[NTG-context] Mini-survey: What do you do with ConTeXt?

Mari Voipio mari.voipio at iki.fi
Fri Nov 4 17:40:39 CET 2005

Taco Hoekwater wrote:
>   What do you do with ConTeXT?

I first learned ConTeXt because of work:
My employer makes measuring instruments for industry and I write and/or 
compile and layout the end-user manuals for those instruments. 
Traditionally, those manuals were written and edited in Word, but when 
the mass of text and the amount of figures grew, it was obvious that I 
needed a new tool before becoming a total wreck due to corrupted and 
unruly Word files. A workmate had written his thesis in TeX and started 
to look for various TeX based solutions, of which I finally chose ConTeXt.

I had to stick to Windows because of work. We first tried MikTeX, but 
that just didn't work out. Then I got TeXLive and it worked - except 
fonts.... Hours later and with the help of the email list I finally 
found the correct combination of magical lines and there it was. And 
then somebody mentioned that I could get Emacs with Context-mode in 
Windows and that's it. That's still how I run ConteXt at work, although 
now there are easier Windows options available (not to talk about the 
Mac option...). Using Emacs usually gains points from younger nerds we 
occassionally employ. :-)

ConTeXt was the first TeX based system I've ever used, but I was used to 
using styles and had done HTML (still do it by hand), so I have some 
idea of what I was getting into. Looking back I realize that I've 
learned an awful lot of things although I often feel that I don't know 
any of the things I should. Having to do something new usually results 
in curses at the beginning, but when it works, it always works. I'll 
still use Word (and equivalents) for small stuff, but when I need 
something big and printable, ConTeXt is the tool.

My real "ConTeXt moment" came last summer, when I had to redo the layout 
on one of our old Word files that had been edited by somebody else in 
between. It was disgustingly difficult to the degree that I seriously 
considered cutting and pasting the whole thing into Emacs and ConTeXting 
it to my liking!


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