Simple Windows Installation

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Note. Valid as of September 2009. All instructions tested on newly installed Windows Vista mid-October 2009 and it worked. Without Ruby.

This page gives instructions on how to easily install ConTeXt Standalone and the SciTe editor on your XP or Vista so that you can compile a document with a few mouse-clicks. If this is not what you want to do, see the Installation page instead.

Step 1: Download all bits and pieces

  • ConTeXt: Vyatcheslav Yatskovsky's Windows installer for the Standalone is a hassle-free alternative
  • SciTE Editor: The easiest way is to get Troy Simpson's Windows installer for SciTe
  • Ruby (only for pdftex, i.e. ConTeXt MKII): if you have files that need to be run in MKII/pdftex, download Ruby (a scripting language, a bit like Perl); if you start from scratch, Ruby is not needed!
  • (Acrobat Reader or other PDF viewer: if you don't have Adobe Acrobat Reader or any other pdf viewer on your computer, download the Acrobat Reader installer, too)

Now you have all the files you need to successfully setup ConTeXt on your Windows computer. But do not drop the network connection yet! You will need internet to get the rest of ConTeXt while installing, which is why the Standalone Installer is so small itself.

NOTE: As of June 2011, The GUI installer still seems to be broken (at least in 64-bit Windows7), so you may have to install the standalone from the command line. In that case you will have to add C:\yourcontextfolder\tex\texmf-mswin\bin to the search path (remember to reboot the computer after this, before you attempt to use your ConTeXt with SciTE).

Step 2: Install ConTeXt and SciTE

  • Start ConTeXt installation by double-clicking on the downloaded installer .exe file.
    • before or during installation you can refer to instruction slides
    • take note of where your ConTeXt gets installed, you'll need to find those files for configuration
    • install the stable ConTeXt; you don't want your first tries to stumble on buggy beta code
    • when the ConTeXt installer has finished, you can move away from the network if needed.
  • Next, unzip SciTE to the location of your choice
  • If you need Ruby, install it by double-clicking the downloaded installer file. Do not install SciTE via Ruby installer (even thought it'll offer that), the One True SciTE is the one you get from Scintilla

Now all the components of a working system are installed: ConTeXt Standalone and SciTE for ConTeXt MKIV (only), ConTeXt Standalone, SciTE and Ruby for ConTeXt MKIV and MKII.

Step 3: Configure for full cooperation

  1. In your ConTeXt files (default name of the main folder is contextminimal) locate scite-ctx.lua. Copy this file to your SciTe program folder (if you used the Windows installer, the default location is under Program Files).
  2. Again in your ConTeXt files, locate and Copy these files to your personal profile folder; in XP that's usually C:\Documents and Settings\yourusername\ (or the equivalent in your language), in Vista and Windows7 C:\Users\yourusername.
  3. Now open SciTE. You still need to tell it where to look for the ConTeXt related settings. For this, go to the Options menu and click on Open User Options File. You should get a blank page. Now type into the file
import scite-ctx
import context

Remember to save the file to save these settings. Then close SciTE.

Step 4: Using ConTeXt

Open SciTE. Open a ConTeXt document (if you have any) or try with a simple "Hello world":


Hello, world!


If you feel courageous, first switch encoding via the File menu to UTF-8 (if you haven't forced your SciTE to do it) and do it in Finnish (just cut and paste from below, if your keyboard doesn't do diacritics):


Päivää, maailma!


Or, if you are really adventurous, first make sure you are using UTF-8, then try to paste the following Russian text into your SciTE (cut-and-paste may give you a few challenges so this may or may not work):


привет мир


Now you have a simple ConTeXt document. Save it (file type/extension is tex), then press Ctrl+1 (or go to Tools and then Process TeX file), sit back and watch. If everything was done right, first you'll have a lot of text on the right side of your SciTE screen, then an empty pdf reader opens, then it takes a bit more time and finally you end up with a one-page pdf that has a page number on top and the text a bit below. If you tried Russian and only get the page number, you have a font problem - backtrack a bit and try English or Finnish first...

Now you are ready to dive into the world of ConTeXt!

For tips on how to configure SciTe to suit your ConTeXting needs, see the Scite page.