Improving exsheets

solving exercises

It has been quite a while since I first published exsheets – a package for creating exercise sheets with LaTeX – in Juni 2012. Since then it has gained a user base and a little bit of popularity as the number of questions on shows. User questions, bug reports and feature requests improved it over the time. It still has a version number starting with a zero, though, which in my versioning system means I still consider it experimental.

This is due to several facts. It lacks a few features which I consider essential for a full version 1. For one thing it is not possible to have several kinds of exercises numbered independently. Using verbatim material such as listings inside questions and solutions is not possible and the current workaround isn’t that ideal either. One request which dates back quite a while now was to have different types of points to questions…

All of those aren’t easy to add due to the way exsheets is implemented right now. As a consequence I wanted to re-implement exsheets for a long time. And that is what I have done in the last month. Internally this completely changes how the package works. Unfortunately this also has an impact on the user interface. The new implementation will not be compatible with the old one. For this reason I decided to publish the new implementation as a new package. It will be the official successor of exsheets which then will be considered obsolete and will only receive bugfix releases any more.

The new package will be called xsim – eXercise Sheets IMproved. Right now the first version 0.1pre-1 seems to be usable but requires testing. So I invite everyone interested in testing the package and its features. As a teaser:

  • verbatim material is now allowed,
  • having different types of exercises (numbered independently or sharing a counter) is possible,
  • having as many different types of points as wanted is possible,
  • the styling possibilities are even bigger than with exsheets as users can define the layout from scratch if they wish,
  • tagging questions with different types of tags (plain tags, difficulty levels, topics,…) and selecting exercises using those tags,
  • collecting exercises into collections and printing the collections anywhere in the document is possible

It does have a preliminary manual which is not quite complete, yet. But the github repository where you can find and download the package also contains an example file which demonstrates some of the features.

Picture: © Henry Klingberg/pixelio

a new chemmacros – but how?

Umfrage (c) Thorben Wengert/pixelio

I have written earlier about a new concept for chemmacros and about the current development of chemmacros. I really want to go along with e idea of modularity. In fact so much that I already have a draft completed (without manual and probably a number of bugs but still…). The big question is, though: How do I procede without annoying all the users of chemmacros? If I am consequent with the modularity then there need to be breaking changes.
Continue reading “a new chemmacros – but how?”

The Template Story

Bauklötze (c) Sabine Schmidt/pixelio

In the LaTeX community templates for documents are a recurring topic of discussion. I have written about it:

Others have written about it:

It all boils down to this: templates often contain bad code or don’t follow good LaTeX practice but on the same time many not so experienced users like to use templates for their documents. This is the source for many, many problems and questions in LaTeX forums and Q&A sites. Continue reading “The Template Story”

Name change and other changes

Construction site (c) Michael Loeper/pixelio

Yesterday I’ve changed the name of this blog. The reason is that I’d like to change the focus of this blog away from chemistry in LaTeX.

More precisely I want LaTeX in general to be the topic. That doesn’t mean I won’t be writing about chemistry in LaTeX any more – of course I still will. But there are so much more topics worth writing about! Certainly one main focus will be news about the development of my packages (one reason for not focussing on the chemistry part: I have a number of packages not related to chemistry at all!). Continue reading “Name change and other changes”