INTERHACK  


Hierarchy of TeXnical Accomplishments

Beginner
  • Pronounces TeX like the name of a country singer.
  • Is always searching for a TeX help menu in the text editor.
  • Does not know what an operating system is, but thinks that TeX is a part of it.
  • Has no idea what \section is for.
  • Queues the .tex file to the printer.
  • Has serious troubles remembering the \ before a command name.
  • Cannot understand why WinWord is not installed on this nasty machine.
Novice:
  • Knows that no help menu is available.
  • Uses \begin {...}, but \end's only 50% of them.
  • Queues the .dvi file to the printer.
  • Thinks that penalties are a bad thing for soccer players.
  • Has heard somewhere that TeX is good for mathematical formulas.
  • Cannot understand why \section is better than {\Large \bf}.
  • Has never heard about METAFONT.
  • Is amazed why WinWord was so much faster in printing.
  • Does not know what a tabular is, but needs one in his document.
  • Wonders how to print a backslash and tries \\.
  • Sometimes forgets \documentstyle or \begin{document}.
User
  • Uses \section etc., but has never heard about optional arguments.
  • Once has created a table of contents using \tableofcontents.
  • Has heard about dimensions, but never seen one.
  • Occasionally types / instead of \.
  • Wonders why some guys like TeX so much.
  • Wants to write a whole paragraph underlined, but has no idea how.
  • Thinks that \newcommand is only for freaks.
  • Uses tabulars, but doesn't know what ``\halign'' in the error message means.
  • Knows that style files contain style information.
  • Uses the terms ``TeX'' and ``LaTeX'' as synonyms.
  • Has learned that typing H after an error message is sometimes funny and never useful.
Intermediate
  • Uses list environments confidently.
  • Has never heard about \def.
  • Had first bad experience with fragile commands.
  • Thinks that Knuth is the name of a local talk show host.
  • Has figured out that optional arguments need not to be given.
  • Has some strange wishes to change LaTeX style, but fortunately is unable to do it.
  • Is proud to have used \newcommand or \define two times in life.
  • Has heard that METAFONT is for font generation.
Knowledgeable
  • Generates displayed equations, but inexpertly.
  • Once has seen The TeX book.
  • Writes simple macros in every document.
  • Would like to know how to implement optional parameters.
  • Frequently asks the local TeX guru for troubleshooting.
  • Reads comp.text.tex every month.
  • Considers macro expansion rules completely uninteresting.
  • Had tried the picture environment, but returned to pen and ruler quickly.
  • Is about to learn about \displaystyle to \scriptscriptstyle.
  • Thinks that \def is an abbreviation for \newcommand.
  • Changes counter values to number sections beginning with zero.
  • Has been told that one can alter style files, but doesn't believe it.
Advanced
  • Uses most LaTeX features with comfort.
  • Has read The TeX book, but failed to solve exercise 6.1.
  • Thinks that ``dangerous bend'' is dangerous.
  • Posts his troubles to comp.text.tex.
  • Cannot imagine an application for \csname.
  • Has learned about horizontal and vertical mode.
  • Believes that WEB is an arm of Spiderman.
  • Knows that glue isn't dirty.
  • Thinks that one must be ill to use \expandafter.
  • Wonders who is smart enough to write dvi drivers.
  • Has heard about \gdef, but regards it worthless.
TeXnician
  • Has read and understood The TeX book, except appendix D.
  • Answers colleagues' questions about TeX by cutting and pasting sections from his online source copy of The TeX book and sending it to them in email.
  • Uses \input to load his own macro package.
  • Would like to use \if... some day, but does not see an application for it.
  • Has read about sfcodes.
  • Writes macros with delimited parameters.
  • Knows something about inner vertical and restricted horizontal mode.
  • Thinks that \futurelet is a useless nightmare.
  • Has once used \edef.
  • Implements exotic fonts on his laser printer with METAFONT.
Hacker
  • Uses \csname instead of \ifcase if there are more than two alternatives.
  • Has installed emTeX on several PCs.
  • Knows how to generate logos etc. with METAFONT.
  • Uses \xdef when necessary.
  • Can answer any question of novices to intermediates.
  • Knows how to fix bugs in macros.
  • Cannot remember when he used \newcommand the last time.
  • Starts each document with \{documentstyle [mymacros,mylists,mygrapix] {private}.
  • Posts answers to comp.text.tex every week.
  • Has learned that active characters can do a lot.
Guru
  • Is completely familiar with dvi formats.
  • Has gotten in trouble for filling all available disk space with METAFONT files.
  • Fixes bugs in printer drivers by looking at the C source.
  • Can answer any question about TeX, LaTeX or AMSTeX after a few seconds of thought.
  • Uses \afterassignment twice a day.
  • Has read ``The Art of Computer Programming'' and quotes it frequently.
  • Cannot imagine why any human being uses WinWord.
  • Begins every posting to comp.text.tex with ``As you can read in my new book...''
Wizard
  • Has met Mr. Knuth on a congress of typesetting.
  • Has collaborated with Mr. Knuth in publishing a paper.
  • Keeps the world's record in the usage of \futurelet.
  • Doesn't fix bugs in dvi drivers, but writes own instead of.
  • Writes document styles during his lunch.
  • Has designed a new font to make his thesis optically unique.
  • Never reads comp.text.tex, why should he?
  • Has ported TeX to a Cray 90.
TeXpert
  • Fixes bugs in TEX.WEB.
  • Installs TeX on a Hypercube serving 256 printers simultaneously.
  • Develops a new font family for each person he writes a letter to.
  • Currently works on the problem of a perfect hyphenation in any language.
  • Corrects bad layout by patching the dvi file.
  • During weekend, writes dvi drivers for printers constructed next year.
  • Spends every Christmas with Donald and has married Leslie's daughter.

corporate | research | news | people | projects | publications | services | feedback | legal

C Matthew Curtin (original author unknown)
Last modified: Tue Dec 9 17:56:15 EST 1997