[NTG-context] XeTeX questions

Thomas A. Schmitz thomas.schmitz at uni-bonn.de
Mon Jan 22 22:10:17 CET 2007

On Jan 21, 2007, at 11:59 PM, Mojca Miklavec wrote:

> In summer I almost lost my nerves when I had to make a presentation
> with Lithuanian, Turkish, Romanian, ... Vietnamese names (and had only
> one night to make it ready). One letter was missing in Unicode vectors
> for pdfTeX, [st]cedilla/commaaccent was problematic anyway (iwona and
> lm use different letters on the same slot), for Vietnamese I needed to
> redefine the font (\ifcountryisvietnamthen ... and font switching
> macros seemed to have little bugs, so some specific combinations of
> commands failed for basically no reason). It was a headache. (I needed
> external figures and I didn't know that using them was possible in
> XeTeX.)

OK, I see where XeTeX has its strong points. And I can certainly  
agree: if you want unusual glyphs that are not part of a more-or-less  
standard encoding, that can be a PITA.

> Two other reasons why I'm sometimes using XeTeX is the ability to use
> any font and the ability to use any glyph without too much troubles
> (all that might be possible in pdfTeX, but even now that I potentially
> know how to do that, I stil find it too cumbersome - too much work
> just for the sake of being able to use a single font for a title
> somewhere on a poster - too much overhelm).
> Well ... another reason might be "just because it's fun to play a  
> bit" ;)
> You can do a lot more than that (typeset the most obscure scripts in
> the world), but if you don't ask for it, you probably don't need it
> either.

Yes, I was just wondering how much time I should spend on ``playing a  

> Well ... I didn't manage to get over this (buggy windows tools -
> neither lcdftypetools nor texfont worked properly) and aferwards I
> didn't want to take time for it (I know that it's history, not the
> future, so it makes no sense to loose time with it). But if you don't
> have problems like the one described above, if you don't need "fancy
> apple fonts" and if the desired fonts work OK for you, there's
> probably no reason to switch.
> And when talking about "should I switch to XeTeX":
> The nice thing about ConTeXt is that you usually shouldn't notice the
> difference at any point of the document except for possibly sligthly
> different line with font definitions.
>> I assume that once the integration of
>> opentype in luatex is finished, this will be even more
>> straightforward, giving us access to many opentype features. I'm just
>> wondering if it makes sense to spend more time here
> It depends on what you consider "spend more time". If I'm not counting
> the time reading the XeTeX mailing list, writing feature requests or
> doing minor fixes in code or on the wiki from time to time, there's
> basically no additional time involved. It simply works out of the box.

Well, that depends on your needs: the only ``exotic'' script that I  
use on a regular basis is polytonic Greek, and this works indeed out  
of the box (very impressive), but in my quick tests, failed to work  
as soon as I added the mapping=tex-text command to the font. But your  
post has been immensely helpful, Mojca. Thanks for your time, I  
really see where XeTeX is useful, but I also see that it probably  
won't do a lot for me.



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