Read Me

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What follows is the text from [mreadme.pdf], adapted to wiki markup.

This page is generated from mreadme.pdf on 2005.05.31.

Taco 14:26, 31 May 2005 (CEST)

Read Me


This document presents licence information on ConTeXt, a macro package written in the typographical programming language TeX. This document is not an installation manual. For installation of ConTeXt and its accompanying programs we refer to the following documents:

In addition you may need the introduction and/or reference manual. There are more documents, but you need only these to get started. Unless you are going to change and redistribute ConTeXt, you can quit reading now.


[1.1] The name ConTeXt is reserved for the distribution as provided by Pragma ADE. This distribution is copyrighted and licensed in the spirit of the gnu general public licence. To prevent inconsistency in distributions and to ease support, we will stress some details of adapting sources and distributions.

[1.2] The ConTeXt distribution includes TeX macro files as well as some utility programs written in Perl, Perl/Tk, and Ruby as well as graphic macros written in the METAPOST language. The same conditions apply to all files.

[1.3] The logos associated to Pragma ADE, ConTeXt, TeXutil and related programs are copyrighted by Pragma ADE and may not be used for other purposes than their intended usage without permission.

[1.4] Whenever one of the source files of ConTeXt mentions the file being copyrighted by Pragma ADE, the conditions mentioned in this document apply.


[2.1] Pragma ADE originally developed ConTeXt for producing highly structured documents as used in educational settings and process industry. Currently ConTeXt is used by publishers and in education, in profit and non profit organizations. There are also numerous private users. These all depend on ConTeXt being stable system.

[2.2] One of the objectives of ConTeXt is the low entry level, that is, for day-to-day use no special technical (and no in-depth TeX) knowledge is needed. This is reflected in the user interface. We don't expect users to be experts on installing TeX and adapting macros for local use.

[2.3] We try to keep ConTeXt in sync with developments in publishing. So far this has lead to support for output formats like pdf and alternative coding standards like xml. It has also resulted in a couple of user interfaces and tools.

[2.4] Further development of ConTeXt takes place at Pragma ADE with the help and input from some active users. All kinds of comment from users is welcomed and will be taken seriously. When we talk about ConTeXt, we refer to the version as distributed by Pragma ADE and described in the official reference manual.

[2.5] ConTeXt consists of several series of modules, that can be recognized by the fact that the filename starts with four characters and a dash. These core modules take care of languages, fonts, general typography, data abstraction, and manipulations. On top of this core, domain and task specific modules and styles are (and will become) available. These can be recognized by their filename that start with a character followed by a dash.

[2.6] For special purposes, not covered by existing functionality, users can write their own extensions. ConTeXt provides hooks into the core routines. These are documented in the source code.

[2.7] ConTeXt is available for free for everyone who want to use it. Distributors are free to choose between the latest official release and the (in most cases stable) beta version.

[2.8] Experimental, and thereby potentially non-stable, versions as well as certain dedicated modules, will be distributed under different conditions.

[2.9] Modules to ConTeXt or adapted source code written by Pragma ADE for third parties as part of a project may not be distributed outside that organization. They may become part of the public distribution, upon mutual agreement.

Public version

[3.1] ConTeXt is available as free software in the spirit of the gnu general public licence.

[3.2] This public version is the "official public ConTeXt distribution". However, ConTeXt as part of one of the TeX distributions supported by user groups can also be classified as official.

[3.3] The official version (i.e. the original zipped archive recognized by the prefix cont-) may only be redistributed as a whole and under this licence.

[3.4] This licence does not automatically apply to third party extensions.

Third party developments

[4.1] This sections will not introduce limitations in use that conflict with the gnu general public licence. We only want to make sure that the average user will get the ConTeXt they expect and that we can continue to support users efficiently.

[4.2] Users are encouraged to develop modules cq. layout definition files for ConTeXt. However, the interface of such modules should fit the general scheme philosophy.

[4.3] Keywords and command names should conform to the already defined ones and therefore not clash with existing functionality. An example of extending the user interface can be seen in the ppchTeX module.

[4.4] On request, additional keywords and command names can be approved and/or assigned by the ConTeXt Task Force and, when accepted, will be added to the validated definition files. The same applies to the names of files and auxiliary variables. These should conform to the naming scheme laid down in the documentation.

[4.5] Third party modules (and layout files) will not automatically become part of the ConTeXt distribution, but will be collected and distributed separately. One reason for this is that they fall outside the maintainance responsibility of Pragma ADE. This also means that for instance in the texmf directory structure, the context/base, context/extra and context/sample locations are reserved for the official distribution. Additions should go into context/third and user specific things into context/user.

[4.6] We strongly advice users who write their own macros for ConTeXt, to package them in document specific environments or third party modules (prefixed by t-).

[4.7] Users may not change the official distribution and redistribute that changed version as official. This will ensure the integrity of ConTeXt. Local settings cq. bug fixes can be added in the files cont-sys and cont-new. Distributers may add configuration settings to cont-usr and cont-sys.

[4.8] When adapted versions of ConTeXt are distributed, these versions must contain the original distribution as a separate item. The runtime versions (format files) must have different names and changed files must have an additional \writestatus message, expressing that something is changed. The rationale behind this is that some modules are generic, and are sometimes distributed on request separately. When distributing self contained modules and styles, a full distribution of originals is not required.

[4.9] Because many TeX systems support recursive directory search, those who write extensions or change files, must make sure that the original ConTeXt does not suffer from loading the wrong files. We realize that this is not always easy, but please keep in mind that there are many users who cannot sort out these problems. Together we must guarantee that when users want to run original ConTeXt, nothing unexpected is loaded, because it makes support nearly impossible.

[4.10] Because ConTeXt is a monolithic system, and because programming hooks are provided, adaptations and extensions should be put and/or loaded in the file cont-new which itself is loaded at run time. That way, users can still benefit from official updates.

[4.11] The auxiliary programs may be adapted to local conditions, such as operating systems specifics. The functionality however must not be changed.

[4.12] The same rules apply for the METAPOST macro files as for the TeX macro files.

[4.13] Support of the official public version of ConTeXt is available from the ConTeXt mailing list hosted by the ntg.


[5.1] User manuals, reference documentation, module related manuals, quick reference guides, up-to-date documents, faqs, documented sources, are available in printable and/or electronic form at the Pragma ADE site and its mirrors. These documents are copyrighted by Pragma ADE and serve as reference to the official version. You may print them and give away copies.

[5.2] Users are invited to provide additional documentation to users. The official documentation provided by Pragma ADE is maintained by and generated at Pragma ADE and available at its website. Pointers to third party contributions can be found at the Pragma ADE website.

[5.3] Because the manuals provided by Pragma ADE are also examples of what can be done with ConTeXt, their layout is bound to these documents. This also applies to the ConTeXt demonstration suite. Therefore, in order to avoid confusion, we strongly advice authors of third party documentation and demos not to use the same layout characteristics, graphics and special tricks. Examples of coding and tricks can be found in the style files that come with ConTeXt.


[6.1] Pragma ADE cannot guarantee the typographic quality and the functionality of the ConTeXt output.

[6.2] Typographic optimizations will be implemented and wishes cq. suggestions of users will be be honoured when possible. The best way to communicate this is the ConTeXt mailing list.

[6.3] When additional functionality is provided, downward compatibility will be guarded as good as possible.

[6.4] Users of experimental modules should be aware of the fact that due to further optimization and consistency, the functionality will only be stable when explicitly stated. The common user will hardly notice this limitation.

[6.5] Some core modules can be classified as generic, that is, they work with other macro packages as well (for instance supp-pdf). You may install them separately on your system, but in order to prevent conflicts in versions, we strongly advice separating them from the distributions.

[6.6] Undocumented macros and functionality are subjected to optimizations and relying on their presence can be "dangerous".


[7.1] The official ConTeXt archive is available at the Pragma ADE www site, as well as on mirrors of this site, provided by the ntg, ctan, and others. The free TeX distributions teTeX and fpTeX can be considered as a references to integrating ConTeXt into other TeX systems.

[7.2] We hereby grant permission to the de facto official TeX distributors teTeX, fpTeX and TeXlive to replace this licence with their own, i.e. their licence may supersede or enhance this one.

[7.3] ConTeXt may be distributed as part of a public distribution in the spirit of free distributions. The authors of ConTeXt appreciate being notified on this.

[7.4] Each distribution of ConTeXt should include a copy of this text.

Additional disclaimers

Because we don't want to be confronted with funny claims as a side effect of providing free software, we add a few disclaimers.

[8.1] By modifying or distributing the program (or any work based on the program), you indicate your acceptance of this license to do so, and all its terms and conditions for copying, distributing or modifying the program or works based on it. Nothing other than this license grants you permission to modify or distribute the program or its derivative works. These actions are prohibited by law. If you do not accept these terms and conditions, do not modify or distribute the program.

[8.2] The program is provided to you "as is", without warranty. There is no warranty for the program, either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose and noninfringement of third party rights. The entire risk as to the quality and performance of the program is with you. should the program prove defective, you assume the cost of all necessary servicing, repair or correction.

[8.3] In no event unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing will licensor, or any other party who may modify and/or redistribute the program as permitted above, be liable to you for damages, including any general, special, incidental or consequential damages arising out of the use or inability to use the program (including but not limited to loss of data or data being rendered inaccurate or losses sustained by you or third parties or a failure of the program to operate with any other programs), even if such holder or other party has been advised of the possibility of such damages.

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