[XeTeX] The future of XeTeX

Adam Twardoch (List) list.adam at twardoch.com
Mon Jul 30 22:05:31 CEST 2012

On 12-07-30 21:00, Zdenek Wagner wrote:
>> The question is: is it
>> easier to find a volunteer for maintaining XeTeX or a volunteer who
>> will implement missing features for luaotfload and port important
>> packages as Polyglossia to luatex?
It is definitely easier to replace the ICU Layout integration in XeTeX
with HarfBuzz integration, and to tweak the XeTeX code to potentially
remove the native Mac OS X font engine integration (or at least make it
optional) than to write full-scale OpenType Layout shapers in Lua from
scratch. HarfBuzz is still not perfect but it definitely developing
towards becoming the only sensible OpenType Layout engine within the
open-source realm. Developing some of the shapers, especially for Indic
languages, is not trivial per se (it is taking the HarfBuzz developers
quite a long time, and it is after all an intensive effort). Doing
everything from scratch in Lua will be a similarly long-winded effort:
Lua is not a very popular language, and even if an complete OTL solution
is created in Lua some day, it will need maintenance.

The great thing about the XeTeX concept is that it doesn't try to do
everything itself. It uses the best available components to do the
heavy-lifting. When Jonathan Kew created it, ICU Layout was the best
OpenType Layout library available. Soon, HarfBuzz will be the best one,
guaranteed to be maintained.

As I've written on this list previously, integrating HarfBuzz into XeTeX
(as an alternative to the existing engines, i.e. ICU Layout, Graphite 1
and ATSUI) would be very desirable. I think such a project could be
funded by some of the existing TeX groups.



May success attend your efforts,
-- Adam Twardoch
(Remove "list." from e-mail address to contact me directly.)

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