LaTeX or ConTeXt for writing documents

I’ve started to learn a little ConTeXt, a language for writing documents. It is similar to LaTeX, but is easier to manage.

To quote a former user of GNOME LaTeX who has filed a feature request to add ConTeXt support:

“It includes about all packages you probably need, so in most cases, you won’t need additional ones – and thus don’t have package rivalries at all! Furthermore it’s much more consistent, way more convenient and also more powerful.

I did my bachelor’s thesis with LaTeX and my master’s thesis with ConTeXt – which was SO MUCH more comfortable than LaTeX, that I won’t use LaTeX anymore at all.”

If I wanted to re-implement GNOME LaTeX, it would target the ConTeXt language instead. If there are any ConTeXt user reading this, I would be interested to know what application you use for writing ConTeXt documents, and what features are important to you. If I have the time and funding, I’m interested to implement such a “ConTeXtedit” app that Just Works, out-of-the-box.

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9 thoughts on “LaTeX or ConTeXt for writing documents”

  1. Haha, that’s the first time someone is puplicly quoting me. I feel honored. 😅

    Bank then I tried to use Texmaker and TeXstudio, but also gedit + terminal + Evince, as I was not really satisfied with both programs. If I remember correctly, I ended up using TeXstudio. However, in the last years I just worked with LibreOffice, as I didn’t need to write much formulas.

    I hope the documentation now is better, because at the time that was pretty weird, as there have been just a bunch of documents about specific topics each. These also were created throughout several years, so based on different versions. I needed to infer a lot via trial & error, but with ConTeXt being much more consistent than LaTeX, it was OK to work with.

    If I would want to write such a program, I would write an extension for Gnome Builder, as there is much which could be reused. And I would use Rust of course, as Rust is an improvement in comparison to other languages like ConTeXt is to LaTeX.

    Keep me updated! ✌️😜

    1. Ideally I would like to implement a specialized text editor targeting only ConTeXt, based on GtkSourceView and Tepl, with syntax highlighting (of course), auto-completion, spell-checking, and the document structure in a side panel. The latter feature would take a little more time to implement, but the first three should be doable relatively quickly. So, no build tools, compiling the document can be done in the terminal. And maybe add SyncTeX support, it should be also relatively easy because the code can be re-used from gnome-latex.

      The problem is to find the time and funding. But I keep the project in mind.

  2. LaTeX was for me so difficult to customize that it made me give up on TeX for writing documents at all. And recently, I needed to generate invoices with automatic computation if possible, and I used both LuaTex and ConTeXt for that and it just works great.

    The great advantage to ConTeXt is that you can customize it heavily, and you just write macros to separate markup from semantic.

  3. Sébastien,
    Thanks for triggering a conversation about a ConText specific editor here and in the ConText mailing list.
    I feel that there is benefit in having an integrated IDE that is easy to get into and X-platform to bring more users into ConText versus providing them with a steep learning curve ala VIM for example (my tool at the moment), which represents only a viable investment if used beyond ConText. That’s not very often the case for users not being deeply rooted in programming and/or the IT heavy side of sciences.

  4. Maybe GNOME-LaTeX could be generalized into GNOME-TeX with both a LaTeX mode and a ConTeXt mode. Ideally those could be switched on-the-fly by toggling headerbar buttons?

    1. I’m developing the Tepl [1] library (Text editor product line), to have re-usable code to create new text editors easily, taking the code from gedit, gnome-latex and gCSVedit [2]. The number of lines of code in gnome-latex is slowly decreasing, the same for gedit.

      So I think it makes more sense to create a new text editor for ConTeXt, based on Tepl, instead of “patching” gnome-latex. In gnome-latex there are many features specific to LaTeX that would not work well with ConTeXt, and creating two main modes in the application would make the code more complex (but it’s feasible though).


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