[NTG-context] State of documentation of ConTeXt?

Hans Hagen pragma at wxs.nl
Wed Jul 16 00:54:27 CEST 2014

On 7/16/2014 12:26 AM, David Wooten wrote:
> On Jul 15, 2014, at 2:59 AM, Gerben Wierda <Gerben.Wierda at rna.nl
> <mailto:Gerben.Wierda at rna.nl>> wrote:
>> I like ConTeXt (still do, I liked its approach when I first
>> encountered it). But the project is more the ongoing private tinkering
>> of a small in-crowd (that communicates with some followers).
>> ConTeXt is managed a bit like a small group of researchers sharing a
>> couple of complex and undocumented models/programs and tinkering with
>> them as they go along. It’s an activity without formal design, but
>> with a lot of trial-and-error/testing.
>> Given that status (and the fact that it has had that status for over a
>> /decennium/), I don’t expect it to ever become a serious product that
>> is (semi-)professionally managed. I prefer content over management
>> every day, but something like this needs some minimal management. That
>> requires both time (=money) and capabilities. Besides, the tinkering
>> researchers may not be inclined to do that, they want to tinker.
> Agreed, though for my part with the opposite emphasis. I do not think
> ConTeXt is meant to be a “serious product”, as in /being developed to be
> a product in the “marketplace” of  typesetting software — even open/free
> software. /My impression is exactly yours, it is being developed
> primarily for the purposes of Pragma—a small in-crowd no doubt—but with

don't get me wrong: the development is to a large extend possible 
because we can use it at pragma (it make sit possible to do things that 
often cannot be done otherwise) but most of the features that have been 
added the last years as well as numerous additional options are purely 
user driven: most styles we write are rather simple .. the complexity 
comes from the often messy or complex or to-be-manipulated content and 
range of products; so, it being mostly user driven (but within the 
constraints that we keep a relative stable core) also means that users 
have a responsibility for helping with documentation

> extraordinarily generous support for a small community of non-Pragma
> people interested in using it. I’m /grateful/ to have access to ConTeXt,
> as for me it’s the only sane method of typesetting the kind of documents
> I wish to typeset — /not /LaTeX, /not /InDesign, /not /Plain TeX, … I
> can tell you that every question or suggestion I’ve had has been
> responded to in the most generous form in this community, which I cannot
> say about /any other/ platform I’ve used, typesetting or otherwise.

keep in mind that context has been part of the tex distributions for 
quite a while now (nearly 20 years), that there are others than me who 
know the source code pretty well (which means that it doesn't depend on 
pragma), that the context crowd has been actively involved in 
development of (and even triggered) general tex developments (..., 
luatex, mplib, fonts, ...) so it's not as isolated as you suggest.

once the move from mkii to mkiv is finishes and luatex is kind of done, 
there might be time for writing more documentation; we're far from retiring

of the other macro packages, plain tex is frozen, and latex dev is quite 
controlled too (anyone can write additional code for any macro package)

(and the context mailing list is one of the more active tex related 
lists and not the smallest either)

> It’s suspect to take umbrage on another’s behalf, but “tinkering
> researchers may not be inclined to do that, they want to tinker” — It’s
> absurd to suggest that Hans &co. are “tinkering” for the sake of tinkering.

sometimes we do, when we explore new posibilities,


                                           Hans Hagen | PRAGMA ADE
               Ridderstraat 27 | 8061 GH Hasselt | The Netherlands
     tel: 038 477 53 69 | voip: 087 875 68 74 | www.pragma-ade.com
                                              | www.pragma-pod.nl

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