[XeTeX] The future of XeTeX

Zdenek Wagner zdenek.wagner at gmail.com
Mon Jul 30 23:26:50 CEST 2012

2012/7/30 Philip TAYLOR <P.Taylor at rhul.ac.uk>:
> Zdenek Wagner wrote:
>> If only Unicode support and access to system fonts are concerned, a
>> replacement already exists, namely luatex.
> I have held back from experimenting with LuaTeX because I have
> been led to believe, from this list and elsewhere, that LuaTeX
> and XeTeX are not in 1:1 correspondence in terms of the syntax
> and semantics of some non-Lua-related features.  Are you able
> to comment on this from a position of knowledge ?  Or, from the
> converse perspective, would you be able to assure me and others
> that all extant XeTeX code will execute in LuaTeX without error
> and produce a PDF that is visually indistinguishable from the
> PDF that XeTeX would produce using the same source ?
No, it won't. What is already ported is the fontspec package so that
the font selection macros from the users point of view are (almost)
portable between XeLaTeX and LuaLaTeX. XeTeX can do a lot using TECkit
maps. They are not available in luatex, but an equivalent feature
could be implemented in lua. Switching from XeTeX to luatex will not
be easy, so if somebody decides to maintain XeTeX, it will be
certainly better. However, I should mention that XeTeX files are not
that portable. A few years ago I developed a set of macros for
typesetting the Prague Bulletin of Mathematical Linguistics. The
editor asked me to help them with the first issue using these macros
(and with conversion of a few manuscripts from Word to TeX). I did it
in Linux, they used Mac. They had a different version of DejaVu fonts
and the result was that on my computer the issue was one page shorter.
Finally they had to use my version because at that time XeTeX had
Macintosh specific bug and the document did not compile. Later they
found that fi and fl ligatures in DejaVu fonts on Mac are missing but
are present on my Linux computer. They had newer version so finally
they decided to downgrade their DejaVu fonts to the same version as my
Linux version. I have different Linux versions on my computers and in
some of them the Nafees fonts do not work properly. Anyway, XeTeX is a
useful and powerful tool but you should be aware of such problems.

> Philip Taylor
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Zdeněk Wagner

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