[XeTeX] XeTeX and TeX documentation

Jonathan Kew jonathan_kew at sil.org
Sun Aug 6 00:40:16 CEST 2006

On 5 Aug 2006, at 10:13 pm, Joshua Grauman wrote:

> Thanks for all your help so far. I've basically got everything  
> working.
> It's just a matter of figuring out how to lay out my document now, and
> being basically new to TeX I've got to start at the beginning. So  
> maybe an
> answer to a few quick questions will help point me in the right  
> direction.
> Background- Some things I need to do: Put in section dividers, chapter
> dividers, headers (with section and chapter info), paragraph  
> footnotes,
> table of context, other basic formatting... My setup: I uninstalled  
> all
> versions of TeX and installed teTeX 3.0 straight from source. That  
> is all
> I had installed before I installed XeTeX.
> I'm not sure where to look for documentation. I guess my main  
> problem is
> I'm not exactly sure what version of TeX XeTeX is based upon.

XeTeX is based on e-TeX, which in turn is an extended (but nowadays  
"standard" version) of the original TeX.

> I presume
> that xelatex takes LaTeX input.

Yes. Note that there are a couple of xelatex-specific "packages" that  
are helpful for integrating XeTeX font support with LaTeX documents;  
check out xunicode and fontspec.

> What about the xetex command? Is it based
> upon ConTeXt or is it it's own?

"xetex" by itself gives you the XeTeX program with the "Plain TeX"  
macros, as documented in The TeXbook.

It is also possible to use ConTeXt macros with XeTeX, but I don't  
provide a pre-built "xecontext" format by default; there are others  
on the mailing list who use it, though.

> Where do I find documentation?

For the XeTeX extensions to (e)TeX, there isn't much... mainly the  
"XeTeX notes" file (look in the Samples archive from the web site, if  
you haven't found that yet), Will Robertson's summary guide (check  
the mail list archives; he posted it a little while back), and the  
various example files that illustrate different features. But mostly,  
you need to learn about using TeX (or LaTeX or ConTeXt or whatever)  
to format a document, which is independent of whether the underlying  
"engine" is xetex or pdftex or....

Your document sounds like one that would fit well with LaTeX, and  
that's the most widely-known and documented "dialect" of TeX, so may  
be a good place to start. There are a variety of books and online  
resources (Google is your friend!) available, and there's the TeX  
Users Group (http://tug.org/) where you can find lots of links (start  
with the "Getting started" page).

One challenge may be adapting the overall page layout for a primarily  
right-to-left document, as most standard macros and packages assume  
left-to-right orientation. It can certainly be done, but the support  
won't generally be "built-in" to existing document styles.

> What
> commands and macros are available? Does XeTeX merely add commands  
> to an
> existing system, and all the available macros/etc from that system  
> will
> still work?

Yes, essentially. The main things that may *not* continue to work are  
those that are dependent on a specific "output driver", such as  
drawing macros that rely on inserting literal fragments of PostScript  
code, or deal with the individual bytes of legacy 8-bit encodings  
(replaced by Unicode in XeTeX).

> As a side note, I'd like to be able to change the hyphenation (correct
> terminology?) for my document. I would like xetex to break up words  
> after
> the maqqef and not just wrap by spaces. How would I go about this?

One way to achieve this, noting that maqqef is Unicode character U 
+05BE, would be to make this an "active character" and program it to  
insert a discretionary break after itself. Something like this:

   \catcode"05BE = \active

(The use of uppercase "05BE" and lowercase "05be" here is deliberate  
and required!)



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