[OS X TeX] Single-stepping through TeX

Ross Moore ross.moore at mq.edu.au
Fri Nov 18 22:53:59 CET 2011

Hello Doug,

On 19/11/2011, at 6:47 AM, Doug McKenna wrote:

> Is there any way to single-step through a very simple TeX execution 
> (after inputing the plain format), in order to watch with a debugger how 
> it operates?  

Not stepping through with a debugger.
But you can see how the macro-expansion functions,
and more detailed results from other aspects of the processing.

Just put  \tracingall  into you document source.

Beware that it can produce masses of output.
So to limit this to a specific portion of your source,
use braces as delimiters:

{\tracingall  ....  }

> Preferably using the XCode environment that in turn depends 
> on gdb.
> I've got TeXLive 2010 installed, with the 2011 disk available.
> Although there's a directory in the distribution tree for web2c, I can't 
> find any executables or sources or directions that make it easy (no doubt 
> for some value of "easy") to convert TeX's source code into final 
> runnable C code for the command line program "tex".
> Searching the web hasn't helped much either, except to make clear that 
> the endeavor looks completely frought and complex.

It certainly is.

Maybe if you state just what is the problem you want to solve,
then those with sufficient experience can help you.

> Thanks.
> Doug McKenna

For more information, consult "The TeXBook"
and/or another similar book by Don Knuth:  "TeX, The Program".

Hope this helps,


Ross Moore                                       ross.moore at mq.edu.au 
Mathematics Department                           office: E7A-419      
Macquarie University                             tel: +61 (0)2 9850 8955
Sydney, Australia  2109                          fax: +61 (0)2 9850 8114

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