[XeTeX] Whitespace in input

Zdenek Wagner zdenek.wagner at gmail.com
Fri Nov 18 11:18:17 CET 2011

2011/11/18 Keith J. Schultz <keithjschultz at web.de>:
> Hi Pihilip,
> Thoughout, my programming life and experience I have learned
> that internal structure means nothing, as long as the result is correct
> when it comes out.
> As you rightfully point out the problem lies inside how TeX internally
> handles space characters when adding them to its internal structure.
> The fact is that initially, TeX was not designed to handle modern typesetting
> well. (Xe)TeX's internals are partially quite outdated. It is possible to to handle
> all this "new" type of spaces in (Xe)TeX, yet it is quite awkward and you have to be
> a TeXchian to do it properly.
> My personal opinion is that TeX et al. has to be revamped completely. Ideally, it should get
> a natural language parser as a front end and the typesetting module as its back-end for its
> output.
I admit that things could be done better than in nowadays TeX but its
complete revamping seems to me as bad investment. I would rather think
of an FO processor.

> Yes, I know this would not be TeX any more and require a complete different structure of the
> TeX eco-system. Language modules and the like. I you care to discuss this we cam back channel
> as it would be to OT, here.
> regards
>        Keith.
> Am 17.11.2011 um 20:56 schrieb Philip TAYLOR:
>> Ross, I do not dispute your arguments : I was answering
>> Keith's question in an honest way.  I (personally) do not
>> think of a space in TeX output as a character at all,
>> because I am steeped in TeX philosophy; but I am quite
>> willing to accept that /if/ the objective is not to
>> produce output for the sake of output, but output for
>> subsequent processing as input by another program, then
>> there /may/ be an argument for outputting a space as a
>> variable-width glyph.
>> However, I do think that what appears in the output stream
>> is a secondary consideration; far more important (IMHO) is
>> how we represent that space /within XeTeX/.  There is, I am
>> sure, not a suggestion on the table that we start to treat
>> a conventional space in XeTeX other than as TeX has traditionally
>> treated it, and therefore the real question is (to my mind),
>> "do we adopt an extension of this traditional TeX treatment
>> for non-breaking space, thin-space, and any of the other
>> not-quite-standard spaces that Unicode encompasses, or do
>> we look for an alternative model which /might/ be glyph-
>> or character-based ?".
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Zdeněk Wagner

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