[texworks] ConTeXt version & calling convention

Willi Egger w.egger at boede.nl
Mon Mar 7 20:33:30 CET 2011

Problably I am not abel to give you all answers but...


recently, it has been brought to my attention (off-list) why we still
have ConTeXt MKII in our standard list of tools in Tw.
Since I have practically no experience with ConTeXt, I hope someone of
you can help me here:

 * According to [1], the current version is MKIV, and it's classified as
"It's a development version and new features are being added constantly,
but it's fully usable."

This is correct.

 - So, what I'd like to know is: is MKIV the common choice nowadays,
with MKII being largely abandoned? And if so, is MKIV supported by all
major, modern TeX distros? And if so, does it work out of the box (i.e.,
I install the ConTeXt package and it works)?

Whether or not it is a common choice is difficult answer. People who are interested in the use of modern features switch to MKIV. People depending on large running projects will wait. MKIV is supported by major distibutions it is also contained on TeXlive. The crux is only, that the development at this stage is progressing quite fast. This makes it necessary to update ConTeXt frequently. Updating ConTeXt is still the easiest if one is using the Minimals.
You can not say that ConTeXt MKII is abandoned. The thing is only, that this version is frozen, except for fixing bugs.
I use MKIV sinds the early beginning always as the minimals. My experience is, that it works out of the box. Like with all fast moving targets, there can be a flaw, but be assured this will always be fixed within short notice.

I saw that Hans Hagen has sent mail to the context mailing list:

"there is a texworks directory in /context/data (and one can run texworks with "mtxrun --script texworks --start" to get a mkiv aware texworks

 * The current command line used in Tw for ConTeXt is `texmfstart
texexec <file>`.
[2] lists `texexec <file>` under the "Your 1st [...] ConTeXt document"
tutorial, but `context <file>` under "Running Mark IV". I suspect the
former is MKII? Then why doesn't it make use of `texmfstart`? But more
importantly, how does a portable way for MKIV look like? `context
<file>`? `texmfstart context <file>`?

You can use texmfstart .... in MKII. However the system understands texexec <file> and context <file>.
Some of these things were and are of transitional presence because a certain development step requires a certain approach.

MKII makes use of perl and ruby.
MKIV makes use of lua.
Because you can have MKII and MKIV living in the same texmf-context tree you can say
texexec <file> and you start ConTeXt MKII
context <file> and you start COnTeXt MKIV

See also http://wiki.contextgarden.net/Mark_IV

According to my knowledge all distro's deliver ConTeXt as a whole, thus including MKII and MKIV.

See also: http://wiki.contextgarden.net/Installation

 * The current command line used in Tw for XeConTeXt is `texmfstart
--xtx texexec <file>`.
Is there a MKIV version of XeConTeXt as well? If so, is it
stable/usable/the common choice? And if so, how to call it?

I do not have knowledge on the use of Xe...

Note that all of the above questions are intended for the average user,
not for experts. So basically someone who decides to use ConTeXt and Tw
now (or in the last few years), and has a fairly up-to-date TeX distro.


Kind regards

Willi Egger



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