[dev-context] context program, mtxrun question?

Oliver Buerschaper oliver.buerschaper at mpq.mpg.de
Wed May 21 11:27:13 CEST 2008

>> From personal experience in the middle of a project at that time I  
>> also remember a few other problems with MKII ... besides I was  
>> having the impression that for each new MKII release that didn't  
>> solve a specific bug you'd have to adapt the original workaround.
> depends, many parts are pretty stable but if you let a project  
> depend on new features ...

Well, my feeling is some buggy parts weren't all that new at that  
time ...

>> understanding is that many Perl scripts have been superseded by  
>> Ruby scripts over time, still they're shipped with current MKII  
>> minimals.
> i'm not ure what you mean here; we only keep perl scripts around for  
> stuff that is not yet redone in ruby or because soem workflows may  
> depend on it;

What I mean is that there is stuff lurking around in the minimals  
which is obsolete apart from rare (and presumably advanced) usage  
scenarios. However, this stuff makes trying to figure out the  
interdepencies of configuration files and variables quite a daunting  
task to say the least. For a suggestion on how to remedy this  
situation see my lines below.

>> Unfortunately there's no documentation about whether they could  
>> actually be deleted or whether there are still some (rare) tasks  
>> they're needed
> depends on what kind of workflows one has; also some scripts are  
> shipped that probably are used as pragma but since we use the same  
> zips for updating i keep 'm there

Don't get me wrong but this is exactly the vague kind of answers I was  
referring to in my initial posting.

As far as workflows are concerned my opinion is that keeping things  
*simple* should be the primary goal for any ConTeXt minimal  
distribution. One should agree on the simplest ConTeXt workflow  
possible and then design the minimals primarily with that idea in mind  
rather than trying to support each and every workflow under the sun  
right *out of the box*. The most common scenario will most probably be  
the average desktop user wanting to typeset a document interactively.

That said, one could collect the legacy stuff you mentioned into a  
separate package for a start and clearly mark it as such. I think this  
should be feasible on all platforms ConTeXt runs on. The benefits of  
this approach abound: less scripts, less interdependencies to worry  
about, less environment variables, sleeker minimal distributions.

Note that neither power nor flexibility would suffer: experienced TeX  
users will be able to tailor their minimals installation to meet the  
needs of an enterprise workflow anyway. If you need legacy stuff for  
old projects you extend the minimals with the appropriate component.  
If you need multiple ConTeXt trees within a web based workflow you put  
in those setuptex.tmf files and anything else that may be required.

I hope this will clarify my point of view.

>> for. And then they seem to access dozens of environment variables  
>> and configuration files so you have no clue about whether those are  
>> needed or not. You just have to know. Which I don't.
> it all depends on your local system ... in the minimals 'setuptex'  
> just plays safe ... it sets up all variables that can interfere with  
> an existing installation

If course, it depends on my local system. However, as a rule of thumb  
every installation of TeX (if there are several ones) should be  
responsible for not leaving behind any mess when it's not in use. Just  
my humble opinion how playing safe could be understood. Also, this is  
precisely what happens on a Mac when you have several versions of TeX  
Live, Fink-teTeX, MacPorts-teTeX etc. happily sitting side by side  
with zero effort on the user part ...

Now this is my one and only motivation for getting rid of the shell  
script "setuptex" and the need for all those environment variables.  
There's really nothing more to all my questions about configuration  
files ...

>> Recently I had the chance to work on the Mac installer again and  
>> after some progress I got stuck at the very same vital point called  
>> configuration information and how it's accessed.
> i wonder what configuration info you refer too; in a minimals setup  
> there is only 'setuptex' and optionally one may want to adapt the  
> cont-sys.tex file

I was referring to

environment variables

and how the information contained therein is accessed (if at all) by  
the different engines and scripts.

>> Still I find the current situation rather frustrating ... in  
>> fairness I think this is also quite understandable from the above.  
>> Anyway, for the moment I'll stay put and wait for the configuration  
>> mechanism to stabilize. Once that has happened I'd be delighted to  
>> get to know the details about how it works ... then the Mac  
>> installer could also enter the stage finally.
> as taco mentioned ... mkiv is for the brave ... we will cook up  
> something that makes it usable for tex live but even then ... it  
> will take a while

Honestly, to my ears this sounds like a contradiction. If you consider  
MKIV for the brave then why include it in TeX Live at all? Once I read  
that the ConTeXt shipping with TeX Live should be regarded as the  
official stable release ...


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