[XeTeX] The future of XeTeX

Philip TAYLOR P.Taylor at rhul.ac.uk
Wed Aug 1 09:54:38 CEST 2012

Simon Cozens wrote:

> My feeling is that it's time to accept the principle of "one to throw
> away" and finally put TeX82 out to pasture. Now we are blessed with a
> set of technologies which have proved themselves, which give great
> results on modern systems and have support for problems which were not
> even on the agenda thirty years ago. Just take your favourite scripting
> language, your favourite shaping engine, and your favourite output
> engine, stick the Knuth-Plass box-and-glue model, justification engine
> and page builder in the middle,  glue them all together, and call it
> something new.

An interesting and (intentionally) provocative post, parts of the 
analysis within which I do not agree (e.g., NFSS and virtual fonts have 
nothing to do with any real or imagined deficiencies in MetaFont), but 
the real point I want challenge is the proposal to carry the page 
builder across.  Asynchronous page breaking is one of the real 
weaknesses of TeX, preventing page breaks and paragraph format from 
interacting in any usable way.  So, throw away TeX syntax if you want to 
(personally I do not, because I have spent 25 years learning it and 
loving it) but also replace the page builder model with an alternative 
that can feed back page-breaking decisions into the paragraph-building 

Philip Taylor

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