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On Wed, 2005-11-16 at 02:22 +0100, Henrik Theiling wrote:
> Hi!
> 
> Arthaey Angosii <[log in to unmask]> writes:
> > As a general note, there is also the LaTeX for Conlangers mailing
> > list, at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/latex-for-conlangers/.
> >
> > Emaelivpeith And Rosta:
> > > (i) works a lot with truetype & unicode fonts,
> > > (ii) is a typography fetishist,
> >
> > LaTeX addresses both of these points, and and is especially well-known
> > for its superior typography. Your "ff fl fi" ligatures are correctly
> > handled with LaTeX. :)

Also, your "ffi ffl" ligatures, and there's even support for "fj" and
"ffj" ligatures, but you need to load external packages. (Other fonts
also have "st" and "ct" ligatures, or ones more appropriate for
typesetting Gothic texts in an old-fashioned style like "ae", "be", "de"
etc. ligatures. All without even blinking an eyelid!)

Also, newer versions of pdftex have all sorts of freaky features like
allowing punctuation to hang into the right margin or stretching
characters marginally to avoid bad hyphenation. The stretched glyphs are
quite unnoticeable, from the demo files I've looked at! (Needs 1.21b or
later I think, but 1.30 is apparently better at it---but I still have
1.11a or something that comes with my distribution of TeX that comes
with my distribution of GNU/Linux, so I haven't used them.)

Really, TeX and LaTeX users are ten times the typography fetishist
you'll ever be, and there'll be a package or method on CTAN (the
Comprehensive TeX Archive Network) that will let you do it. Much of this
is in spite of, not because of, TeX's original design, so you might find
you don't actually run "tex"/"latex" to get something to work, but
another program that's based on tex. Donald Knuth wrote it to publish
his _Art of Computer Programming_, and was pleasantly surprised to find
that others wanted to use it, too!

> I'm a bit puzzled about your answer (i) here: I admit to be a bit
> behind cutting edge Linux and LaTeX technology as my normal system is
> some four years old, but is it the case that LaTeX can use Truetype
> and/or Unicode fonts these days and that it reads the input in
> e.g. UTF-8?

There are tools which will extract TeX font metrics from TrueType fonts
and tell you how to tell the various TeX-to-PDF converters (such as
pdftex or dvipdfm) how to insert the fonts. It's been a long time since
I've wanted to do this, though, so I can't remember the details. I'm
sure google can though!

LaTeX is set up to access all the fonts you ever want to use (i.e.
Computer Modern Roman and kin, and Palatino ;) and then some (e.g.
Times); or else the fonts you can get from CTAN are easily added to it,
such as TIPA (with Computer Modern or Times shapes) for IPA or Computer
Modern Tengwar.

As for Unicode, yes! You can have input as UTF-8. Try loading the ucs
package, then passing the utf8 option to inputenc (i.e. in this order
include these commands:
        \usepackage[tipa]{ucs}
        \usepackage[utf8]{inputenc} 
The "tipa" argument to the IPA characters in Unicode into the respective
characters in the TIPA encodings. Note the word "convert"---this package
doesn't just give you access to code points about 255 in fonts, but
rather converts input in UTF-8 into the necessary commands that will
display it, so that if it sees the ə (schwa) character, it converts it
to \textschwa (or perhaps whatever \textschwa is converted to). Also
note that you can't do \'ə (that's backslash-apostrophe-schwa), you have
to do \'{ə} because as far as the TeX token parser is concerned, ə is
two characters still.

There's also the Omega, Lambda and Aleph projects. Omega gives TeX
native 16-bit support; Lambda is LaTeX-for-Omega, and Aleph is
e-TeX-for-Omega. For the moment, Unicode input is much easier via ucs
+inputenc then by touching these apparently unstable packages.

> I never encountered much frustration with LaTeX.

I'm yet to work out how to include graphics (particularly diagrams)
nicely and easily. You see in things *others* have done with it that
they clearly did them using TeX (text in them is Computer Modern Roman
for instance), but I don't know where to begin with that. I also find
that including things like JPEGs or even PDFs with pdftex always seems
to result in the wrong resolution being used, so you have to manually
specify the dimensions and then you still can't get it quite right.

Aside from images, I quite like (La)TeX.

--
Tristan.