Windows Installation: ConTeXt Suite with SciTe

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NOTE: You will need admin rights to your Windows to manage the installation process. If you don't have that, get somebody who does.

These instructions apply to ConTeXt versions from September 19, 2011. If you have used the ConTeXt-SciTe combo earlier, remove all .properties files from your user folder and check that your SciTe is version 2.26 or newer (the newest version, at the time of writing 2.29, is recommended).

Install ConTeXt

Step 1: Download and unzip the installer

Download onto your computer. It contains a folder called context, unzip/extract that folder into the location where you want your final ConTeXt installation. It is recommended not to use folders with space in their name. Mari usually puts hers directly onto the main hard disk, i.e. C, so ConTeXt is normally located at C:\context on her Windows computers (both XP, Vista and W7).

Step 2: Use installer to get the ConTeXt Suite

Now go to your ConTeXt folder (e.g. C:\context). Run file first-setup (= first-setup.bat). If you just want the latest version of ConTeXt without any frills, you can just double-click the file name and it'll do the rest. If you want to install third-party modules like SimpleSlides, or if you prefer to install the most recent stable version of ConTeXt, you'll have to use Command Prompt.

By default, the suite installs ConTeXt beta. If you want the stable version of ConTeXt, you can use

 first-setup.bat --context=current

By default, the suite does not install modules and other third party content. If you want the modules e.g. [modules:simpleslides simpleslides] (and have the bandwidth for extra download) you can use

first-setup.bat --modules=all

Of course you can use both options at the same time

 first-setup.bat --context=current --modules=all

Tip: You'll need to run first-setup.bat also to update your ConTeXt and/or to add modules afterwards. One way of making this easier is to copy the Command Prompt shortcut to the ConTeXt folder (e.g. from startup menu). Then right-click the icon, choose Properties and replace the text on the Start In line with your ConTeXt folder location (e.g. C:\context). When you double-click this shortcut, the Command Prompt starts directly in the correct folder and you don't have to remember any file paths (and you can even copy-paste the commands from this wiki page to the command line!).

Step 3: Add ConTeXt to Windows search path

You will have to go to the system settings of your Windows and add you will have to add C:\yourcontextfolder\tex\texmf-mswin\bin (eg c:\context\tex\texmf-mswin\bin)to the search path (environment variable path under advanced system properties). If you are the only user on the computer needing ConTeXt, you can put it under user variables, otherwise add it to the existing search path listing.

After you've added the path to system settings, you have to reboot the computer. You can check that the path is there by opening command prompt and typing


If the resulting listing contains the address of your tex/texmf-mswin/bin directory, your computer knows where to find ConTeXt.

Install SciTe

Now you have ConTeXt. To complement it, i.e. to easily write and compile ConTeXt files, install the SciTe editor. It is a nifty open source editor that, with some adjustments, will be able to highlight ConTeXt code and run ConTeXt from inside the editor. (And it is pretty useful for e.g. html and php editing, too.)

Step 1: Get SciTe

There's a SciTe included in your ConTeXt Suite, but you'll get less hassle with user rights and such if you use Troy Simpson's Windows installer for SciTe. Keep accepting everything it suggests and you'll get a very standard Windows program installed without any hassle. It also installs a so called context menu, i.e. you can right-click any text file (html, php, tex, txt) and give command "Edit with SciTe in New Tab" or "Edit with SciTe in New Window".

Step 2: Fetch and install lexer add-in

The ConTeXt versions dated September 20, 2011, or later use external lexers and for that you have to Download the lexer add-in zip (just get the top-most file of those listed in the download directory).

Then extract/unzip the contents of the lexer zip into a temporary directory. You get a directory scintilluaxxx-n (e.g. scintillua229-1). Go to that directory and copy everything in it to your SciTe folder.

Leave the SciTe program folder open, you'll need next!

Adjust SciTe to work with ConTeXt

Copy setup files

Go to yourcontextfolder/tex/texmf-context/context/data/scite/context (e.g. C:\context\tex\texmf-context\context\data\scite\context). Copy everything from this folder to your SciTe program folder. If you only plan to use SciTe for ConTeXt, you can replace all files. If you want to keep all the existing functionality, copy the subfolder contents by hand, but make sure you get everything.

Import settings into SciTe

Open SciTe. Go to the Options menu and choose Open Global Options File. Scroll all the way to then end of the file and write

import scite-context-user

and save the file (you may have to fiddle with the file rights to get this done). If you are the only ConTeXt user on that computer, you can also put the import command into the User Options File.

Close/restart SciTe.

Ready, steady, test!

Now you are ready to go. Start SciTE and open a ConTeXt document (if you have any) or try with a simple "Hello world":


Hello, world!


Save the document as something.tex, e.g. helloworld.tex. The syntax highlighting should come on and show the ConTeXt codes differently than the text itself.


Now press Ctrl+F12 to process your file and auto-open the resulting pdf in your default pdf reader (most often Adobe Acrobat Reader). The first run will take a while, but if things starts happening, you probably have working ConTeXt.

If you just get a one-line complaint about mtxrun not being found, go back to Step 3 of ConTeXt installation and check you don't have any typos in the search path address. Then reboot and retry.