[XeTeX] First experiences with xetex and some bugs

Jonathan Kew jonathan_kew at sil.org
Sun Jul 4 18:48:59 CEST 2004

On 4 Jul 2004, at 1:07 pm, Steffen Prohaska wrote:

> Hi,
> Yesterday I installed xetex. After playing a little bit I might have 
> to decide
> not to use it now, though I really love the possibility of using 
> different
> fonts in a really simple way. I briefly want to summarize why I came 
> to this
> conclusion.
> First of all some bugs make it just unusable for me. These might be 
> fixed soon
> and are not the main reason of my decision.
> 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.

As pointed out in other messages, this is not really true: (a) if you 
continue using the same legacy fonts, then the same legacy files should 
work; and (b) if you want to use Unicode fonts with legacy documents, 
it is possible to redefine the accent macros and other "special 
character" commands. They're just TeX macros that access particular 
characters in the fonts.

(Quotes and dashes are trickier in that they require "active character" 
coding if you want to simulate the ligatures of the CM fonts.)

> I'd like to continue using Yandy's mathtimes or Thierry Bouche's 
> mathfont.sty,
> http://www.ntg.nl/maps/pdf/21_18.pdf . But neither work with xetex. I 
> read on
> the mailinglist that xetex is focused on typesetting text only. If 
> this will
> be the only focus in the future I think this would be a major problem 
> for most
> of the TeX users. I still use TeX especially because of the simplicity 
> of using
> math. But the math fonts have to follow the other fonts at least to 
> some extent.
> If xetex doesn't provide a way this will be a show stopper for me.

I don't have these fonts/packages, so cannot try them. I suspect that 
if the fonts were converted to .otf format, similarly to the CM and 
other fonts bundled with XeTeX, it would be possible to use them just 
like the CM fonts.

> Below please find summaries of the first most apparent bugs I found.

Thanks for these helpful reports.

>     Have a great day,
>         Steffen
> ---+ Bug: Including pdf images
> ---++ Quick Summary
> Including certain pdf images breaks font rendering starting with the 
> next page.
> See the attached test document and the output files created using 
> pdflatex and
> xelatex.

This problem seems to occur when using a PDF that was created by 
Quartz, but not with other PDFs such as from Distiller. Any PDF experts 
here who can inspect the test.pdf file and tell us if it is somehow 
invalid? It sounds like there may be a problem with Quartz PDF 
generation; if we can pin down exactly what's wrong, I'll file a bug 
report with Apple.

> ---+ Problem: \graphicspath
> ---++ Quick Summary
> \graphicspath works different in xetex and pdftex. See the attached 
> test document.

In XeTeX, the \XeTeXpdffile command looks for the given file relative 
to the location of the current TeX input file. So the second test, 
which \input's the file "gfx/test.tex", then looks relative to that 
file; but I assume \graphicspath prefixes "gfx/" to the name given, so 
it ends up looking for "gfx/gfx/test.pdf", relative to the top-level 
file, and of course that path doesn't exist.

I'm guessing based on this example that pdfTeX always looks for 
graphics files relative to the top-level input file instead. Can others 
confirm this, and tell me whether I should change the behavior in 

> ---+ Bug: Installation Script w/ Fink
> ---++ Quick Summary
> The preflight script doesn't detect a fink installation if 'which 
> kpsewhich' is
> working.

Thanks for this; I'll try to take it into account.


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