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
* Combining `docTeX' with RefTeX
Macro cross references should also be usable for document
navigation using RefTeX.
* 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
* 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 `firstname.lastname@example.org'.
* 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 `<email@example.com>'.
* 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'.
* 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
`<firstname.lastname@example.org>' 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.
* 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.
* 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
* 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
* 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
* 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.