros

     A parser could gather information about which macros are defined in
     which LaTeX packages and store the information in a hashtable which
     can be used in a backend for `TeX-doc' in order to open the
     matching documentation for a given macro.  The information could
     also be used to insert an appropriate `\usepackage' statement if
     the user tries to insert a macro for which the respective package
     has not been requested yet.

   * Spell checking of macros

     A special ispell dictionary for macros could be nice to have.

   * Quick error overviews

     An error overview window (extract from the log file with just the
     error lines, clickable like a "grep" buffer) and/or fringe
     indicators for errors in the main text would be nice.

   * A math entry grid

     A separate frame with a table of math character graphics to click
     on in order to insert the respective sequence into the buffer (cf.
     the "grid" of x-symbol).

   * Crossreferencing support

     It would be nice if you could index process your favorite
     collection of `.dtx' files (such as the LaTeX source), just call a
     command on arbitrary control sequence, and get either the DVI
     viewer opened right at the definition of that macro (using Source
     Specials), or the source code of the `.dtx' file.

   * Better plain TeX support

     For starters, `LaTeX-math-mode' is not very LaTeX-specific in the
     first place, and similar holds for indentation and formatting.

   * Poor man's Source Specials In particular in PDF mode (and where
     Source Specials cause problems), alternatives would be desirable.
     One could implement inverse search by something like Heiko
     Oberdiek's `vpe.sty', and forward search by using the `.aux' file
     info to correlate labels in the text (possibly in cooperation with
     RefTeX) with previewer pages.

     In AUCTeX 11.83, support for forward search with PDF files was
     added.  Currently this only works if you use the pdfsync LaTeX
     package and xpdf as your PDF viewer.

   * Page count when compiling should (optionally) go to modeline of the
     window where the compilation command was invoked, instead of the
     output window.  Suggested by Karsten Tinnefeld

   * Command to insert a macrodefinition in the preamble, without moving
     point from the current location.  Suggested by "Jeffrey C. Ely"

   * A database of all commands defined in all stylefiles.  When a
     command or environment gets entered that is provided in one of the
     styles, insert the appropriate `\usepackage' in the preamble.

   * A way to add and overwrite math mode entries in style files, and to
     decide where they should be.  Suggested by Remo Badii

   * Create template for (first) line of tabular environment.

   * I think prompting for the master is the intended behaviour.  It
     corresponds to a `shared' value for TeX-master.

     There should probably be a `none' value which wouldn't query for
     the master, but instead disable all features that relies on

     This default value for TeX-master could then be controled with
     mapping based on the extension.

   * Multiple argument completion for `\bibliography'.  In general, I
     ought to make `,' special for these kind of completions.

   * Suggest `makindex' when appropriate.

   * Use index files (when available) to speed up `C-c C-m include

   * Option not to calculate very slow completions like for `C-c C-m
     include <RET>'.

   * Font menu should be created from `TeX-font-list'.

   * Installation procedure written purely in emacs lisp.

   * Included PostScript files should also be counted as part of the

   * The parser should catch warnings about undefined crossreferences.
     Suggested by Richard Hirsch `'.

   * A nice hierarchical by-topic organization of all officially
     documented LaTeX macros, available from the menu bar.

   * `TeX-command-default' should be set from the master file, if not
     set locally.  Suggested by Peter Whaite `<>'.

   * Make AUCTeX work with `crypt++'.  Suggested by Chris Moore

   * Make AUCTeX work with `longlines'.  This would also apply to
     preview-latex, though it might make sense to unify error processing
     before attempting this.

   * The `Spell' command should apply to all files in a document.  Maybe
     it could try to restrict to files that have been modified since
     last spell check?  Suggested by Ravinder Bhumbla

   * Make <.> check for abbreviations and sentences ending with capital

   * Use Emacs 19 minibuffer history to choose between previewers, and
     other stuff.  Suggested by John Interrante

   * Make features.

     A new command `TeX-update' (`C-c C-u') could be used to create an
     up-to-date dvi file by repeatedly running BibTeX, MakeIndex and
     (La)TeX, until an error occurs or we are done.

     An alternative is to have an `Update' command that ensures the
     `dvi' file is up to date.  This could be called before printing and

   * Documentation of variables that can be set in a style hook.

     We need a list of what can safely be done in an ordinary style
     hook.  You can not set a variable that AUCTeX depends on, unless
     AUCTeX knows that it has to run the style hooks first.

     Here is the start of such a list.





   * Completion for counters and sboxes.

   * Outline should be (better) supported in TeX mode.

     At least, support headers, trailers, as well as TeX-outline-extra.

   * `TeX-header-start' and `TeX-trailer-end'.

     We might want these, just for fun (and outlines)

   * Plain TeX and LaTeX specific header and trailer expressions.

     We should have a way to globally specify the default value of the
     header and trailer regexps.

   * Get closer to original `TeX-mode' keybindings.

     A third initialization file (`tex-mode.el') containing an emulator
     of the standard `TeX-mode' would help convince some people to
     change to AUCTeX.

   * Make `TeX-next-error' parse ahead and store the results in a list,
     using markers to remember buffer positions in order to be more
     robust with regard to line numbers and changed files.  This is what
     `next-error' does. (Or did, until Emacs 19).

   * Finish the Texinfo mode.  For one thing, many Texinfo mode
     commands do not accept braces around their arguments.

   * Hook up the letter environment with `bbdb.el'.

3 Bugs

   * The parsed files and style hooks for `example.dtx', `example.sty',
     `example.drv' and `example.bib' all clash.  Bad.

   * `C-c `' should always stay in the current window, also when it
     finds a new file.

   * Do not overwrite emacs warnings about existing auto-save files when
     loading a new file.

   * Maybe the regexp for matching a TeX symbol during parsing should be
     `"\\\\\\([a-zA-Z]+\\|.\\)"' --
     `<>' Peter Thiemann.

   * AUCTeX should not parse verbatim environments.

   * Make ``' check for math context in `LaTeX-math-mode'. and simply
     self insert if not in a math context.

   * Make `TeX-insert-dollar' more robust.  Currently it can be fooled
     by `\mbox''es and escaped double dollar for example.

   * Correct indentation for tabular, tabbing, table, math, and array

   * Syntax highlighting of LaTeX constructs spanning more than one line
     sometimes stops in the middle of the construct.  Highlighting can
     get lost during typing. (XEmacs only)

   * No syntactic font locking of verbatim macros and environments.
     (XEmacs only)

   * Font locking inside of verbatim macros and environments is not
     inhibited.  This may result in syntax highlighting of unbalanced
     dollar signs and the like spilling out of the verbatim content.
     (XEmacs only)

   * Folding of LaTeX constructs spanning more than one line may result
     in overfull lines. (XEmacs only)

Future Development of preview-latex

   * Support other formats than just LaTeX

     plain TeX users and ConTeXt users should not have to feel left
     out.  While ConTeXt is not supported yet by released versions of
     AUCTeX, at least supporting plain would help people, and be a start
     for ConTeXt as well.  There are plain-based formats like MusiXTeX
     that could benefit a lot from preview-latex.  The main part of the
     difficulties here is to adapt `preview.dtx' to produce stuff not
     requiring LaTeX.

   * Support nested snippets

     Currently you can't have both a footnote (which gets displayed as
     just its footnote number) and math inside of a footnote rendered
     as an image: such nesting might be achieved by rerunning
     preview-latex on the footnote contents when one opens the footnote
     for editing.

   * Support other text properties than just images

     Macros like `\textit' can be rendered as images, but the resulting
     humungous blob is not suitable for editing, in particular since the
     line filling from LaTeX does not coincide with that of Emacs.  It
     would be much more useful if text properties just switched the
     relevant font to italics rather than replacing the whole text with
     an image.  It would also make editing quite easier.  Then there
     are things like footnotes that are currently just replaced by
     their footnote number.  While editing is not a concern here (the
     number is not in the original text, anyway), it would save a lot
     of conversion time if no images were generated, but Emacs just
     displayed a properly fontified version of the footnote number.
     Also, this might make preview-latex useful even on text terminals.

   * Find a way to facilitate Source Specials

     Probably in connection with adding appropriate support to
     `dvipng', it would be nice if clicking on an image from a larger
     piece of source code would place the cursor at the respective
     source code location.

   * Make `preview.dtx' look reasonable in AUCTeX

     It is a bit embarrassing that `preview.dtx' is written in a manner
     that will not give either good syntax highlighting or good
     indentation when employing AUCTeX.

   * Web page work

     Currently, preview-latex's web page is not structured at all.
     Better navigation would be desirable, as well as separate News and
     Errata eye catchers.

   * Manual improvements

        - Pepper the manual with screen shots and graphics

          This will be of interest for the HTML and TeX renditions of
          the texinfo manual.  Since Texinfo now supports images as
          well, this could well be nice to have.

        - Fix duplicates

          Various stuff appears several times.

   * Implement rendering pipelines for Emacs

     The current `gs.el' interface is fundamentally flawed, not only
     because of a broken implementation.  A general batchable and
     daemonizable rendering infrastructure that can work on all kinds of
     preview images for embedding into buffers is warranted.  The
     current implementation has a rather adhoc flavor and is not easily
     extended.  It will not work outside of AUCTeX, either.

   * Integrate into RefTeX

     When referencing to equations and the like, the preview-images of
     the source rather than plain text should be displayed.  If the
     preview in question covers labels, those should appear in the
     bubble help and/or a context menu.  Apropos:

   * Implement LaTeX error indicators

     Previews on erroneous LaTeX passages might gain a red border or

   * Pop up relevant online documentation for frequent errors

     A lot of errors are of the "badly configured" variety.  Perhaps the
     relevant info pages should be delivered in addition to the error

   * Implement a table editing mode where every table cell gets output
     as a separate preview.  Alternatively, output the complete table
     metrics in a way that lets people click on individual cells for
     editing purposes.

   * Benchmark and kill Emacs inefficiencies

     Both the LaTeX run under Emacs control as well as actual image
     insertion in Emacs could be faster.  CVS Emacs has improved in that
     respect, but it still is slower than desirable.

   * Improve image support under Emacs

     The general image and color handling in Emacs is inefficient and
     partly defective.  This is still the case in CVS.  One option
     would be to replace the whole color and image handling with GDK
     routines when this library is available, since it has been
     optimized for it.