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I am wondering why the Tex community does not have some sort of central Content Management System for version control and bug tracking, say, at CTAN. This community is surely large and mature enough for such an infrastructure, see TX.SX. It is embracing new technology when useful, see, again, TX.SX, or LuaTeX.

I am aware that some packages use such CMS'. I also know that MiKTeX does have a bug tracker at sourceforge, while TexLive does not. Wouldn't it be great if these forces were to be joined?

Background

I have mixed experiences with bug reporting via personal email. Heiko Oberdiek was very responsive, providing a new version of hyperref. On the other hand, I have a bug report for refcheck, but the email address of the maintainer is dead (host does not resolve). Now I have this neat MWE here, and nowhere to post it.

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closed as not constructive by Stephen, Kurt, Martin Schröder, lockstep, Stefan Kottwitz Dec 20 '12 at 22:08

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I think you mean something other than CMS, which is what is used to drive websites using database back-ends –  Joseph Wright Dec 20 '12 at 17:48
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I think that definition is self-conflicting. Central and collaborative concepts have changed after Bitkeeper and Git. Probably Wikipedia needs updating. But anyway this kind of emerging terminology is not a matter of science and you would get probably more help if you use the common terms. –  percusse Dec 20 '12 at 18:13
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Do you think there's a correct answer? I have doubts. It looks like a topic which can be talked about, but rather not on a Q&A site. There are ways, since we can work with TeX like with other programming languages, but who could ever answer the question for TeX as a whole? I guess the question can be closed as it leads to talks but not to an answer. –  Stefan Kottwitz Dec 20 '12 at 18:15
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Isn't CTAN really a surprisingly tiny collection of individual volunteers? Do you mean package authors should submit their packages to 'CTAN' which would then be responsible for maintenance of all issues and bugs? Or that 'CTAN' could arbitrarily decide packages were 'unmaintained' and 'fix' bugs as they saw fit? IIRC, there is a process for getting a package declared 'unmaintained', but it is a slow and deliberately conservative process. Finally, why can't you post your refcount issue here; if it gets fixed, what's to stop you from creating refcountx. Heiko Oberdiek has done this b4 too. –  jon Dec 20 '12 at 18:50
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@jon: Please write such words out: “b4” means “before” I guess. You should not forget, that a lot users are not native English speakers with different levels of language knowledge. –  Speravir Dec 20 '12 at 18:54

2 Answers 2

Well, it might be great but one thing is commonly forgotten: There are people needed to maintain everything and keep it running. The installation of a system is just a tiny part of the whole, it requires continous effort and a lot of time to install patches and take care of the server hardware. Most of the work around TeX is done by unpaid volunteers who spend their free time to work for the TeX community.

A version control and bugtracking system would be a nice thing for sure, but there are IMHO a few reasons that speak against:

  1. TeX code is ASCII, there are almost no binaries which require code storage. Old TeX Live DVDs contain older package versions if needed.
  2. If a package author dies or is just unavailable a version control/bug tracking system won't help much unless someone feels himself responsible to maintain the package and fix the bug.
  3. The man and systems to operate such a thing is significant.

If you feel however capable to set up and maintain such a system for CTAN, start it! Great things often come from the hands of a single or just a few persons, see the CTAN history in Wikipedia.

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Ad 1: So is the GNOME code. Ad 2: Reported bugs could be found by other people having the same problem. You can also be sure to actually have reported your bug, and your email did not just ended up in the spam filter of a maintainer. Ad 3: I agree, but there are already several such systems for individual packages, and for MiKTeX. A central system might not be much more work. –  mafp Dec 20 '12 at 19:42
    
None of the three points differentiate TeX from any other open source software collection. 1. Version control systems store source, not binaries. 2. No bug fixes itself, someone has to do it. 3. And yes, that's a significant service but the software for it exists: TeX needs nothing that github or bitbucket don't already provide. TeX is special, but not that special. –  alexis Dec 20 '12 at 22:20

Many individual packages have their bug tracking system, for example, http://puszcza.gnu.org.ua/projects/tex4ht/. TeX and friends is a huge collection (or rather collections, if you count each distribution) of code from many different independent sources, mostly volunteers. It is an ecosystem rather than a project. Thus we probably will never have a uniform management system - which is probably a good thing anyway.

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