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I want to be able to cleanly use my letterhead template with many different input files.

I have created a shell scrip that invokes:

context --silent --purgeall --path=./img content/$1

But have found no arguments that could replace the less than optimal purgeall (as I don't actually want to purge them, I just don't want to see them). Are there any?

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If 2nd==3rd, use --result=..... – Aditya Feb 10 '13 at 5:52
2nd==3rd separation most important. Or some answer indicating that "you're doing it wrong. If you just organize your files like such and such, you'll be fine." – Brian Ballsun-Stanton Feb 10 '13 at 6:00
AFAIK, context does not provide such a feature. One option will be to put your letterhead template in TEXMFHOME so that it is found from all locations, or you could keep the template files in the parent or grandparent directory. Of course, even in these cases, context will generate PDF and tuc file in the same directory and you'll have to move them manually. – Aditya Feb 10 '13 at 13:49
Moving files around and doing the compilation in a temporary directory (or dot files in the current directory, as Emacs does with compiling regions) is a possibility. It sounds like more work than is worthwhile. Aditya's solution is good: note also that Context recognises the TEXMFLOCAL environment variable. – Charles Stewart Feb 13 '13 at 10:30
@Aditya Could you make your comment here into an answer? – Joseph Wright Aug 7 '13 at 10:56

The context script does not provide a way to specify the directory for output and auxiliary files.

One option is to use --result option, i.e.,

context --result=pdfs/output.pdf input.tex

which will move the .pdf and the .tuc and .log files to the pdfs/ directory.

For images and tex file, you can specify you can either use the --path switch as you are doing right now, or specify the path in the main tex file using \usepath and \setupexternalfigures[directory=...].

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