[NTG-context] ConTeXt vs. LaTeX

Zeljko Vrba mordor at fly.srk.fer.hr
Wed Aug 4 18:58:48 CEST 2004

On Wed, Aug 04, 2004 at 04:07:43PM +0200, Mojca Miklavec wrote:
> I'm not sure if these are only the problems at the beginning (since I
> have to look for almost any command I use) and would soon disappear or
> would the general advice be "don't use ConTeXt if LaTeX suits your
> needs". What are your opinions about that?
Being a Context user, I also miss some of nice default formatting of LaTeX.
However, the need for some specific formatting which is weakly handled in
LaTeX made me use Context and I never regret it.

For example, automatic layout of text floating around figures. Or the
possibility of typesetting text in columns (see my document prepared in
Context at


there I typeset text next to C code..)

The best thing I find about Context is that everything I ever thought
of (e.g. in one document I rotated the table 90 degrees to be parallel
with long side of A4 paper and text flowed around the table) is nicely
integrated in Context and there is no need for extra packages like in
Latex. Some things are undocumented in 'official' manuals (e.g. \hyphenatedurl)
but I found them easily by grepping through the code..

I settled myself on a style that fits the kind of documents I write and I
reuse it from a single environment..

Sure I miss nice formatting of Latex (I find my own design rather spartane)
and some packages (e.g. for typesetting the code, like vgrind) but the
consistency and easiness of doing typesetting the Context-way (defining
your own enumerations, 'theorems', headers/footers, placing figures and
tables within text, page layout, etc..) outweighs those drawbacks..

My advice (though, it may not be very popular here) is to stick to Latex
while it suits your needs. And this advice I would give for any kind of
tool - why change it if it isn't broken?

I learned Context because Latex didn't suit my
needs (concrete example: for my diploma work, my mentor required that there
must not be "Chapter" heading for each chapter.. If I put \chapter*, then
it didn't appear in the table of contents.. the solution was dirty - copy
the report class file to local directory and edit it.. however if such a simple
problem has such a dirty solution, how could I cope with tougher problems?
So I switched to Context and never use Latex any more..)

I must say that the beginners manual is excellent and is almost everything
you need.. For harder stuff, Hans and other TeX hackers on this list have
been an invaluable (and quick - I was in a real hurry writing my diploma)

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