[XeTeX] First experiences with xetex and some bugs

Somadevah at aol.com Somadevah at aol.com
Sun Jul 4 16:24:16 CEST 2004

In a message dated 4/7/04 1:37:33 pm, prohaska at zib.de writes:

> A design decision made in xetex is to completely switch to unicode and
> don't
> support any old tex encoding. The changes in the encoding of quotes
> (''),
> dashes (--), special characters (\"a, \"o) etc. make it really hard to
> switch.
> You either have to recode all your input files or you can't use xetex.

I believe there are at least two fairly simple solutions to this problem. 

(1) You can use a Perl filter or shell script to convert your legacy files. 
This depends on the text editor you use, for BBEdit you could use something 

#use utf8;
print   "$_";

If you use a Cocoa text editor such as SubEthaEdit you can do the same with 
the TextExtras service to put a conversion script into the menu bar of any 
Cocoa app.:

#! /bin/sh
# Converts legacy TeX abbreviations to UTF-8
# -- TextExtras User Script Info --
# %%%{TEName=Legacy to utf-8}%%%
# %%%{TEInput=Selection}%%%
# %%%{TEOutput=ReplaceSelection}%%%
# %%%{TEKeyEquivalent=@8}%%%
# %%%{TEArgument=-c}%%%
# Start with the standard input
INPUT=`cat -`
# Comment
     OUTPUT=`echo "${INPUT}" | sed -e 's/\\"a/ä/g;s/\\"u/ü/g;s/\\"o/ö/g;s/--/–
echo -n "%%%{TESelection}%%%"
echo "${OUTPUT}"
echo -n "%%%{TESelection}%%%"

(2) You can redefine the commands \", \= etc. and turn quotation marks into 
active chararacters (which effectively makes them commands). Much of this has 
already been discussed on this list. For instance, to get ` and ' to produce 
styled quotation marks you can say:
\font\testfont="Zapfino" at 12pt
This is a `test'.

To get double quotes you need to do a test as can be seen on TeXbook page 

I hope this might convince you that XeTeX is not inherently incompatible with 
legacy TeX abbreviations.

Rather than urging Jonathan to implement this stuff in XeTeX directly one can 
just put it all into a style file tailored to one's needs. Much of this will 
also remain language and font dependent. I would much rather see Jonathan add 
margin kerning and some kind direct access to override Adobe's rather 
inadequate Opentype ligature mechanism.


Somadeva Vasudeva
Wolfson College
Oxford OX2 6UD
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