[NTG-context] ConTeXt on the Mac (TexShop). Problem of a newbie

Sietse Brouwer sbbrouwer at gmail.com
Sat Jan 12 00:13:32 CET 2013

Hi Thomas,

You wrote, a good number of e-mails ago:
> But would it be possible
> to use ConTeXt without having to care about bugs in
> updated code or broken links between different modules...?

Thought I'd add a brief note to the conversation about updates and stability.

ConTeXt Mark II (can use XeTeX, pdfTeX, LuaTeX, and all those other
engines) is extraordinarily stable. Its development is frozen
(although I think bugfixes can still be requested). Because it is
written in TeX, a language that is also frozen, I think it is quite
likely that Mark II documents will still compile in 20 years. Mark II
is included in the Standalone distribution; use the `texexec` command
to compile a document with Mark II.

ConTeXt Mark IV is Hans's rewriting of ConTeXt in TeX + Lua, adding
lots of features along the way because Lua makes it so damn easy. It
requires LuaTeX.

* The beta version are mercurial; bugs are introduced and fixed all
the time. If you want to use a beta for a project, this is the usual
advice: make a separate Standalone installation for your project, and
don't update that unless you want/have to. That said: this is only
because the next update might contain a bug when you least need it,
it's not about compatibility. Hans, as far as I know, tries very hard
to not break backward compatibility.

* A stable version comes out once a year. They receive special
bug-checking attention, and because Hans dislikes breaking backward
compatibility I think you could hop from stable to stable and your
documents would still compile.

As for your third worry, modules dependency hell: this is very much a
LaTeX thing. 2 reasons:
1. Pretty much everything is already in ConTeXt itself, meaning less
external modules are needed. 2. ConTeXt is 10 years younger than
LaTeX, meaning that its design and architecture are 10 years more
modern. Specifically, LaTeX has an entire taxonomy of packages that
make package-writing easier -- key-value, loops, string operations --
and user-facing packages may depend on any number of these. ConTeXt
doesn't have this problem: everyone just depends on the core.

So if it's stability you worry about, you have three options:
* Use Mark II, solid as a rock.
* Follow the stable Mark IVs.
* Take a bleeding-edge beta and don't update it.

Good luck!


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