[XeTeX] The future of XeTeX

Keith J. Schultz keithjschultz at web.de
Wed Aug 1 09:32:16 CEST 2012

Hi Adam,

Yes, LuaTeX is a evolving project, especially at the lowest level.
Am 01.08.2012 um 02:54 schrieb Adam Twardoch (List) <list.adam at twardoch.com>:

> On 31.07.2012, at 13:02, Peter Dyballa <Peter_Dyballa at web.de> wrote:
>> it's questionable whether it's worth when XeTeX has reached its end of life cycle and LuaTeX is taking over – without micro-typography that seemed to have started in ConTeXt…
> I don't think this is an accurate description of the situation. In my opinion:
> 1. XeTeX is a more encapsulated, "pragmatic" system that may not be endlessly extensible and may not be suitable for arbitrarily complex projects, but it's simple to use (hey, even I can use it), is very much feature-complete in what it's supposed to do, and is very stable. For 80-90% of TeX use cases, it's the perfect system. Conceptually, it's very much like an Apple product: it does the things that it claims it does rather well, and simply doesn't do many things, but doesn't claim to do them. It's also very reasonably documented.
	XeTeX has is strength in typography, and support for languages, due to polyglossia. This is definitely missing in LuaTeX.
	Using low-level XeTeX is not at all that easy, if you do not know the TeX-way of doing things.
> 2. LuaTeX is more a "project" than a "product". Potentially, it's extremely extensible and can potentially do things that no other system practically can. But it doesn't (by its very nature) offer stability, it's evolving constantly, and while some features it claims to offer are at a "version 1.0" level, others are at a "version 0.2" level — and if you're not careful, you may not easily distinguish these. It's idealistic, ambitious but also complex. 
	LuaTeX has a very small developer base and their goal is very high. a long needed rewrite of TeX. That is a complex task.
	From the simple user side. LuaTeX is about as easy as it gets. For most purpose I can teach you all you need to know how to use Lua for TeX in 2 hours!

	Did I say 2 hours!, Well, that is only for the simple user. For the TeX Macro Package developer things are harder. That it is, you have to learn how to manipulate TeX with Lua.
	Due to the complexity of TeX that is no easy task. Especially, since the only documentation is a reference manual, that does not explain anything! So, you either know low-level
	TeX or you are out of luck.

	I think you can throw almost standard LaTeX at LuaLaTeX and that should work. That, is everything that is not dependent a encoding. It's price for unicode support and using
	fontspec. But, those ancient packages using encodings should be a thing of the past, IMHO.
> If you just need a practical tool that works and don't want to get into a developer's mind, XeTeX is a great choice. If you're creative and experimental, and want to do new things that were never attempted before, LuaTeX may be better. 
	XeTeX is really, great and I had began to love it. I did what I wanted, unicode and use of system fonts.
	Well, LuaTeX can to that to thanx to fonspec. Furthermore, due to Lua I can do the things I always wanted to do with TeX for decades!
> If LuaTeX was PythonTeX, I'd adopt it instantly. IMO, Lua was a very unfortunate choice, which seriously limits the potential usefulness, but let's leave it at that.
	I was not happy with the choice of a "odd-ball" scripting language. But, due to its simplicity it seem to me to be the perfect choice. Very easy to learn. At least
	for getting things done. I have not gotten into its advanced features. Old school programming will do!

	Python would have been nice. But, the average LaTeX user would have extreme problems. Though from the programmers side it most likely would have made things
	easier. Yet, with the evolution going on with python you open up another can of worms. Sorry, for going OT here.

	If we could get more XeTeX and its advances into LuaTeX, them everybody would be very pleased. Time will tell.


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