[NTG-context] Migrating from LaTeX (was: A not so short introduction to ConTeXt Mark IV)

BPJ bpj at melroch.se
Mon Jan 4 14:02:51 CET 2021

I understand all that. I just thought that maybe such resources existed
which I didn't know.

While as you say the approaches differ it would be nice to have like a FAQ
"how do you do what LaTeX package X does in ConTeXt?" I guess that that is
what I'm after. Something like a LaTeX <--> ConTeXt Rosetta stone. Knowing
that rather than importing a package I should modify some command using
some options is basic; what one really needs to know is which specific
command to modify using which specific options with which specific values
to do what package X does in LaTeX. If/since it doesn't exist maybe it
would be a good thing if users make it exist. It would certainly help
drawing more proselytes. I'm basically still using only LaTeX because I
know which packages to use to do the things I want. Perhaps that *is* as
good a reason as any to stay with LaTeX but it shouldn't be a barrier to
learning ConTeXt which IME it is.

To take but one example: when wearing my linguist hat I deal with obscure
scripts and languages, mostly dead languages, which no standard LaTeX index
processor can handle (at least not out of the box) so I have my pile of
Perl hacks which generate indices using Perl's excellent Unicode
capabilities and some excellent modules written by other people. (I use the
same LaTeX packages as everyone else, I just have a homemade way of going
from idx to ind.) The first hurdle to know if/how ConTeXt might offer a
better solution (which it doesn't AFAIK but my own tool can easily generate
ConTeXt markup as well as LaTeX markup should it come to that) was to find
out that indices are called "registers" in ConTeXt (not too surprising
since it is _register_ in Swedish) for searching for "index" on the ConTeXt
wiki finds an error page!

Admittedly it might be just me: I have a hard time knowing where to look in
the likewise excellent Vim documentation too: what search terms to use.
Finding a LaTeX solution to a problem with Google OTOH usually is pretty
fast done — if you can describe your problem in prose you usually don't hit
a wall.

With knowledge of TeX basics I did not mean a working knowledge of plain
TeX but the actual basics: reserved characters, syntax, space after a
command is ignored, a blank line makes a paragraph, that sort of things
which are common to all flavors.

Better --help|less than helpless

Den mån 4 jan. 2021 00:02Henning Hraban Ramm <texml at fiee.net> skrev:

> > Am 03.01.2021 um 22:24 schrieb Hans Hagen <j.hagen at xs4all.nl>:
> >
> > On 1/3/2021 10:02 PM, BPJ wrote:
> >> I understand that and it is all well and good. I am wondering if there
> already is *another* text which presupposes basic knowledge of TeX and
> general knowledge of LaTeX, perhaps in a by-topic style.
> > I think this relates to the question how someone comes to tex and then
> to context. Are tex macro packages used alongside and such? Are there 'from
> word/office to tex' or reverse manuals? What could be a motivation to write
> one.
> I guess most ConTeXt users migrated from LaTeX at some point, so that
> guide would really make sense. But I can’t write it either, even if I’m
> also working with LaTeX (but just as a user of one special class).
> If I run into a problem in LaTeX that I know to solve in ConTeXt, the
> approach is never right.
> I think the similarities of LaTeX and ConTeXt are mostly misleading,
> you’re better off trying to forget everything and start anew.
> In LaTeX most problems are solved with “use this or that package”, without
> the need to understand the commands and settings involved, while in ConTeXt
> most problems are solved with \setupsomething[somekey=somevalue].
> Of course it helps to understand basic TeX stuff – but you’re not supposed
> to use (plain) TeX commands in LaTeX, while it is or was much more usual in
> ConTeXt.
> Writing my book I have users of text processors (Word/LibreOffice) and
> layout applications (InDesign etc.) in mind, even if I assume that most
> readers (if I’ll ever publish it...) will come from LaTeX.
> > So, one way out could be to have some collection of tips / suggestions
> and turn that into a kind of manual. Something to do by those who make some
> transition or use alongside. The wiki is the place start with that.
> >
> > So .. up to users.
> Yes, and that means: up to users migrating from LaTeX and documenting
> their struggles.
> Hraban
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