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Re: [possible patch] Basic fontspec code for LuaLaTeX and XelaTeX (was "

From: Juan Manuel Macías
Subject: Re: [possible patch] Basic fontspec code for LuaLaTeX and XelaTeX (was "LaTeX export: when is it more useful...")
Date: Mon, 11 Jul 2022 13:34:00 +0000

Tim Cross writes:

> Juan, if I understand your proposal correctly, I think your on the right
> track. It sounds like what you are proposing would have almost no impact
> on basic users like me, but would allow those with more demanding
> requirements to adjust without too much effort. I originally raised the
> question regarding what would need to change with the switch to uatex to
> ensure that we do actually get things positioned to enable people to
> exploit the benefits and not just switch out one tool for another which
> only appears to be a little slower. I think what you are suggesting
> addresses that concern. 

Tim, thanks a lot for your interesting comments.

Indeed, I think that LuaTeX is a good direction for the TeX ecosystem.
And it seems that the third edition of The LaTeX Companion makes the way


Of course, LuaTeX is still a kind of cyborg (someone defined it that
funny way :-). TeX has not been rewritten here from scratch (that would
have been preferable), but LuaTeX has brought, in my opinion, two
revolutionary things: being able to control TeX internals from a
scripting language as light and minimalist as Lua (which drastically
influences the creation of packages every increasingly powerful and
sophisticated for all areas) and the fact that TeX is finally native
unicode. From the latter, of course, follows the fact that the user is
no longer dependent on Computer Modern and can choose whatever font he
wants, just like in any other modern textual software, from a simple
word processor to more advanced tools like InDesign-style dtp programs.

Even though pdfTeX was light years ahead of InDesign, this simple
operation of choosing the font or font family has always been horribly
difficult in LaTeX. There were a few packages that incorporated specific
font families (Times, Fourier, etc.), but if one wanted to manually
install Adobe Garamond in pdfTeX ---for example---, the process became
absurdly long and cumbersome. Now in LuaLaTeX and XelaTeX that is as
simple as doing it in libreoffice.

Of course, TeX and LaTeX have always had their historical typeface,
Computer Modern, which is almost like one of their distinguishing
features. This extreme reliance on Computer Modern has often given
people who don't use LaTeX the misconception that any document made in
LaTeX always looks the same.

Despite the fact that I feel enormous admiration for Donald Knuth, and I
believe that to a greater or lesser extent many or almost all of us are
indebted to him, I believe that the design of Computer Modern is not
good and has many legibility problems (imho), especially legibility
screen (precisely because of its Didot-style design, with such a marked
contrast between the strokes). Since there is a thread on this list
about accessibility, it's worth remembering that Computer Modern isn't
exactly an easy-to-read font. Of course, you have to put things in their
historical context. When TeX was created there was nothing similar to
what we have today in fonts, there was no truetype or opentype, there
were no free fonts either. It was all to do. And, naturally, if one
creates "a new typesetting system intended for the creation of beautiful
books" (Texbook page 5, Preface), it would be somewhat strange if this
new typesetting system were born without a typeface to show the world
the excellence of TeX. For that reason Knuth created Metafont and the
Computer Modern font.

Now with LuaTeX and XeTeX choosing the font, any font, is easy, fast and

> but as I said, I know nothing....

I don't think so. Knowing (or not knowing) things or facts (after all, all
of this is just "data") is not the same as being wise and speaking
wisely :-)

Best regards,

Juan Manuel 

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