[OS X TeX] Plain TeX and OS X [slightly OT]

Siep siepo at cybercomm.nl
Sat Jul 27 14:58:07 EDT 2002

On Sat, 27 Jul 2002 14:20:35 +0200
Bruno Voisin <Bruno.Voisin at hmg.inpg.fr> wrote:

> In summary: you can do almost everything in both Plain TeX and LaTeX, 
> some things are easier in Plain TeX, others in LaTeX. Plain TeX allows 
> you to control everything, but it has a price: having to write obvious 
> and uninteresting tasks into as many details as complicated and exciting 
> tasks. To quote the preface again: "however, the LaTeX sedan has all the 
> power of [Plain] TeX hidden under its hood, and the more adventurous 
> driver can do everything with it than he can with [Plain] TeX".

Don't forget the role of LaTeX as a file format for structured documents.
This is what makes it an option for scientific publishers. But if you want
to use it for precise layout it is a PITA.

> - The ConTeXt format, based entirely on pdfTeX, is a substitute to LaTeX 
> which uses a syntax closer to Plain TeX and produces superb documents. 
> Colors, multimedia content, display- or printing-oriented output are all 
> here. Maybe you'll like it better than LaTeX. However every time I 
> thought about using it I had a look at the web site 
> <http://www.pragma-ade.com> and got discouraged: should I really 
> download and read all these manuals to start using it, can't I just get 
> one manual describing all of ConTeXt, print it and read it quietly at 
> home? Moreover ConTeXt doesn't seem to do equations for now!

Manuals: Just download the beginners manual and the reference manual.
Math: I believe you can do plain TeX style math in Context. Anyhow, you
CAN do math.

There is also XML support.

If you can't make up your mind, lurk for a while on the Context mailing
list; a link to the subscription form is at

By the way: although Hans Hagen himself makes lovely stuff and both he and
the Context mailing list are very helpful, I find Context confusing and
frustrating and a moving target, and would need a really really good
reason before I would have another go at it.


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