[XeTeX] which TeX-based software

Wilfred van Rooijen wvanrooijen at yahoo.com
Sat Apr 28 03:27:17 CEST 2018

Allow me to contribute my two cents to the discussion.
First, it is my experience, and I also always tell my students, the following: "if you have something you want to typeset with LaTeX, somebody else has wanted that a long time ago, and yet someone else will have written a package for it". Thus, if you can find the correct package....... (obviously, that last step is not always easy and the package not always does exactly what you want).
Second, about unicode, my experiences are mixed. I use Japanese as my main language of communication. I found that "plain XeLaTeX" is not really adequate for Japanese as it lacks many common features; LuaLaTeX performs better, but still not as good as the pre-UTF-8 special "Japanese LaTeX" called "platex". In other words, even if XeLaTeX can typeset all unicode characters, you still need proper fonts, and special typesetting (such as indents, hyphenation rules, etc) may not be perfect.
If you are looking for something which based on TeX but closer to DTP software, check out ConTeXt. ConTeXt has been used for many complex, professional typesetting jobs, and the developers are very active in trying to find new solutions if needed. IIRC the current version of ConTeXt supports at least LuaLaTeX which provides support for UTF-8:
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Another option is to check out the memoir class. The manual is intimidating (500+ pages) but it will do almost anything you want. 

Personally, for basic English-language document, I use pdfLaTeX + memoir class; for Japanese, I use LuaLaTeX + ltjsbook (or ltjsarticle) class.
If you have many complicated typesetting issues in one document, you can also break down the document into individual tex files and glue everything together with pdftk or something similar. Only the management of the references etc becomes a bit of a problem.

    On Friday, April 27, 2018 11:58 PM, David J. Perry <hospes.primus at verizon.net> wrote:

  Unless you have the mindset of a programmer and enjoy writing everything from scratch, I would go with XeLaTeX rather than plain XeTeX.
 William's advice about gradually locating packages that will help you is good.  I have used the memoir class to typeset a fairly complex book (side margins, many tables, etc.).  Memoir gives you a lot of control over your page layout.  Its documentation is excellent and very extensive.  As is usually the case with computer stuff, power = complexity; you might want to work for a bit with one of the simpler classes to get the hang of how things are done in XeLaTex before plunging into learning memoir (or koma, which I don't have experience with).  
 On 4/26/2018 8:20 AM, Carrs wrote:
Hi, a newbie question. I would like advice on which TeX-based software it would be best to learn in detail for my typesetting plans. So far, I have learned a little TeX and a little LaTeX, but not enough of either to tell me which will work best for me. The features I want to be able to typeset are:
  + Roman script, in a Unicode environment. Some of the documents will have special characters, but nothing exotic. (So I am thinking XeTeX or XeLaTeX or something else Unicode-y ...)
  + handles a document with plenty of styles e.g. dictionary
  + double or single column on the page
  + can place cross references at bottom of page, or in L or R margin lined up with caller, or in text area at end of paragraph, or in text area at end of section. + plenty of illustrations of various sizes (that have to share the page with footnotes, cross references etc)
  + the range of the paragraph numbers on a page can be shown in its header + with numbered sentences, can place the number in the margin without messing up the paragraphing. Other features I am looking for:
  + runs on Linux (and preferably also on Windows and Mac) + no recurring license fees + ideally would have some pre-existing materials/courses to help me learn to use it
  If all the software can do these things, I would appreciate any recommendations you can make regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the various options there are. thanks
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