[OS X TeX] latex and xelatex

Alan Munn amunn at gmx.com
Tue Mar 16 18:42:23 CET 2010

On Mar 16, 2010, at 11:00 AM, David Messerschmitt wrote:

>> I don't really see how it helps anyone to have this proliferation  
>> of (la)tex implementations with differing abilities.
> I assume the issue here is whether merging the versions could be  
> done transparently, that is, without breaking some people's existing  
> documents, scripts, etc.
> Of course merging would have the advantage of making document  
> sharing smoother. It seems like one of those "rock and a hard place"  
> issues:
> The problems that prevent smooth merging are the very same problems  
> that get in the way of document sharing.

This is the one big issue with respect to XeTeX: by allowing full  
access to system installed fonts (as opposed to TeX installed fonts)  
it brings back the whole problem of incompatible fonts across  
different OS's; of course there are some open source OpenType fonts  
available for all systems (e.g. TeX Gyre), but in general, users won't  
have these fonts.

Also, even with a particular OS, most users may be unaware of the  
sources of their system fonts.  My machines all have MS Office and  
Adobe CS3 on them, and I have a lot of fonts available that other Mac  
users may not have if they have neither of those packages.  I have  
some sense of the Adobe fonts, but not much of the MS fonts, with  
respect which actually came with my Mac and which didn't.

In practice, then, a xetex document created on on system will not  
necessarily be portable to another system; in regular latex this is  
rarely a problem.  (Although perhaps only due to the fact that adding  
new fonts to a TeX distribution is such a PITA that most people just  
put up with the few that are available.)

For this reason, I haven't made a full switch to xetex, although I use  
it for certain things where I want a more interesting font selection.  
(And distributing source is not a problem.)


Alan Munn
amunn at gmx.com

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