[texworks] Lost Going Native -- Solved! Thank you!

Charlie Sharpsteen chuck at sharpsteen.net
Wed Feb 22 19:43:37 CET 2012

On Wed, Feb 22, 2012 at 7:37 AM, Adam Frank <phil.math.logic at gmail.com>wrote:

> So Charlie Sharpsteen nailed it, thank you--so very much and if you're in
> New York I'll buy you beer!
> However I am just a little curious about these other features under the
> Typeset menu which I haven't explored:  LaTeXmk, XeTeX, and so on.  How are
> they different from pdfLaTeX and why does the former still not work though
> I've downloaded and installed latexmk?  Not a pressing question, so if it's
> douchey of me to ask potentially difficult-to-explain questions after my
> problem has been solved, I humbly withdraw.

This question can run deep, but here's the short version. PdfLaTeX is a
program that reads a TeX file, interpretes all the commands, and then
produces a PDF file. XeLaTeX and LuaLaTeX are two programs that do the same
thing but are under active development and have some more "modern"
features. The most notable additions are that XeLaTeX and LuaLaTeX are not
restricted to a special set of "TeX Fonts" but can access any font that is
installed on your system and that they can accept UTF-8 input which is a
tremendous leap forward for non-english speakers who don't use the latin

BibTeX and MakeIndex are programs that are used to assembly the
bibliography and index for a document. Usually the workflow for this
operation requires running the TeX compiler in order to generate the list
of required references, the auxiliary program to create those references,
then the TeX compiler again to import the created references and then the
TeX compiler yet again to fill out all the cross-references in the text.

  Run PdfLaTeX/LuaLaTeX/XeLaTeX (the TeX compiler) -> Run BibTeX and/or
Makeindex -> Run the TeX compiler -> Run the TeX compiler yet again

This can be tedious, so people write scripts like latexmk that
automatically figure out what needs to be run in what order and how many

For a complete look at what goes on behind the curtain, take a look at Arno
Trautmann's illustrated essay "An overview of TEX, its children and their


This contains info on most TeX-related programs, what they do, their
history and how they relate to other programs.

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