[NTG-context] Discussion: correspondence with ConTeXt

Willi Egger w.egger at boede.nl
Fri Apr 18 09:50:12 CEST 2008


Hi Wolfgang,

First of all thanks for this initiative! - Until now I composed a  
letter based on a "template" I build one day. Nothing special though.  
- Still a module which would allow for writing letters and quotes  
consistently  would make live easier.
As I am living in the Netherlands, we use commonly block-style  
letters. Will your module provide the possibility to use a header on  
the first page and e.g. a smaller something in the margin on the  
second and following pages? Will your module provide page-numbering  
switched on beginning at the second page if the document is longer  
than 1 page? - This last point is in my environment always a struggle...

The Dutch TeX users group has released on CTAN a ntgclass.zip  
(LaTeX). There are three articles which might help to "enlighten"  
you. Unfortunately two of the three articles are written in Dutch  
(briefdoc.pdf, brief.pdf). In case you intend to include ideas  
contained in this NEN-1026 style letter I am happy to help you  
translating the important parts of those articles.

I am looking forward to your module

Kind regards

Willi

On Apr 17, 2008, at 10:13 AM, Wolfgang Schuster wrote:

> Hi all,
>
>
> Preface
>
>
> most of the discussions in the last weeks on the list
> concerned LuaTeX and MkIV with the topic fonts, xml and bugs,
> currently not implemented functions and bug and in the last
> few days also mplib. I will try start with this mail a
> hopefully interesting discuassions wuth many people about the
> current state to use ConTeXt for correspondence in personal
> and business live.
>
>
>
> Introduction
>
>
> Although ConTeXt has many features and can be used for nearly
> every type of document with many features to adapt the layout
> to ones personal requirements we have still a few places where
> something is missing or force us to use another tool. I will
> focus myself for the moment on the missing support for a real
> module to write letter and other correspondence.
>
>
>
> The Past and the present
>
>
> A few modules had been written in the past to write letter but
> wether they are not available like Hans own module or it is to
> complicated to use.
>
> Hans own module m-letter.tex was never included in the main
> distribution and the documentation [1] was never finished but
> it is now possible to find a older version in the list
> archives. The strong point on the module are the possibility
> to change the size and position of the address and reference
> fields but it was nearly impossible to add extra information
> like values for sender or to make big changes in the layout.
>
> The second option to write a letter was and is Holger Schöners
> letterstyle environment [2], he provided a layout for german
> letters with a DIN style and macros to store address and
> sender information. What looked like a good solution to me at
> first glance had also many disadvatages, the names for the
> fields in the refrence line used hard to memorize name like
> \lettersenderkey... and no high level interface to set them.
> Another point to me which prevented me from using the style
> was the hard way to change the layout, the environment
> provided commands to change the values but all was done with
> simple definition and no setup command.
>
> A few user write their own simple setups and environemnts to
> write letter [2,3] but none of them was really confugrable or
> provided a real interface.
>
>
>
> The future
>
>
> The lack of any good soution for this topic forced me to write
> my own letter module for ConTeXt. I started myself with Hans
> letter module and added a extra field to add my own address
> but this was at a time where I was still new to ConTeXt and
> most of the content in m-letter.tex where confusing to me and
> I had problem to adapt the layout to my own requirements.
> After I gained a little bit more knowledge in TeX and ConTeXt
> is started to write a new module from scratch with the option
> to load style files and set the information for the address
> and all other information with a better interface.
>
> After nearly one and a helf years and 2 major revisions I have
> nearly finished my module and would will make it now available
> also to other users. But before I make my last stable version
> online I want to discuss a few points with interested users.
>
>
>
> The discussion
>
>
> Before I start to give you information about my module and
> give you the chance to mention your own wishes or thoughts
> about the inteface I'm interested what do you use currently to
> write you own correspondence (letter, invoices etc.).
>
> After this interesting question for me I will now make a few
> information about my module available.
>
> The module use by default the definition for german business
> letters as layout where the position for the address block and
> the reference line are defined. To change the layout for your
> own letter I provide the option to change the default settings
> with the one for all command \setupletterstyle, you could use
> it to set the page layout, the position for the different
> blocks for address and sender information and also for the
> bodyfontsize and parskip and parindent. To use once defined
> for many letter you could save them in so called letterstyle
> files which can be loaded either with the module
> \usemodule[letter][style=...] or within the letter with the
> command \useletterstyle[...].
>
> The lettertext is written between the \startletter ...
> \stopletter environment and it is possible to write in
> adcouemnt as many letters as you want, you could write serial
> letters and use the correspodence modul to save the address
> information in a XMl file.
>
> The values for letter are set with the \setupletter command
> but this is one of the still open points, the current
> implemtation requires sometimes to many lines for just a few
> information and I plan to replace it with a simpler system.
>
> Take the following minimal example
>
> \usemodule[letter]
>
> \setupletter
>   [sender]
>   [name={Mike Meiers},
>    address={Mustergasse 12\\25694 Musterstadt}]
>
> \setupletter
>   [address]
>   [name={Hans Hansen},
>    address={Zielweg 34\\78561 Tiny Town}]
>
> \starttext
>
> \startletter
>   [opening={Dear Hans,}]
>
> letter text
>
> \stopletter
>
> \stoptext
>
> As you can see the opening for the letter is set as optional
> argument for \startletter because it is also possible to write
> it in the long form \setupletter[data][opening=...] but a
> simpler system could be usefull especially if you want to set
> only text for address and something like
> \setupletter[fromname=...,address=...] or
> \setlettervalue[address]{...} are options to replace the
> current solution.
>
> Before I release I first public bety version of the modul I
> want to hear which interface to set the letter information do
> you prefer and do you have things do want in the module. I
> could provide more ready to use layout for the module (like
> block style for americal letter) but I need information about
> the layout and the position for the fields.
>
>
> Wolfgang Schuster
>
> [1] http://www.pragma-ade.com/show-man-29.htm
> [2] http://wiki.contextgarden.net/Letter_style
> [3] http://www.tug.org/pracjourn/2006-3/hogg/
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