For those new to it, TeX is a programming language that you use to create typeset documents rather than computer software. TeX is quite archaic in some ways, but it’s still the tool of choice for documents that require precision typography or ones that involve lots of mathematical equations, which makes it especially important in the sciences. Tectonic converts TeX files into PDF files.
user@host $ tectonic paper.tex Running TeX ... note: warnings were issued by the TeX engine; use --print and/or --keep-logs for details. Running BibTeX ... Rerunning TeX because bibtex was run ... Rerunning TeX because "paper.aux" changed ... Rerunning TeX because "paper.aux" changed ... Running xdvipdfmx ... Writing paper.pdf (383521 bytes) Skipped writing 3 intermediate files (use --keep-intermediates to keep them) user@host $
The name of the project is “Tectonic,” spelled and pronounced like a regular word because it is one. Enough with the cutesy obscurantism. In cases where the name might lead to ambiguities, it should be expanded to “Tectonic typesetting.”
If you’re feeling expansive, you can interpret the name as suggesting a large change in the TeX world. Or you can think of it as suggesting a salubrious offering for weary TeX users. Either way, the root of the word does go back to the ancient Greek τέκτων, ”carpenter,” which Donald Knuth — the creator of TeX and a devout Christian — might appreciate.
Tectonic would not have been possible without decades’ worth of hard work by the people behind LaTeX, TeXLive, XeTeX, and (x)dvipdfm-x. We stand on the shoulders of giants!
The Dataverse Project kindly hosts the large bundles of LaTeX resource files that enable Tectonic’s web-download capabilities.
Tectonic is licensed under the MIT License. This is the license under which the codebase from which it is primarily derived, XeTeX, is distributed. Various other elements of the TeX system on which Tectonic is based are licensed under other open-source licenses.