Thanks, Idris, for your interest. I don’t understand enough
about typesetting and computer math to make an informed sugestion,
but I’ll try my best.

What about a Metapost-like main engine to define the general
layout of pages? That engine would know about borders, floating
spaces for pictures or text, and handle “global” information
like main fonts or page numbers etc.; and even draw on the page.
Plug-ins would render specific information. The main engine
could also do Metapost-like operations on what comes from that

That engine would call plug-ins to render anything, using a
standard human-writable tag language. The engine will provide
plug-ins a shape they should fill, as well as tips on how to fill
it (“amount of ink”, how to deal with unconnected shapes,
available fonts etc.); and share information with plug-ins so they
can know, for instance, which symbols can be used for footnotes,
and inform back which ones they have used. Plug-ins would respond
rendered results, as well as indicators about how good is the
result and what could be done to get it better (less or more to
render, adjusts in their area shape etc.). Main engine and
plug-ins would negociate good parameters, shapes and information
set until they are both happy (enough).

The reason for a standard tag language is that the main engine
should be able to do some operations on data, like breaking it in
pieces like words, paragraphs or staffs on music scores, sometimes
without fully understanding what exactly those are.

Possible outcomes: with a proper script language (Lua?),
things like tables, multi-column text, and even a lot of crazy
ideas could be really easy to write. Plug-ins results would be
predictable, since they know nothing about the world except what
the main engine has informed them.


 > Hi Maurício,
 >> Sorry to insist, but I would be really interested in approaches
 >> that are not just great things we could add to TeX.
 >> For instance: would it be possible to have some kind of “layout
 >> engine” to which text processing would be just one among other
 >> plug-ins? I wonder what kind of information that engine should
 >> share with plug-ins. Do you think such system is possible? Or
 >> something else?
 > I would love to hear more of your thoughts on this. Don't hold back!
 > Best wishes
 > Idris

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