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I recently took a look at the list of the various Local User Groups on the TUG homepage and recognized that there is no separate TeX group in Austria. As far as I know most of the Austrian universities are using (La)TeX as their main document preparation system and so I'm wondering why there is no separate user group (apart from DANTE).

I'm very serious about the benefits of using LaTeX and I'm trying to get more and more people, especially students, into it. (It's a small project at the moment, which I refer to as "TeX4Schools") This idea of emphasizing the use of TeX and related systems is one of the basic ideas of a TUG, as mentioned in What are the benefits of joining TUG, the TeX Users Group?

So, is there any reason why Austria has no separate TUG?

I personally think that nobody has considered creating a local user group for TeX in Austria yet, but maybe someone here has a better explanation.

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    Interesting question, but I'm wondering if it has a 'good' answer. User groups are about community and so people, so 'there hasn't been the right group of people' might well cover it. At the same time, I'd assume the needs of Austrian users are similar to those of German users, and DANTE is big, so that might also impact. – Joseph Wright May 14 '15 at 15:43
  • On that latter point, note that UK-TUG for example is very small largely as there isn't a strong need to provide language-specific features for the UK. The presence or otherwise of TeX users in the UK has much less relevance! – Joseph Wright May 14 '15 at 15:44
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    DANTE is not for Germany, but for german speaking people, so the LUG for Austria is DANTE. We've had two conferences in Austria already and the next one will be there, too. :-) – Reinstate Monica - M. Schröder May 14 '15 at 15:45
  • I've flagged this for migration to Meta. – Reinstate Monica - M. Schröder May 14 '15 at 15:45
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    @MartinSchröder Meta would be unsuitable (it's not about TeX-sx), so if you think it's off-topic here it's off-topic entirely. I'd say that would be a shame. – Joseph Wright May 14 '15 at 15:48
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most "local" tex user groups are based on language rather than geography, since that is where common technical problems arise.

as pointed out in a comment by Martin Schröder, the group for german speakers is dante. this is a large and thriving group, encouraging even more "local" participation through affiliated stammtische. if there's not one in your area, organizing one could provide the community support you seem to be looking for.

  • The Stammtische system sounds interesting. Nevertheless a local group would be interesting. The good thing is that my idea of this whole thing is very young and might evolve in the following years. Furthermore I'm starting to study at university in a year and there will probably be more people with similar thoughts – Simon M. Laube May 14 '15 at 16:27
  • @SimonM.Laube -- see my comment to the main question. you may very well disagree with the content of the article i've pointed to, but i think you'll agree that the young author makes a good argument. anyhow, something for you to think about. – barbara beeton May 14 '15 at 16:30
  • Thank you for your effort. I'll definitely have a look at the paper later. – Simon M. Laube May 14 '15 at 16:31
  • @SimonM.Laube -- one more comment ... in 1990, latex was still in its infancy. the scenery has changed radically since then. i've no idea how that might have affected konrad's conclusions. – barbara beeton May 14 '15 at 16:36
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    @SimonM.Laube -- just send a message saying i asked you to get in touch. i'll answer from another address. – barbara beeton May 16 '15 at 17:16
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I think you’re looking at the problem from the wrong angle. Having an organisation can bring benefits and help individuals at the local level, but it also takes time and energy to run the organisation itself (as opposed to working on actual actions to promote TeX in Austria). And as has been pointed out, there’s already such an organisation – sorry to insist, but I felt it needed to be repeated.

I suggest to look at it the other way round: you are the local presence, and you can use DANTE to support your initiatives. You should start by contacting them and find out what they can do to help run and grow your project. As has been pointed out, they’re very big, they have members all over the German-speaking area (including Austria), a lot of documents about TeX, and they have money too. I can’t predict what they will be able to do for you exactly as I’m not part of the board – but that’s precisely why you should talk to them. In any case a user group is not going to sprout spontaneously as it depends on people such as you to run it.

  • That is somehow confusing since I thought that my point of view is the same as the one pointed out by you. Nevertheless the two answers are completely different. The only thing I can add at the moment is that I am aware of the work that needs to be done to run a users group, but still I cannot understand why Austria has no TUG, because there are so many involved people at the Austrian universities. – Simon M. Laube May 26 '15 at 5:45
  • That’s because my point of view takes in account the simple fact that there is a TeX user group in Austria and that we thus cannot answer the question as you asked it. I was answering from the practical point of view because I think you actually want to do something concrete, and the first step is clearly is to contact DANTE. It’s not an ivory tower in Heidelberg, it’s run by actual people all over the German-speaking area and I’m sure you’ll find that there are members close to you, who could help you for local actions. – Arthur Reutenauer May 26 '15 at 10:39
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Since this forum isn't intended for long-time discussions and the question thread is more or less dead, I thought about answering my own question, providing some additional information from my point of view.

TeX User Group in Austria

Some of the comments and one answer mentioned, that user groups are based on the language of a country/region. Therefore Austria wouldn't really need a separate TUG for language reasons, since the DANTE in Germany is a very ambitious group for German-speaking users. Nevertheless a local TUG could be useful in other ways, which are not language related. One of the general aims of a TUG is:

To encourage and expand the use of TeX, LaTeX, Metafont and related systems

Thus, local user groups could be very important for the spreading of (La)TeX within a country and in my opinion this point should not be underestimated. As I mentioned in the comments, a few teachers and I managed to introduce LaTeX to about 150+ people at my school in Lower Austria and the feedback has been phenomenal so far.

However, it turned out that there seems to be no real reason why Austria does not have a separate TUG. On the other side there is also no real reason why anybody should start one, except for the idea of spreading LaTeX more locally.

TeX4Schools

What hasn't been mentioned before is that Austria is somehow active in the LaTeX community or at least uses the program a lot. Thus, it's even more surprising that there is no separate users group.

@barbarabeeton pointed out an article from the 1990's, which was written by the Austrian Konrad Neuwirth (a student at a gymnasium in Vienna), who considered bringing TeX into schools as a programming language. His conclusion was that it wouldn't be very useful for students that have never used a computer for programming. Konrad also mentioned that TeX wouldn't fit the Austrian school system and its subjects.

Since then a lot has changed and TeX, especially LaTeX, has evolved. Based on the success of LaTeX as a typesetting program at our school, I thought about bringing it to other upper secondary schools (in Austria), although I wasn't familiar with Konrad's article at that time. The new idea is to use LaTeX as a typesetting program only, which fits the Austrian school system better than the idea of using TeX as a programming language in schools. This approach could be one reason to start a local users group in Austria, although I do not know if I want to take care of this project yet.

All I do know is that the topic could be more relevant at a later date than it is now and possibly there will be a separate TUG in Austria in a few years or more. Who knows?

  • I do not want to sound repetitive, but there ist a tug for austria! From the dante Web page: "DANTE (Deutschsprachige Anwendervereinigung TeX e.V.) wurde am 14. April 1989 in Heidelberg gegründet. Der Zweck des Vereins ist die Betreuung und Beratung von TeX-Benutzern im gesamten deutschsprachigen Raum" – MaxNoe May 26 '15 at 7:04
  • As I know the DANTE is the user group for German-speaking users. This, of course, can't be ignored when talking about Austria as the language is the same. Nevertheless everything on this page was ment to act even more locally than the DANTE could. As mentioned in other comments it's nearly the same situation with the UK and they indeed have a separate TUG. So I would not say that there is an Austrian TUG when you look at it from a geographical point of view. I've added a few "separate"s to my answer, hope that shows up the difference a bit more. – Simon M. Laube May 26 '15 at 9:00
  • DANTE understands itself as the austrian LUG gesamter deutschsprachiger Raum. It is not a geographically german club. – MaxNoe May 26 '15 at 9:06
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    How else woudl you explain that this years meeting in september is in Graz – MaxNoe May 26 '15 at 9:08
  • @SimonM.Laube The point about UK-TUG is that TUG understands itself as the global TeX user group, I think that’s what prompted people to create a specific group for the UK (I can find out the details if you want). I can almost guarantee that if there was no such group today, nobody would even think of starting one. Back to the topic of Austria, it seems likewise silly and a waste of resources to create an Austrian group today when there is a group that organises events in Austria (unless you want to make a Slovenian nationalistic point that Styria should be part of Slovenia, of course). – Arthur Reutenauer May 26 '15 at 11:03

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