[XeTeX] The future of XeTeX

David Perry hospes.primus at verizon.net
Wed Aug 1 18:50:47 CEST 2012

Let me try to focus this discussion back to a more general level.  Keep 
in mind that I am a scholar and sometime font creator, not a programmer.

A great many people, myself included, must use non-Latin scripts in 
their work.  They may also need to produce typographically sophisticated 
documents for publication, using advanced font technologies.  Xe(La)TeX 
is /amazing/ in that it (along with Polyglossia) can do all of this, and 
for free, whether one wants to use AAT, Graphite, or OpenType fonts. 
Language support, thanks to Unicode, has gradually worked its way into 
current OSs; but there are still many of us who remember what a 
nightmare it was to use Greek or Cyrillic, to say nothing of Arabic or 
Devanagari, in pre-Unicode days.  Advanced typographic support is 
gradually improving in mainstream apps, but still not where I'd like to 
see it, sometimes even in high-priced software that is designed for 
professional typesetting.

Yes, there are flaws in XeTeX, e.g., in connection with Hangul support. 
  But I repeat: from the larger perspective, XeTeX is without peer in 
terms of what it lets one accomplish in multilingual, high-quality 
typesetting.  I am in awe of what Jonathan and others were able to do in 
updating TeX to meet these modern needs.

I very much hope that XeTeX will be around for a long time.  It was 
reassuring that hear that Khaled, with some help from Jonathan, will 
help XeTeX continue; I hope there are others who can help too.  But the 
bottom line is that there can be no real replacement for XeTeX without 
support for multilingual typesetting, including complex scripts.  Those 
who want to develop new flavors of TeX are welcome to do so, and maybe 
someday one of them will have evolved to the point where it can replace 
Xe(La)TeX.  That may be a good thing, but I suspect it's a long way off.


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