[XeTeX] The future of XeTeX

Yannis Haralambous yannis.haralambous at telecom-bretagne.eu
Wed Aug 1 12:18:48 CEST 2012

This has been a very long threat and I admit not having read all mails. But I can resist
sharing my opinion with you.

LuaTeX and XeTeX use two quite different strategies and therefore address different
user communities: the former follows Knuth's philosophy of TeX being independent of
other technologies and provides a powerful tool for keeping complete control of typesetting;
the latter uses external facilities on the operating system level. The former will be used by
courageous people wanting to do any kind of task, from simple to extremely complex;
the latter will be used by people wanting a quick and reliable solution to standard problems.
Typically, imagine I want to do Arabic with different contextual rules (for any reason). With
LuaTeX it is possible, with XeTeX, AFAIK, I cannot be done. But, on the other hand, if
there is some beautiful font on my system which I want to use, it is infinitely easier to use
it with XeTeX than with any other kind of TeX.

But there are also political issues: LuaTeX is developed by a team focusing on ConTeXt.
LaTeX users will always be neglected, at least that is the feeling I have (Taco is very kind
and helpful but he is paid for a specific task, and LaTeX is not part of it).

What about the future? The ideal thing would be to merge them by having two branches of
data flow: one that goes through the operating system, one that is handled by Lua. (Something
similar happened with OTPs, which from Omega have migrated to LuaTeX, I don't wether they
are still there, but at some earlier versions of LuaTeX they were still operational.) The solution
is quite artificial but at least the XeTeX part would survive and maybe some day somebody
would do a real merge and have Lua control the interaction with the operating system.



Yannis Haralambous
Directeur d'études
Institut Mines-Télécom, Télécom Bretagne
Département Informatique
Technopôle Brest Iroise
CS 83818, 29238 Brest Cedex 3, France
Tel: +33 2 29 00 14 27
Fax: +33 2 29 00 12 82
Email: yannis.haralambous at telecom-bretagne.eu
Internet: http://omega.enstb.org/yannis
ICBM address: 48°21'31.57"N 4°34'16.76"W
Twitter: y_haralambous
...pour distinguer l'extérieur d'un aquarium,
mieux vaut n'être pas poisson

...the ball I threw while playing in the park
has not yet reached the ground

Es gab eine Zeit, wo ich nur ungern über Schubert sprechen,
nur Nächtens den Bäumen und Sternen von ihm vorerzählen mögen.

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