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I would like to give ConTeXt a shot. It is likely just me, but I am finding the installation guide on the wiki a little confusing, e.g.

  • Do I need Ruby or not? Does that depend on the installer, current TeX distribution, anything else?
  • Does the (one of the) GUI installers work? What is the difference between that and the command line installer?
  • If I install alongside a working TeX distribution, do I want the environment variables set globally or not? Why? Why not?
  • Do I use texexec.exe/rb? Do I use context.exe?

Some of the above questions, I think I know the answer to, but I'm not sure. Ideally, I would like to set up a TeXnicCenter output profile to build and view a ConTeXt file. Any advice would be appreciated.

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1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Do I need Ruby or not?

There are two versions of ConTeXt in use, MkII and MkIV. MkII uses texexec, Ruby and pdfTeX (or XeTeX) and is the frozen stable version. MkIV does not need Ruby, it is launched using context and uses LuaTeX as backend. This is the current development version.

If you don't have a good reason to use MkII I would advice to go for MkIV and not care about MkII.

Does that depend on the installer, current tex distribution, anything else?

If Ruby is installed, by default both versions, MkII and MkIV are installed. If Ruby is not present only MkIV can be used.

Does the (one of the) GUI installers work? What is the difference between that and the command line installer?

I never used a GUI installer. I would suggest to just try if it works. It should install the same distribution, ConTeXt standalone. In any case the command line install (using first-setup) is the preferred and supported method which should work in any case. You'll get a better experience if you also install the optional helper programs, but that's optional.

If I install alongside a working tex distribution, do I want the environment variables set globally or not? Why? Why not?

This depends on your workflow and personal preference and how you launch TeX. If you prefer to launch it from the command line or from an editor. If you mainly use MikTeX, you might want to have MikTeX in you PATH and not ConTeXt standalone. I personally have the ConTeXt standalone beta in my PATH by default. If I use older versions which are local to a project, I set up the PATH locally for that shell or within that editor session.

Do I use texexec.exe/rb? Do I use context.exe?

texexec launches MkII, context launches MkIV. As described above, you probalbly don't need to care about texexec. In the older documentation the examples using texexec can be replaced by context.

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A minor correction. Both texexec.exe and context.exe can use any engine by specifying --pdftex, --xetex, or --luatex. context.exe defaults to --luatex while texexec.exe defaults to --pdftex. –  Aditya Jan 21 '13 at 21:47
    
You're totally right. But that might confuse the OP even more. I think it's easier to just stick to context and forget about texexec. –  Marco Jan 21 '13 at 22:11
    
Thanks Marco, I launch TeX through my editor and would like to continue to do that. I would also like to launch ConTeXt through my editor. The information here was what confused me about the need for Ruby as it suggests that I need it. Do you know whether that information is outdated/incorrect? –  Scott H. Jan 21 '13 at 23:31

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