2nd ConTEXt User Meeting   (Bohinj, Slovenija, 20th-25th August 2008)


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Workshops & tutorials, aka hands-on sessions


From developers:

From packagers:

From practice:

Editors & writing help:


Discussions (semi-official) & Round tables


New XML tricks in MkIV (Hans Hagen)

For quite a while context provides ways to process XML. It provides some basic manipulative features. You can selectively process content and in the process store information that can be (re)used later. However, we're not operating on the tree: we only have a streaming parser.

In mkiv we do have access to the tree. We can combine the features of the mkii streaming parser with arbitrary access to the tree. If needed we can rearrange, enhance and delete elements or preprocess data.

This workshop will show how this works and can be used in practice.

Typeseting a 1250-page linguistics handbook (Jelle Huisman)

The talk will be a real-life story about the use of ConTeXt in an academic publishing setting.

How to setup a project with a mixed single/double column layout, different types of headers, a changing running header, multi page tables etc.?, How to process data from the database, how to make 350 pages of indexes, how to make it esthetically pleasing and usable from a readability point of view, how to use modes for switching between different layout types, and a few other things as well.

This project helps to get TeX in the picture in a InDesign centered publishing department.

ConTeXt and emacs-muse (Jean Magnan de Bornier)


Construction of Type 1 and Open Type fonts with MetaType1 and FontForge (Karel Piška)

The presentation will demonstrate some ideas and techniques how to create, transform and extend various fonts in Type 1 and Open Type formats - text, mathematical, exotic, etc.

30-60 min

Display math in ConTeXt: The past, the present, and the future (Aditya Mahajan)

TeX was designed to typeset mathematics, however from the users' point of view, it fails miserably when it comes to typesetting display mathematics. (The fact that no other program does it better does not make TeX good). While typing markup for display math the user must know the visual appearance of what they typed: advanced users simply run the TeX interpreter in their to ensure that the result looks good; beginning users go through a painful and long type-preview-edit cycle. In the LaTeX world, there are many excellent packages that make typing mathematics somewhat bearable to the user; in the ConTeXt world, the recent addition of some new macros has made typing display mathematics only as hard as it is in LaTeX. Surely we can do better; this talk will explore how.

I will start by summarizing the features that are provided by ConTeXt (and point out where ConTeXt gets it wrong). Then I explain why the ad-hoc nature of the underlying design make it difficult to add some simple new features. I will present the ideal situation from the user's point of view, and present some intermediate steps that can get us there.

The purpose of this talk is two-fold: tell users what ConTeXt can do for display mathematics, and ask experts how to make it better.

New ConTeXt minimals (Mojca Miklavec; Arthur, Taco, Hans)

The well-known “minimal” distribution, put together by Hans, allows users to install ConTeXt with – hopefully – minimal effort on any mainstream platform. It is available as a small set of zip files on the Pragma web site, a very simple and rather efficient packaging system. It may but be too simple, as it means that when only a few files are updated, one needs to download a rather bulky zip archive to install them. It is also poorly customizable.

In order to remedy this, the rsync minimals were imagined: files are retrieved online with the classic Unix rsync program, which knows how to update entire diretrories by downloading only the necessary files. ConTeXt base files and binary programs can thus be rapidly made available to end users, matching ConTeXt's quick development cycle.

The file hierarchy has also been organized in order to enable better customization of the individual installations: users can download either only the files necessary for Mark II, or for Mark IV, if they want to.

After their initial development on Unix systems with command-line programs, the rsync minimals have been augmented with a Windows installer for a smooth installation on Windows, and a native Mac installer is also on its way. They also have been integrated in the ConTeXt core scripts (mtx-*).

"Unicodifisation" of hyphenation patterns (Arthur Reutenauer, Mojca Miklavec)

Until last month, Unicode was unknown to TeX's hyphenation patterns. Most of them used 8-bit encodings or even Tex commands to represent non-ASCII characters, in a rather haphazard collections of languages. Only ConTeXt initiated the move to Unicode and started shipping patterns converted to UTF-8, but all the other packages and distributions kept using the legacy ones.

This was problematic when TeX Live incorporated XeTeX in 2007, because the latter assumes UTF-8 input by defauld. Jonathan Kew then devised a system where patterns would be automatically converted to UTF-8 when loaded by XeTeX, but the actual pattern files were left in their original fashion.

Last spring, we undertook to convert TeX Live's patterns to UTF-8. Our goals were:

Improving Unicode support in TeX (Arthur Reutenauer)

Unicode has been known to Tex systems, and especially ConTeXt, for quite a while; UTF-8 input was made possible years ago, and support has gradually improved oven the years. But some features are still missing.

In the framework of Google Summer of Code I'm sponsored to improve Unicode support in TeX. I chose to focus on better handling of general character properties: combining behaviour (combining characters are Unicode's diacritical marks), directionality (characters have inherent writing direction, like left-to-right, right-to-left, or something in-between), as well as line-breaking properties. All these can be integrated into TeX, especially in Mark IV, which has all the provisions to take care of these properties.