[metapost] Does MetaPost catch on? (was: [mp-implementors] mpman: command-line syntax)

Stephan Hennig mailing_list at arcor.de
Thu Sep 2 15:02:12 CEST 2010

[ copying to the MetaPost list ]

Am 02.09.2010 01:27, schrieb Karl Berry:
>      What is the reason MetaPost is so tightly coupled to kpathsea and web2c?
> Um.  I'm not sure where this question is coming from.

Yes, that was a rather short question.  What I am wondering is, why is 
MetaPost so unpopular outside TeX world?  For MetaFont, there is this 
thesis that the creative craft of designing fonts and the abstract 
mathematical approach MetaFont takes go well together for the program, 
but not for the users.  That is, the creative people are not the ones 
that love to think about what they do in an abstract model.


For MetaPost, I think this doesn't hold.  MetaPost is much more aiming 
at technically affine people that are used to think in models than 
MetaFont.  Still, I haven't heard of MetaPost being used outside TeX 
world as a tool with it's own benefit to users: making technical 
drawings in a vector format, containing typeset text.  The typesetting 
could be achieved without TeX by bundling MetaPost with troff and a nice 
set of fonts.

> MetaPost was written as a Pascal .web, very similar to mf.web as far
> as external operations were concerned. It had to be ported to
> C/Unix/etc. just like everything else. So I integrated it into the
> web2c-based distribution as a matter of course, so as to use the
> common routines for compilation and file searching. It was the only
> reasonable thing to do.

It had escaped to me that the purpose of web2C is actually porting 
across operating systems (PDP --> Unix etc.) until now!

> Also, the coupling is a good thing, not a bad thing.

My question wasn't meant offensive.  It's just that I fear the coupling 
to TeX distributions is hampering wider adoption of MetaPost.

> Until kpse, every TeX-related program had different rules and code
> for finding files.  It was a big pain for both users and developers.
> (Basically, everyone had to set different envvars to placate each
> program -- we still see fallout from that very frequently today.)

Hm, a stand-alone MetaPost distribution as outlined above would really 
need to be able to use system fonts, that is, OTF fonts, the same way 
XeTeX and LuaTeX do.  Taco, Hans, are there any plans into that direction?

Best regards,
Stephan Hennig

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