Not sure if this is appropriate for TEX.SX, but I'll ask anyway. Though not a question on the use or feature of (La)TeX and friends, this question is relevant inasmuch as it is about the financial aspect of the development of TeX-related systems.

I'm curious how (La)TeX (and related) projects are financially supported. I can understand how individual packages can be written by TeX enthusiasts (in their spare time, presumably). Thus financial support is not really an issue in those cases. This is like how one would spend a Sunday afternoon writing a Wikipedia article on mathematics or English literature, simply because they are interested in those topics. A previous question addresses the time devotion aspect of LaTeX development.

But it seems unlikely, to me at least, that a random group of TeX enthusiats can just pull off a big LaTeX project purely as a hobby (I imagine that LaTeX3 for example would require a tremendous amount of time commitment and large scale coordination). Wikipedia solicits donation once a year. But I haven't seen anything similar in LaTeX (although LaTeX has a much smaller user group than Wikipedia).

I hope the talk of money wouldn't offend anyone here.

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    You are free to send a donation to TUG, to be used for various purposes :-)
    – Joseph Wright
    Apr 24, 2013 at 17:20
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    But it seems unlikely, to me at least, that a random group of TeX enthusiasts can just pull off a big LaTeX project purely as a hobby latex2e was written on a purely voluntary basis by a group of tex enthusiasts. Later sales of the Companion later helped with travel money and things, but none of us were doing it as part of our main job. Apr 24, 2013 at 18:01
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    I think that the reason LaTeX2e is in need of a rewrite and LaTeX3 takes so long to come out is that they are voluntary projects. Not saying that as criticism though; maybe if a company was behind it, LaTeX would suck more than MS Office :) This enthusiastic nature creates all the magic around it.
    – marczellm
    Apr 24, 2013 at 19:30
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    @JosephWright: Just donated an insignificant amount to TUG :)
    – Herr K.
    Apr 24, 2013 at 23:08

2 Answers 2


To the best of my knowledge all TeX projects are essentially volunteer efforts with some small financial support through donations via the TeX user groups.

As far as the development of LaTeX2e is concerned, that was largely financed through 3 people donating 50% of their royalties for the LaTeX Companion book to the project --- however, in any case, it was not a project that would have supported any of its members (the time and effort put in by the people in the core team over the years was always "for free", we only financed support to go to conferences and the like).

So, as unlikely as it sounds: it was a bunch of "random TeX enthusiasts" who pulled it off, and as I said, the same is true for all other projects I know of in the TeX space, whether it is something like TeX Live, or CTAN, or ConTeXt, or pdfTeX, or LuaTeX, or ...

So consider yourself lucky to get this kind of support for free ... and feel invited to support those projects through donations via TUG.

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    There was one notable exception: NTS was completely paid-for-work financed by DANTE et.al. Other projects got and get funding from DANTE/TUG/etc. But mostly people are crazy enough to do it in their spare time for free, maybe getting a little bit of money from the sale of books (but Don and Leslie are probably the only ones in the history of (La)TeX to actually make a profit there). Apr 26, 2013 at 20:01
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    @MartinSchröder you are right, I forgot about that case. However it falls into the type I mentioned in my comment above: very clear and well-defined deliverable and in that sense a simple task that can be planned with a defined budget. And note: only the clearly defined part "reimplement TeX 1-2-1" every came into being, the creative part of what to use with it to get it on the next level didn't work out. Apr 27, 2013 at 7:59

The TeX project I work on (https://www.speedata.de/) is a purely commercial driven venture (but open source). Is is in the strict sense a TeX project, but not recognized as such, since it is not in any way compatible with LaTeX, ConTeXt or anything similar.

The aim is not in preparing documents as we know but database driven catalogs, price lists, data sheets and other recurring, highly structured documents while using all the nice things TeX offers (great typography for example).

That said: some by-products are (or will be) packaged as TeX/LaTeX packages. For example I have created a solid a qr-code encoding library in Lua, I just need to find some time to wrap it up in a TeX/LaTeX package. The fontloader could also be extracted. Currently I am working on a pure Lua XPath library...

  • If it's open source, what's the commercial aspect of the project then?
    – Herr K.
    May 2, 2013 at 20:39
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    @KevinC The commercial aspect: a) I earn my money with it, b) the development is paid by other companies, c) I don't focus on the end-users, although they are more than welcome to use the software.
    – topskip
    May 3, 2013 at 6:48

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