[Dev-luatex] Q: Can LuaTeX produce xdv?

Hans Hagen pragma at wxs.nl
Fri Jan 2 09:58:20 CET 2009

Jonathan Fine wrote:

> What I want is for LuaTeX and XeTeX to have a shared 'extended dvi 
> format' which is suitable for print, for generating PDF and possibly 
> other purposes.
> And of course I'd like this format to be of at least satisfactory 
> technical quality.

Since luatex is mostly pdftex the code related to the backend is also 
interwoven with functionality (like annotations and objects etc). Most 
if that can be supported via the dvi route too but it's not always as 
efficient. Also, some functionality can be written in lua by parsing 
node lists etc.

Anyhow, it's on the agenda (2009-2010) to rewrite the backend code in 
such a way that more backend can be used (maybe written in lua). 
Although we want luatex to be backward compatible as much as possible 
(as long as it does not complicated the code), it might be that 
redesigning the interface between frontend and backend will lead to 
extensions to the dvi format (or we might as well decide that dvi 
supports only part of the frontend features); specials are always an 
escape at the cost of more macro package code.

So, it's not 'dvi' that sits in the middle of 'print and generating 
pdf', but dvi as one of the (traditional) output formats:

   luatex frontend -> api -> [dvi,pdf,...] [dvi->ps,pdf,...]

of course one can stil go the

   luatex frontend -> api -> [dvi+] [ps,pdf,...]

route then. As said: it's one of the longer term objectives. A quick and 
dirty non-introsve patch to produce xetex compatible dvi is no problem, 
but one never knows if it will stay that way.


                                           Hans Hagen | PRAGMA ADE
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