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Textadept is a programmable text editor for Linux, Mac OSX and Windows. It is fully extensible using Lua.

ConTeXt with Textadept (MS Windows)

(updated 2017/12)

Step 1: Install Textadept

1.1. Download and extract Textadept to a folder of your choice.

1.2. Use textadept.exe from the extracted folder to start Textadept.

Step 2: Tweak Textadept's settings

Note that almost all changes to Textadept are saved in the file init.lua. There is two of them, of which you should edit only one:

  • One of them is in the extracted Textadept main folder. It is not recommended to edit this file as your changes will be lost when you update Textadept. Instead:
  • When you start Textadept for the first time, a new folder SYSDRIVE:\users\USERNAME\.textadept gets created. It also contains a file called init.lua. This is the file and location where you should save all your Textadept settings. This way you can make a copy and use it on several computers. When you open it for the first time it should be empty.

Usually you have to restart Textadept after changing its configuration files. Robert Gieseke created a code though, which you can add to your init.lua to circumvent having to restart Textadept whenever a change is made:

 -- Save and reset Lua state: F9
 keys['f9'] = function()    -- Mac OSX users might prefer:    keys[OSX and 'mf9' or 'f9']

Save init.lua and restart Textadept once. After doing so you can add changes to Textadept's configuration files and press F9-key afterwards to save and load the changes without having to restart Textadept.

Step 2.1: Bind a PDF build command into Textadept

2.1.1. Use Textadept to open your init.lua stored in SYSDRIVE:\users\USER\.textadept\.

2.1.2. Add an execute command for ConTeXt to Textadept's menu:

 textadept.run.compile_commands.tex = 'mtxrun --autogenerate --script context --autopdf --purge --synctex=-1 "%f"'
  • Note that your ConTeXt executables folder has to be in the Windows search path!

2.1.3. Restart Textadept to reload the modified init.lua.

2.1.4. Open or create a ConTeXt test document:

   hello world!
  • You will have to save the file with an appropriate ending first, after that it will be recognized as ConTeXt format file automatically.

2.1.5. Use Textadept's Tools -> Compile to build a PDF with the options added to init.lua. A message buffer with compilation status will open in a seperate tab.

2.1.6. When you have a popular PDF reader installed already, it should pop up at the end of the process and show the created PDF output. Sumatra PDF is highly recommended for this.

Step 2.2: Lexing (command highlighting & code folding)

A lexer is a file that defines command highlighting and code folding keywords. Textadept comes with a ConTeXt lexer. In order to be able to use command highlighting and code folding when writing ConTeXt documents, you have to bind those documents to the lexer. To do so

2.2.1. add the following line to your USER/.textadept/init.lua and save it afterwards:

 textadept.file_types.extensions.tex = 'context'
  • If you plan to use LaTeX and ConTeXt, you might want to use different file extensions for each format. For example *.tex for LaTeX and *.cxd for ConTeXt documents. In that case you only have to bind your new ConTeXt extension to Textadept's ConTeXt lexer, since .tex files are automatically recognized as LaTeX documents:
 textadept.file_types.extensions.cxd = 'context'
    • When linking files within ConTeXt documents without adding an extension though, ConTeXt will expect those files to have the ending *.tex, i.e. you will have to work with filenames and extensions when using a format other than *.tex, which on the other hand should not be seen as a disadvantage.

2.2.2. Restart Textadept to reload init.lua.

2.2.3. Open a ConTeXt document and check Textadept's status bar in the lower right corner. It should say context. If it says latex make sure it really is a ConTeXt file or repeat the procedure.

Optional: Additional Textadept tweaks

Themes & editor font changes

You can change the theme, font and font size of Textadept with the following line

 ui.set_theme('dark', {font = 'Monospace', fontsize = 10})       -- Textadept v9
 buffer:set_theme('dark', {font = 'Monospace', fontsize = 10})   -- Textadept v10

in which the expression dark is the filename of the theme located in either Textadept\themes or USER\.textadept\themes (after you created or downloaded and added them; create the folder as it usually won't be there yet).

  • There are more settings which you can look up in Textadept's manual.


Snippets are predefined code or text blocks. Using snippets can save a lot of time as you won't have to retype often used commands and text passages. You add snippets to your USER/.textadept/init.lua. In Textadept snippets look like this:

 snippets.context['TRIGGERKEYWORD'] = 'PASTEDTEXT'

To get an idea how writing snippets (for ConTeXt) works, you can copy and paste the following list to your init.lua:

 -- The first line is mandatory:
 snippets['context'] = snippets['context'] or {}
 -- Snippets start here:
 snippets.context['emph']        = '{\\em %<selected_text>%0}' -- emphasized text/math
 snippets.context['ital']        = '{\\it %<selected_text>%0}' -- italic text/math
 snippets.context['bold']        = '{\\bf %<selected_text>%0}' -- bold text/math
 snippets.context['boldit']      = '{\\bi %<selected_text>%0}' -- bold italic text/math
 snippets.context['start']       = '\\start%1\n\t%0\n\\stop%1'
 snippets.context['itemize']     = '\\startitemize[packed]\n\t\\startitem\n\t\t%<selected_text>%0\n\t\\stopitem\n\\stopitemize' -- start itemization
 snippets.context['item'] 	 = '\\startitem\n\t%<selected_text>%0\n\\stopitem'
 snippets.context['enumerate']   = '\\startenumerate\n\t%0\n\\stopenumerate'
 snippets.context['chapter']     = '\\startchapter[title={%1},marking{%1}]\n\t%0\n\\stopchapter'
 snippets.context['section']     = '\\startsection[title={%1},marking{%1}]\n\t%0\n\\stopsection'
 snippets.context['ssection']    = '\\startsubsection[title={%1},marking{%1}]\n\t%0\n\\stopsubsection'
 snippets.context['title']       = '\\starttitle[title={%1},marking{%1}]\n\t%0\n\\stoptitle'
 snippets.context['subject']     = '\\startsubject[title={%1},marking{%1}]\n\t%0\n\\stopsubject'
 snippets.context['ssubject']    = '\\startsubsubject[title={%1},marking{%1}]\n\t%0\n\\stopsubsubject'
  • Note that a backslash \ is set by typing a double backslash \\.
  • The most important formatting commands are the following:
    • \n set a line break (new line)
    • \t set a tabulated
    • %0 set the closing caret (placeholder) (the cursor will jump here last)
    • %1 set one or multiple input carets (%1, %2, %3 and so on; you can also use the same integer multiple times: e.g. \\start%1 ... \\stop%1)
    • %<selected_text> this is where highlighted text will be pasted when enclosing it with a snippet (e.g. {\\bi %<selected_text>%0})
  • After adding snippets, you have to restart Textadept or reset Lua state as described in Step 2.
  • You can paste snippets into ConTeXt documents
    • either by typing the keyword that you defined within snippets.context['KEYWORD'] and pressing Tab-key afterwards
    • or by using Ctrl + K (by default on Windows machines) to choose from the list of snippets. No matter in which order you add them to your init.lua, they will show up sorted alphabetically.
  • Note that since this way you bound snippets to Textadept's ConTeXt lexer, Textadept's status bar in the lower right corner has to say context, otherwise use a ConTeXt document or see Step 2.2.
  • Read more about snippets in Textadept's manual.

3rd party projects

A ConTeXt module for Textadept is being developed at ta-context-latex.

Note though, that if you plan to use Textadept without LaTeX with ConTeXt mkiv only (recommended), then you might not need the package mentioned above as it comes with literally only a hand full of ConTeXt snippets. It also needs additional software to be installed (Textredux, ctags), so that it's almost more comfortable to create own ConTeXt snippets with the ease of Textadept (see above).