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Finding stuff on networks used always to be difficult, but in recent years,
search engines have become amazingly good at digging out unconsidered
trifles from the myriad items of information available on the net.
However, for the (La)TeX user, confusion is added by the tendency to
index the same file at several CTAN mirror sites.
Further, the (La)TeX user usually needs the most recent version of a
package; it’s a rare search result that describes itself as obsolete!
The CTAN catalogue, several years after it was introduced, has
developed into a powerful tool for dealing with these difficulties.
It provides an entry for each package to be found on CTAN;
users may search the catalogue for an entry, or they may browse its
contents, using the catalogue’s lists of “categories” of item.
The basis of the catalogue is a collection of small, stylised,
articles; each shows basic information about a package on CTAN,
and includes pointers to download address (on a CTAN mirror),
documentation and home page if any, and related packages.
The CTAN central database machine
offers a “Browse CTAN” area, with links to the list of
packages, to a list of ‘topics’ (with packages that match each topic),
and to a list of authors (with their packages).
In addition, every CTAN mirror holds a copy of the catalogue,
presented as a series of web pages; one may scan the files in
alphabetic order, or use a category-based index. Such access is not
as “sophisticated” as that on the central site, but it served for
years before the central site appeared.
- The CTAN catalogue (on CTAN)
This answer last edited: 2014-03-17
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This is FAQ version 3.28, released on 2014-06-10.