[texhax] [NTG-context] Choosing TeX um ... stuff

Mojca Miklavec mojca.miklavec.lists at gmail.com
Wed Nov 17 22:38:48 CET 2010

On Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 22:23, Peter Davis <pfd at pfdstudio.com> wrote:
> I've been on the periphery of TeX for years, as a casual user of LaTeX and
> also as an implementer of publishing software.  However, I'm afraid I
> haven't kept in as close touch as I'd like, and now I find myself trying to
> absorb a lot in a short time.  I'm trying to choose what software to use in
> building an XML->TeX workflow.
> I'd appreciate any help with the following questions:
> True or False: TeX can be categorized along three orthogonal axes:
> by format (plain TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, others?)

In general true, just a tiny detail; ConTeXt has several formats:
- English (cont-en), Dutch (cont-nl), German (cont-de), ... [not too
interesting to you, I guess ...]
- ConTeXt MKII and ConTeXt MKIV are somehow different formats, but
that distinction is already made on the engine basis

There are other formats like cstex, cslatex, ..., but they are not too

> by implementation (web2c, pdfTeX/pdfLaTeX, LuaTeX, others?)

No, that is called "by engine": tex, pdftex, xetex, luatex are the
most important ones. Others not too important are known (ptex, ...)

MikTeX and TeX Live are not compatible, but I'm not sure how to classify that.

> by distribution (MikTeX, TeXLive, MacTeX, others?)

MacTeX is basically TeX Live, repackaged for Mac in a more
user-friendly way. Another important distribution for ConTeXt users is
"ConTeXt Minimals". There are many other distributions (w32tex, ...),
many of them obsolete by now (gwTeX, tetex, emtex, fptex, ...). The
most important ones are just MikTeX and TeX Live (including MacTeX),
plus minimals for ConTeXt users.

> I was going to use plain
> TeX, but it seems a lot of features like placing text boxes and graphics
> anywhere, using system fonts, etc. are more available for LaTeX and ConTeXt.

Using system fonts depends on engine. Only XeTeX and LuaTeX allow
that. You can use any system font with plain XeTeX, but it's slightly
easier to access the fonts with LaTeX and ConTeXt. (But if you
generate the output automatically, it hardly makes a difference.)

ConTeXt makes an enormous difference in layout issues.


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