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Sticking with the older packages I was able to resolve something I was curious about. Namely how does one optionally change the pen when specifying the pic. Following the advice @Loop Space provided, namely don't mush all of ones keys together under one path, actually use the styles you define, store ones values in the pgf tree and provide a wrapper macro ...

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The basic rule with keys (there are exceptions) is that you need to do the following things: Initialise a key, Define a key, Use a key. On the whole, I find that once I'm in the pgfkeys ecosystem then it is best to stay there. So the values height, width, upper, and lower can be stored in keys rather than needing auxiliary macros. With the pen, when ...

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Since # has category code 6, it has a very special meaning in TeX, because it is used for denoting parameters in macro definitions. The rules of TeX tell that when you want to store a # in the replacement text of a macro, you need to double it. When processing the replacement text for a macro definition, a single # has to be followed by a digit (1 to 9), ...

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