[OS X TeX] Re: Good bye!

Frank STENGEL fstengel at mac.com
Mon Jan 31 03:57:31 EST 2005

Le 31 janv. 05, à 02:00, david craig a écrit :

>> Concerning fonts,TeX behaves like a program written in Stone Ages.
> Well, it was, but that's beside the point.
> I've been using TeX for maybe 17 years, and I'm as shocked as you are 
> that the state of affairs vis a vis fonts has been permitted to remain 
> as appalling as it is.

Indeed. however, font managing is a very tricky affair. As it turns out 
fonts are, in many ways, very OS (even software) dependant. You simply 
need to listen to the woes of those who have (tried to) transfer Word 
documents across OSes or versions. The same font does not always 
produce the same output in MacOS or in Windows. What I mean the font 
may have the same name / optical size, but the same words will not 
print out the same (different length / height)...

What makes TeX font management neolithic is
* its strict adherence to *compatibility* and *portability* across OSes 
and teX engines;
* the unusual layout standard TeX fonts were designed with.

What causes the most problems is the second point. To use a non-TeX 
font in TeX, one has to re-encode it. It takes a lot of work even if 
one uses fontinst to help. Furthermore, fonts that can be used with 
mathematics are very rare.

Font management in TeX changed radically with the arrival of LaTeX2e: 
when NFSS came to be (im unsure as to exactly when, somewhere around 
the mid-nineties), one coud at last choose to use a font family that 
wasn't Computer Modern, but the choices were limited...

If one is ready to loose cross-OS portability, one could use XeTeX: all 
the power of TeX with the multitude of OS X fonts.

Frank STENGEL (fstengel<at>mac.com)

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