After several years of using LaTeX for various reports and lab write-ups, I feel that I've got a pretty comfortable set-up going. This is a far-cry from freshman year, when I spent entire nights in the computer lab (didn't have a laptop back then) trying to figure out why my document in Emacs wasn't compiling (it was inevitably because of a single misplaced symbol).

Perhaps due to the steep learning curve, I find that I am one of only a few engineers who use LaTeX regularly. Everyone else seems determined to stick to Microsoft Word, or, at best, LibreOffice Writer.

For general purposes, I have a document called report_prototypes.tex that includes several other files.

  1. The first file is called custom_headings_1.tex, which contains a lot of general preamble stuff.
  2. The second file is called graphics_1.tex, which contains exactly one thing: a command to generate an image page divider. It's pretty useless for now.
  3. The third file is called proofs_headings_1.tex, which contains stuff related to mathematical proofs.

It's a fine setup, and I've even got it working on both Windows and Linux using the ifplatform package:

[sourcecode language="latex"]

However, today I ran into a problem. The subfig package I've included as part of custom_headings_1.tex has been deprecated; in fact, it's been deprecated since mid-2011, and I simply hadn't known about it. The new package, subcaption, has much more sensible syntax.

Long story short, I eagerly changed custom_headings_1.tex to use the new package, before I realized that this can't be done. The problem is that all of my old documents are dependent on custom_headings_1.tex and its subfig package. If I change it, the old documents would no longer compile. Therefore I had no choice but to create a new custom_headings_2.tex file to accomodate this tiny update. Of course, every time I make an update in the future, I'll have to create a new headings file while making sure I don't lose the old ones.

In some ways this is really unavoidable. The current situation still beats including local copies of headings files with every new document by a long shot. However, it's an inconvenience I hadn't thought about when I first came up with the method of including shared headings files. It just goes to show that the best-laid plans can be stymied, or at least inconvenienced, by the smallest obstacles.