What is ConTeXt

From ConTeXt wiki
Revision as of 23:08, 2 June 2007 by (talk)

In short

(This blurb written by Adityam)

ConTeXt is a document preparation system based on the TeX typesetting system. It was designed with the same general-purpose aims as LaTeX, but being younger reflects much more recent thinking about the structure of the markup, is more modular in its conception, and more monolithic in its building. ConTeXt gives more control to the "end user" and makes it easier to create new layout without learning TeX macro language. ConTeXt is consistent in its design, and does not suffer from the "package clashes" in LaTeX.

ConTeXt also integrates MetaFun which is a superset of MetaPost and a powerful system for vector graphics. Metafun can be used as a stand alone product, but its strength lies in the ability to enhance the document layout with highly accurate graphic elements.

ConTeXt allows the users to use markup in different languages. Markup in English, Dutch, German, French and Italian is supported at present. ConTeXt allows the user to use different engines (pdftex, XeTeX, Aleph) without changing the user interface. ConText is developed at a fast pace and is also an example of the free-software philosophy of "release often", sometimes twice a day!

This system was developed from 1990 by Hans Hagen from PRAGMA Advanced Document Engineering (Pragma ADE), a Netherlands-based company.

In a bit more detail

(From in-en-04.pdf)

ConTEXt can be used to typeset complex and large collections of documents, like educational materials, user guides and technical manuals. Such documents often have high demands regarding structure, design and accessibility. Easy maintenance, reuse of content and typographic consistency are important prerequisites.

ConTEXt is developed for those who are responsible for producing such documents. ConTEXt is written in the typographical programming languages TEX. For using ConTEXt, no TEX-- programming skills and no technical background are needed. Some basic knowledge of typography and document design will enable you to use the full power of ConTEXt.

ConTEXt is parameter driven and the user interface supports several languages, like english, german and dutch. This means that those less familiar with the english language can choose the interface that suits them best. Of course ConTEXt can typeset in many languages.

Originally ConTEXt was written as tool for writing complex, constantly changing and extensive educational documents. Although much functionality originates there, ConTEXt has proven to be quite suitable to perform many other complex typesetting tasks. Some features are:

  • automatic placement of figures, formulas, tables and other kind of floating bodies
  • automatic generation of lists of abbreviations, synonyms, and whatever needs to be sorted
  • automatic numbering of footnotes
  • adapting footers and headers to the current page content
  • extensive formatting of itemizations in more levels
  • consistent typesetting of legends to formulas
  • maintaining several registers, if needed with extensive interactive support
  • extensive cross referencing capabilities
  • generating lists of used figures, tables, formulas and more
  • forcing rigourous consistency in emphasizing parts of the text
  • managing documents in a project environment
  • automatic placement of marginal notes
  • typesetting in more than one column
  • identifying textual elements in such a way that they can be hidden, moved and reused when needed (questions, answers, definitions, etc.)
  • using text in more that one document, if needed with a different layout
  • automatic hyphenation of words as well as adapt to language specific typographic needs
  • inclusion of illustrations in standardized formats from other applications
  • using color
  • easy change of layout, while guarding consistent typography
  • providing multiple tables of contents and lists, at all levels, to provide optimal accessibility
  • automatic numbering of definitions, lemmas and other structural components
  • automatic numbering of figures, tables, and other floating bodies
  • automatic makeup of tables and formulas

ConTEXt supports the PDF format and is able to directly produce highly interactive PDF files, using PDFTEX. All cross references are automatically converted to hyperlinks. Such documents can be viewed and consulted with Acrobat. ConTEXt can provide all kind of navigational aids, that can be activated without programming. Electronic versions of documents thereby become very useful in educational settings. The potentials of PDF is available to the user: complex forms and JavaScript’s are no problem for ConTEXt. PRAGMA ADE has developed ConTEXt in--house mainly to suit its own and customers wishes concerning developing educational documents. Flexibility in layout, reuse of content, and maintenance are keywords. For more information and examples we refer you to www.pragma-ade.nl.

TODO: This should be expanded and somewhat rewritten. Once it is expanded and rewritten, it should probably be ported back to Wikipedia as well, since it's a fairly small article for them. (See: To-Do List)