[texworks] Beginners' needs (was: Lua scripting)

David J. Perry hospes.primus at verizon.net
Fri Jun 19 05:51:35 CEST 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Manuel Pégourié-Gonnard" <mpg at elzevir.fr>
> So, isn't it a problem that the user must select the typesetting mode 
> before he
> can actually use TeXworks?

Yes, this is a problem.

> 1. Implement an 'auto' mode that tries to guess.
Good idea.

> 2. Make pdflatex the default. I'm afraid many won't agree, but here is the
> argument: people who come to TeX without knowing the about the various 
> engine
> and formats generally want to use LaTeX. People who come to TeX for XeTeX
> generally *know* what XeTeX is and why they want it, and I guess the same 
> is
> true for context users.

I'm not sure why they would want LaTeX if they don't know about it.  In 
addition, I think there are two other important issues here.

1. Fonts.  I don't think people will be happy to find out that they have 
only a very few fonts to choose from (the computer modern fonts) or that 
they have to jump through a bunch of hoops to add more fonts, and even then 
can't use all the fonts they are accustomed to on their system. 
(Somebody--maybe Robert Bringhurst--remarked that it's better to have a few 
high quality fonts and learn how to use them to best effect; and I agree. 
But users are accustomed to having lots and lots of fonts these days.)

2. Language issues.  All OS versions since Win98 and Mac OS X (2001) turn 
out Unicode text.  (I don't know about Linux.)  Users are accustomed to 
typing in their own language and/or switching easily among languages.  I've 
never tried it, but I think that LaTeX will not process Unicode well. 
Using LaTeX, people will have to find and install older packages for 
Cyrillic, Hebrew, whatever, and the keyboard probably won't work as 
expected.  Surely it's pointless to ask beginners who don't use a western 
European language to give up the convenience of Unicode that they are 
accustomed to if they have a relatively new machine.

Both of these items would suggest XeTeX as the default.  If we make LaTeX 
the default, then we have to provide guidance about installing fonts and 
using languages other than English, which is another burden for TeXworks. 
With XeTeX, a very small amount of guidance about fontspec will suffice for 

> Manuel. 

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