[OS X TeX] More information about TeXtures?

Bruno Voisin bvoisin at mac.com
Thu Nov 18 11:52:00 EST 2004

Le 18 nov. 04, à 16:53, Brian Jensen a écrit :

> I'm a relative newbie to both the Mac and TeX, having switched (from 
> Windows and Framemaker) about a year ago. From time to time, I've seen 
> people refer wistfully to TeXtures on this list. I've gone to the 
> Bluesky web site to find out more about this program, but they 
> (surprisingly) give very little information about what seems to be 
> their flagship product. I'm wondering if someone can fill me in on 
> what the main advantages and disadvantages of TeXtures were, and, if 
> anyone knows, why it has not been updated for OS X. Thanks!


There are still a bunch of us, I think, who would like to see OS X 
Textures out there one day. If you dig a bit inside Blue Sky's site, 
you'll find a news page <http://www.bluesky.com/news/news-OSX.html> 
referring to activity on October 11 of this year, so it looks like 
there's still hope.

There have been a number of threads on this list about the state of 
Textures. To make a long story short (and possibly making errors, 
because I'm no insider), there were some bad business decisions, the 
company was close to calling it quit but was finally rescued, and Blue 
Sky Research became Blue Sky TeX Systems. I would say it's probably 
better to let the folks at BSTS work, wish them good luck, and when 
(if) OS X Textures is released, judge it then compared with its free or 
shareware competitors.

In short, the advantages of Textures were:

- Transparent use of Mac OS fonts.

- Truly Mac interface: a single application which contained a text 
editor, a TeX and INITeX engine, a previewer and a print driver all put 
together; several windows for each document inside this application (a 
window for the TeX source, another for the preview, another for the log 
output, another for the figures); a single file for each TeX document, 
containing the equivalent of the .tex and .dvi files (plus figures if 
they were in PNTG or PICT format), and which could have special 
characters and spaces in its name. This was no longer true for LaTeX 
(you still had separate .aux files, plus BibTeX and MakeIndex stuff 
etc., and file names had the usual TeX restrictions).

- Additional goodies: Synchronicity (synchronization between .tex 
source and .dvi output, so that you could navigate transparently from 
one point in the .dvi file to the corresponding input in the .tex file 
and back, with total precision -- to the character), Flash Mode (each 
keystroke launching a new backgrond compilation), Follow Focus. I 
didn't really use any of these goodies, I must say, as these were the 
times of good ol' Macs and those goodies were rather demanding of terms 
of computer resources (even without any such goody, the compilation of 
a 30-pages plain TeX file on a Mac Classic took, AFAIR, several minutes 
and you could see a page being displayed line by line in the preview 
window); they also enlarged (for Synchronicity) the file size 

- Bare-bones interface, with to-the-point, not overcrowded, menus and 
prefs. It was all about elegance and simplicity.

This of course came at a price (apart from the obvious commercial 
price), which were compatibility issues with TeX on other platforms. 
For example, you couldn't use the pstricks package, and similarly you 
couldn't use MF fonts in MF, GF or PK formats (you had to use an 
unsupported and poorly documented Mac version of MetaFont to create Mac 
font suitcases for these fonts, knowing the creation of a single GF 
file from the MF source would take about 5 minutes on a Mac SE/30). 
Similarly, the previewer used QuickDraw which did not support rotation 
or scaling, and displayed figures poorly (compared with the way xdvi 
uses GhostScript to display EPS figures).

Now, the free OS X TeXs around have partly caught up with these 
features (see XeTeX for the first point, TeXShop, iTeXMac and the 
sometimes-evoked-here TeX bundle project for the second point, the 
pdfsync LaTeX package for the third point, and TeXShop for the fourth 
point). So it's likely the merits of Textures will need to be 
reassessed, of course, when (if) OS X Textures is released.


Bruno Voisin
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