[OS X TeX] Replace LaTeX????

Joachim Kock jkock at ya.com
Wed Feb 16 01:52:43 CET 2005

I reproduce Lars Hellström's quick reply on the Alpha users' list
to the query about Alpha's .dtx support.  He quotes an old posting
from the mail archives, which I found was a nice introduction to
the ideas of dtx and literate programming, and which I think may
be of interest also to the readers of the OSX-TeX mailing list...

Cheers, Joachim.


>>You could hasten my decision if you tell me that [AlphaX] supports
>>nice editing of .dtx files...is this the case? AUCTeX is pretty nice
>>in this regard, but I can still see room for improvement.
>Anybody knows about this?

This probably depends on what one's expectations are. The only text editor
I use is Alpha and I write pretty much all my code in the form of .dtx
files, so I find the facilities available nice for this combination. OTOH
the only standard commands I make particular use of for .dtx files are
"Comment Line" and "Uncomment Line", so I suppose it is possible to argue
that Alpha doesn't offer much of active support for this.

One of the things I suppose users might want to have is code colouring that
reflects the .dtx file catcodes rather than the normal TeX catcodes. The
"minor mode" feature recently added to Alpha would make this possible (and
the -begin option of the RFE #1794 Craig just filed on Bugzilla could be
useful for this too), but there is to my knowledge no definition of such a
minor mode in AlphaTcl. Yet.

The matter gets trickier if you want colouring for .dtx files where the
"code" is not TeX, since then one would essentially be mixing two or more
modes in the same file. Back in the days of the ALPHA-D mailing list I
wrote a bit on that subject, and that can be read at


Perhaps time has now caught up with some of the ideas in there? (I honestly
don't remember; it was four years ago.)

However if your interest is not primarily in looking at code, but rather in
executing it, then Alpha can provide quite a lot of support. The "EE" menu
(not part of AlphaTcl, but available from CTAN in


) lets you select a part of a .dtx file and send the code but not the
comments in that selection to an interpreter for evaluation. This is
extremely handy when one is developing.

Lars Hellström
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