Suggested feature: Portable document archive

Henri Menke henrimenke at
Mon Dec 30 00:07:28 CET 2019

On Linux you can mount a zip archive with fuse-zip [1] as a read-write
filesystem and you can organize the files inside to your liking.

It is also available on macOS [2] but this approach won't work on
Windows because of their stupid concept of drive letters instead of
mount points.

So for users of Unix-like systems this is a solved problem.


On 12/28/19 9:35 AM, Simon Heisterkamp wrote:
> Hi all,
> I'm new here. Please excuse any breach of etiquette.
> I'm the author of the MikteX feature suggestion 424:
> reproduced below in full for your convenience. My proposal is to do the
> same for texlive and I would like a discussion about how people would feel
> about such a feature. I am open to contributing to the effort but would
> likely need substantial support from experience developers of tex-live.
> Thoughts, comments?
> Best wishes and happy holidays,
> Simon
> Full text of MikteX feature suggestion 424:
> The MS Word .docx format is actually a zip archive with xml files and
> folders for resources such as pictures. The idea here is to do the same for
> .tex sources.
> Call the archive something like .pta (portable Tex archive), and support
> creating, opening editing and typesetting this file directly from MikTeX
> (and tex-live).
> Proposed properties:
>     - a zip archive with all sources necessary to typeset a TeX document.
>     - renamed to something other than .zip to discourage non-technical users
>     from editing directly. Suggestion: .pta
>     - MikTeX (and tex-live) support for working with this file directly.
>     (like MS Word works with .docx archives) In particular guarantee that the
>     archive can always be typeset again after moving and copying to another
>     installation of MikTeX (and tex-live).
>     - Use a somewhat strict structure for names and locations inside the
>     archive. This will simplify development of the feature. Unsupported uses
>     can always fall back to ordinary .tex source files.
>     - a “make-file” (inside the archive) for standardized typesetting with
>     one click - no setup required at all by users who only want to make minor
>     changes to a document.
>     - archive can contain non-standard dependencies, i.e. packages,
>     pictures, styles.
>     - archive can contain the typeset pdf document. Costs extra size file,
>     but gains accessibility. This makes it very easy to write “viewer”
>     applications for every conceivable system out there - they simply pull the
>     pdf out of the archive.
> Use cases:
>     - non-technical persons are comfortable with a document being one file.
>     - file can be copied and moved around while maintaining a guarantee that
>     it can be typeset when needed.
>     - this could greatly assist in spreading the use of latex outside of
>     technical academic fields.
> Aspects that need more thought:
>     - when editing creates typesetting errors, the archive could maintain a
>     "last successfully typeset" pdf for the viewers, alternatively it could
>     present a "corrupted" pdf file. Another approach could be to forbid saving
>     to the archive format if the document cannot be typeset.
> Feel free to use and share this idea however you want. I don’t have the
> time to develop this myself, but would love to use the feature at the
> engineering company where I work.
> Best regards,
> Simon

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