Frame with solid left line

18 August, 2017 (1 minute read). Category: Visualization. Tags: backgrounds, framed.

Adding a solid line of the left side of a frame, block quote, etc. creates a simple, clean, and attractive visual effect that I like.

{map[src:/context-blog/post/frame-with-solid-left-line/leftframe-0.png class:center alt:Simple example]  Page("Frame with solid left line") <nil> true <nil>}

I don’t know when I first came across this style, but it is used commonly on the Internet to show blockquotes. So, how do we get this style with ConTeXT?

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Drop shadows with lifted corners

6 August, 2017 (2 minute read). Category: Visualization. Tags: metapost, backgrounds, shadows.

There is an old question on TeX.SE asking how to draw drop shadows with a lifted corner. For fun, I decided to translate the code to Metapost and release it as a module: t-backgrounds. I hope to add a few other backgrounds to the module in the near future.

The module provides two overlays liftedshadow:big and liftedshadow:medium. These may be used like any other overlay. Let’s see an example:

{map[src:/context-blog/post/drop-shadow-with-lifted-corners/example.png class:center alt:Simple example]  Page("Drop shadows with lifted corners") <nil> true <nil>}

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Correct math escape in t-vim

22 July, 2017 (3 minute read). Category: Formatting. Tags: t-vim, math, horizontal spacing, code formatting.

There is a feature in t-vim module that allows the use of TeX code in comments, which is useful when typeset math in comments. For example:

\definevimtyping[C][syntax=c, escape=on]

/* The following function computes the roots of \m{ax^2+bx+c=0}
 * using the determinant \m{\Delta=\frac{-b\pm\sqrt{b^2-2ac}}{2a}}

double root (double a, double b, double c) {....}

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Rising from the ashes

10 June, 2017 (1 minute read). Category: Announcement. Tags: blog.

I used to blog on Wordpress, mainly about ConTeXt, but occasionally about other stuff as well. It has been almost three years since I last posted there. I got busy. Both in my personal and professional life. This is an attempt to restart that blog.

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Metapost and TeX labels

22 January, 2014 (3 minute read). Category: Metapost. Tags: label, metapost.

Default Metapost has the concept of two types of labels, postscript labels and TeX labels. Postscript labels are created using

label("text", location);

while TeX labels are created using

label(btex text etex, location);

In the latter case, Metapost collects everything between btex and etex in a separate file, processes that file through TeX, and includes the resulting postscript code at an appropriate location. Such a Rube Golberg-esque mechanism is needed to propertly typeset mathematics, get proper kerning, etc.; tasks that TeX can do but Postscript cannot.

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Creating a clean presentation style in 40 commits

13 January, 2013 (1 minute read). Category: Visualization. Tags: git, presentation, tutorial.

Did you always want to learn ConTeXt, but did not know where to start? I have written a git-based tutorial that should help you get started. The idea of the tutorial is to start with an empty document, and add features one-by-one. Each git commit corresponds to one small change in the document, and includes pointers to the documentation corresponding to that change. Read Use this tutorial as follows: Clone the git repository:

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Separation of content and presentation in tables

18 November, 2012 (4 minute read). Category: Formatting. Tags: tables, separating content and presentation.

Separation of content and presentation is one of the selling points of TeX over word-processors. Strictly speaking, TeX is not superior compared to word-processors in this regard. It is possible to obtain a clean separation between content and presentation in word-processors (using styles) and it is possible to mix content and presentation in TeX code, as is illustrated by the following example from sample tex file for the IEEE Conference on Decision and Control:

\title{\LARGE \bf
Preparation of Papers for IEEE CSS Sponsored Conferences \& Symposia

(Seriously, how can anyone recommend writing TeX code like that!)

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Removing multiple blank lines when typesetting code listings

29 September, 2012 (2 minute read). Category: Formatting. Tags: t-vim, code formatting, blank lines.

The listings package in LaTeX has an option to collapse multiple empty lines into a single empty line when typesetting code lists. Today, there was a question on TeX.SE how to do something similar when using the minted package. The t-vim module uses the same principle as the minted package. So, I wondered how one could collapse multiple empty lines into a single line in t-vim?

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Preprocessing Markdown with GPP: Or how I stopped worrying and started using Markdown like TeX

1 June, 2012 (7 minute read). Category: Markdown. Tags: gpp, pandoc.

These days I type most of simple documents (short articles, blog entries, course notes) in markdown. Markdown provides only the basic structured elements (sections, emphasis, urls, lists, footnotes, syntax highlighting, simple tables and figures) which makes it easy to transform the input into multiple output formats. Most of the time, I still want PDF output and for that, I use pandoc to convert markdown to ConTeXt. At the same time, I have the peace of mind that if I need HTML or DOC output, I’ll be able to get that easily.

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Some thoughts on lowering the learning curve for using TeX

4 September, 2011 (6 minute read). Category: Learning. Tags: asciimode, catcodes.

TeX has a steep learning curve. Often times, steeper than it needs to be. Take, for example, the special characters in TeX. Almost every introduction to plain TeX, eplain, LaTeX, or ConTeXt has a section on these special characters

\ { } $ & # ^ _ & ~

A good introduction then goes on to explain why these special characters are important; sometimes dropping a hint about category codes. I feel that these details are useless and, at the user level, we should get rid of them.

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