Joachim Kock jkock at start.no
Sat Nov 25 19:42:19 EST 2006

I would like to make a proposal to the Mac OSX TeX community:

Since there is a lot of resistance against setting the PATH environment
variable in environment.plist, but since on the other hand it is clear that
it would be very useful to have this info globally available and solve many
problems for the multitude of tex frontends,

   why don't we agree on using another variable, say MACTEXPATH ?

(whose value should be a single path, not a colon-separated list).

It is really straightforward and involves none of the dangers alleged
by the opponents of the PATH-in-plist usage.

Simply let the MacTeX installer (and TeX-Switcher, and so on) do

defaults write "~/.MacOSX/environment" MACTEXPATH /usr/local/texprograms

Then every GUI application will inherit this variable and its value, and
they can use it if they want, or otherwise ignore it.  This new variable
will not have influence on anything else than on the tex frontends who
deliberately choose to use it, and chances are minimal that anybody else
have already used this variable for anything else.

The idea of introducing a new environment variable is fundamental to the
whole mechanism and should not scare anybody.  A very similar example is
provided by TeX itself: acknowledging that the variable EDITOR should not
be messed too much with, TeX invented a new variable TEXEDIT.  All complex
X11 applications introduce their own environment variables -- it is really
part of the game.

I see no good reason why MacTeX (and the Mac OSX TeX community) should not
offer such an auxiliary environment variable.  It will not hurt anybody,
and it will be a big help for many programs and save trouble for many end


Joachim Kock <kock at mat.uab.cat>
Departament de Matemàtiques -- Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Edifici C -- 08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona) -- ESPANYA
Phone: +34 93 581 25 34        Fax: +34 93 581 27 90
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