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Motivation

TeX.SE as well as external resources contain information from as far as 2010 regarding e.g. LuaTeX, XeLaTeX, microtype, and popular dilemmas such as KOMA/memoir or babel/polyglossia, which seem to be outdated… or are they?

Overview

For example, XeLaTeX is still labeled as beta and the last version seems to be from 28 May 2013 while microtype 2.5 alpha has been around since 23 May 2013. LaTeX3 also seems to be halting – the last issue of LaTeX3 news was published on 27 July 2012, but there has been a promise of two updates per year. The last available unicode-math (0.7e) was released on 4 April 2013 and the list continues.

The only apparently actively developed one is LuaTeX, but it has already been 7 years since the initial release and yet a stable release is not even in sight (0.78.2 preview was published on 13 January 2014). It was originally expected to reach 1.0 in 2002, the LuaTeX reference manual indicates it is due spring 2014 (which is now), and the most recent roadmap expects LuaTeX 1.0 bundled with TeX Live 2016, which is basically a 14 year delay.

Update [2014-12-27]: The 1.0 release has once again been postponed to TeX Live 2018. Hence, I rest my case.

Question

What is currently the most modern way of TeX-based typesetting?

It should include microtypographic features, UTF-8 support, preferably OTF fonts and compatibility with most basic classes like KOMA/memoir and packages such as pgfplots and biblatex with the use of biber.

Addendum

I tried to clarify this question as much as I could but I am having trouble defining the issue which could either be a sign of my irrational motives or the result of overall vagueness in this area. Yes, I believe it is vague and confusing – ranging from popular TeX.SE answers that include superfluous settings and abstract substantiation for preferring one of the alternatives (“babel is more complete than polyglossia, which is more modern”), to obscure information and the never ending confusion about TeX/LaTeX/LaTeX2e/LaTeX3/Xe(La)TeX/Lua(La)TeX/pdf(La)TeX/eTeX/ConTeXt/whatever else is out there.

I have decided to ignore XeLaTeX and experiment with LuaLaTeX with the option of switching back to pdfLaTeX should things go wrong. Thanks for your patience and apologies for the blabbering. :-)

closed as unclear what you're asking by Martin Schröder, ChrisS, Jesse, barbara beeton, Guido Mar 21 '14 at 2:36

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  • related: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/36/… – jub0bs Mar 20 '14 at 16:00
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    I'm afraid you are mixing up many different things: for example microtype is a LaTeX(2e) package, XeTeX is an engine, ... Specifically on LaTeX3, there should be a new release very soon (one issue outstanding: team discussion ongoing), and if you look at check-ins you'll see things are happening. Also, remember that 'stable' in the TeX world tends to me 'frozen for ever': notice that BibTeX has reached v0.99d and is never likely to reach v1! – Joseph Wright Mar 20 '14 at 17:08
  • @JosephWright I realise that this is a broad question but I have a good understanding of the differences. I connected XeTeX with microtype because there has been support for character protrusion in XeTeX for quite some time but the development seems to have stopped there. LaTeX3 is mainly for the benefit of package writers and for programming tasks as far as I am aware – my interest focuses on the area of end-user usability more, though. – Harold Cavendish Mar 20 '14 at 17:37
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    @HaroldCavendish On LaTeX3, the current release code is mainly focussed on programming (expl3), but the 'big ideas' go well beyond that and indeed will be covered in the next LaTeX3 News (which I will push the team about). – Joseph Wright Mar 20 '14 at 17:44
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    @HaroldCavendish On the structures, we've had several questions in the past covering the engines/formats/packages business. I'm not sure what we can cover here that is different. (That's a general problem with 'What is the status of ..' questions: just because an answer is not given in the last say 6 months doesn't mean it's not still correct.) – Joseph Wright Mar 20 '14 at 17:46
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What is currently the most modern way of TeX-based typesetting? It should include microtypographic features, UTF-8 support, preferably OTF fonts and compatibility with most basic classes like KOMA/memoir and packages such as pgfplots and biblatex with the use of biber.

Apologies if this answer is a bit tongue-in-cheek. The most "modern" from my angle is a tufte-book template I am using with the additional three macros I added this morning. I use the pdfLaTeX engine, it is capable of utf8, using inputenc and has no problems with pgfplots.

To allay your fears LaTeX2e is here to stay for a long time. From a user perspective, I see the direction of development going this way: XeLaTeX/LuaTeX will evolve slowly and they are important to persons using them with languages or fonts that are difficult to work with using LaTeX2e and pdfLaTeX. If you are one of those users, I understand your concerns and your impatience.

LaTeX3 is becoming more and more important to developers and if the output routines offer a programmer interface a lot of the constraints of LaTeX2e will be removed. At that point we might see some unexpected breakthroughs.

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    Thanks, it is perhaps the best that can be said. I am worried about the user base, though, since most students I know (many of them brainy, with huge potential) use LaTeX because they have to (the supervisor said so) and ditch it as soon as the thesis or dissertation is done. Hopefully there will be breakthroughs in user-friendliness as well. :-) – Harold Cavendish Mar 21 '14 at 9:30

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