[XeTeX] [tex-live] XeTeX/TeX Live : Setting the default language

Reinhard Kotucha reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Fri Nov 4 21:09:06 CET 2011

On 2011-11-04 at 10:21:41 +0000, Philip TAYLOR (Webmaster, Ret'd) wrote:

 > Suggestion for TeX Live installation 2012 :
 > Ask the user for his or preferred language setting,
 > and make that the default.

That would break many existing documents.  At least those written in
US English.

The information in which language a document is written and which
input encoding is used has to be specified within a document
unconditionally.  Everything else would make documents unportable.
Therefore, and because TeX Live is a multi-user system, such a default
is not useful.

I also regard the default setting we already have rather as a fallback
than a default, though even a fallback doesn't make sense here.  The
default setting was simply inherited from Knuth's TeX.

As far as paper size is concerned, as mentioned by Matthew Skala, this
information belongs into each document too.  However, there are some
situations where default settings can be useful though, for instance
if you exchange TeX source files with Americans.  However, this
requires a well designed page layout which yields good results on
both, A4 and letter paper.

But this is an exception.  In all other cases documents should be
self-contained, i.e. provide all information needed to compile them.
Since you are also typesetting documents in other languages than
"British", I suppose that changing the default language just saves you
one line of code in _some_ of your documents.  But more important, in
TeX Live there is no reasonable way to provide different defaults for
different users.  The only way to do that is to provide per-user
format files, but this would cause more problems than it solves.  Bad
enough that we can't prevent users from creating them accidentally.


Reinhard Kotucha                                      Phone: +49-511-3373112
Marschnerstr. 25
D-30167 Hannover                              mailto:reinhard.kotucha at web.de
Microsoft isn't the answer. Microsoft is the question, and the answer is NO.

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