Before yesterday, on 25 July 2017, the media9 package was updated by its developer Alexander Grahn (aka AlexG) on the deposit of the CTAN.

Today by performing an automatic update of MiKTeX, this package has not been updated with the latest version 0.82.

Therefore, the MiKTeX client software installed on my computer does not automatically search the CTAN for the latest updated packages (comparing dates). On MiKTeX, it is the developer Christian Schenk who manually maintains an update list to which each client software connects (software installed on computers).

On texlive, the process is also fully manual. Why are client-side package updates not fully automated on latex distributions? Is because of the software that manages the archiving on the CTAN?

What is this software on the CTAN? GIT? SVN? CVS? Another one?

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    I'm not entirely sure this is answerable. Both Christian and the TL team are entitled to use whatever workflows work for them: both have some scripting but there is I think a manual checking step. However, only they can confirm that. I'm not really clear on the link to CTAN: it's an archive in the 'classical' sense: a big hard-disk organised into directories, not any kind of version control system. – Joseph Wright Jul 27 '17 at 6:15
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    Before a package like media9 can be installed by the miktex package manager it must be prepared: It is packed in an archive (today .tar.lzma) and it needs a tpm-file: This is an xml-file with the information where every file in the package has to go to in the tex system. With texlive it is similar. – Ulrike Fischer Jul 27 '17 at 7:04
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    The TeX distributions don't download directly from the CTAN package directory but maintain their own archive of packaged (zipped) packages which is updated in a more or less regular fashion. While this happens on a nearly daily basis for TeXLive (apart from the frozen period in late spring), the average update interval is about a week for MiKTeX. – AlexG Jul 27 '17 at 7:06
  • It was updated this morning. – Bernard Jul 27 '17 at 10:20
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    At least for TL, it is not 'fully manual' if you mean everything is done by hand. In simple cases, a script is run to create/update the package. The script is (or was) run by hand, but the packaging steps are automated. But many cases are not simple and any package could have become non-simple as the result of an update .... – cfr Jul 28 '17 at 0:43

The problem is that the packages on CTAN are not consumption ready, that is they are not in the correct format (TDS tree) necessary for MikTeX and TeXLive but in whatever format the author uploads them. The conversion to TDS is in the TL case semi automatic, but many times hand work is necessary. Thus, direct updates from CTAN are not possible. Furthermore, name conflicts have to be taken care of - packages shipping the same filename are problematic.

If CTAN had strict format requirements (like CRAN, for example), and strict naming requirements for files, it would be possible, though that is not the intention or wish of CTAN.

  • Even if the format requirements were strict, you'd need CTAN to enforce naming rules, too. Otherwise, a package author might add a file creating a name conflict. (This would be extremely easy to do, of course.) Then TeX Live would have, say, two <filename>.stys or whatever. (Or did you mean the strict format requirements to also include strict naming requirements? I don't know what CRAN is. Another acronym, I guess.) – cfr Jul 28 '17 at 0:41
  • Indeed, that is part of the strict rules – norbert Jul 28 '17 at 0:54
  • @cfr CRAN is the CTAN for R packages. – Alan Munn Jul 28 '17 at 0:58
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    @AndréC You mess up open source project with distribution, the later agglomerating many projects. Take any Linux distribution: They need to package the various programs into their specific format, and make sure that there are no conflicts. In Debian these are the .deb packages, or .rpm etc etc. This has absolutely nothing to do with using a VCS or not, nothing as in zero. – norbert Jul 28 '17 at 7:19
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    @AndréC In addition to what Norbert says, remember that CTAN predates all of those approaches: it goes back to the tape archive at Aston University. – Joseph Wright Jul 28 '17 at 8:03

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