The following example aims to produce an svg output, using tikz library animations.

% main.tex
\documentclass[tikz, dvisvgm]{standalone}
\tikz \node
  :fill opacity = {0s="0", 5s="1"}
  :rotate = {6s="0", 10s="360", repeats, restart=false}
  [fill=blue!20, draw=blue, ultra thick, circle] {Hello!};

In the tex -> dvi/xdv process, xelatex -no-pdf main produces latex3 error

! LaTeX3 Error: Backend request inconsistent with engine: using 'xdvipdfmx'
(LaTeX3)        backend.

But both pdflatex -output-format=dvi main and lualatex -output-format=dvi main work fine. I am using

  • LaTeX2e <2020-02-02> patch level 2
  • L3 programming layer <2020-02-14>

This might be related to LaTeX2e release 2020-02-02, since in this release expl3 is packaged into latex format.


Why the example works for both pdflatex and lualatex, but not xelatex? Is this a problem?


Clear the latex3 inner macro storing backend name before \documentclass fixes the problem.

\str_clear:N \c_sys_backend_str
\documentclass[tikz, dvisvgm]{standalone}
... ...
  • Can dvisvgm handle a xdv from xelatex? Feb 19, 2020 at 14:53
  • 1
    @UlrikeFischer Yes. dvisvgm recognizes xdv as dvi version 5 to 7. With the workaround, dvisvgm produces valid svg from xdv. Feb 19, 2020 at 14:58
  • Then we should allow for this. Add an issue to the latex3 tracker at GitHub. Feb 19, 2020 at 15:03
  • What do you gain by using xelatex compared to dvilualatex? Feb 19, 2020 at 15:45
  • @UlrikeFischer Added here github.com/latex3/latex3/issues/677. Currently and personally, no expected gain. I use xelatex by default since I need the xetex-only package xeCJK to handle Chinese. So I encounter the reported problem incidentally. Feb 19, 2020 at 15:54

1 Answer 1


This problem has been reported to and fixed by latex3 [1]. The fix is contained in l3kernel 2020-02-21 [2].

[1] https://github.com/latex3/latex3/issues/677

[2] https://github.com/latex3/latex3/blob/2020-02-21/l3kernel/CHANGELOG.md#2020-02-21

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