I sometimes recommend non-TeX solutions to questions here. For example, pdftk, pdfcrop, and imagemagick are tools I've recommended. My standard has been that I'll only recommend the non-TeX tool if I think it is better suited to the job.

Sometimes though I wonder if my recommendations are welcome in a group specifically focused on TeX. There are many shades of gray. For example, I doubt anyone here wants to know how to achieve an effect in MSWord. However, if someone tags their question with tikz, is it appropriate to give an answer using asymptote? Does it change your opinion if the asymptote solution is easier than the tikz solution? (I know that's subjective.)


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Solutions using alternative tools which fall within the 'TeX sphere' are entirely appropriate and have always been welcome. Obvious examples are that plain or ConTeXt solutions to LaTeX problems are often possible, or that picture mode, MetaPost, ... answers to TikZ question are often illustrative. For that to work, of course, there needs to be some care in how such answers are posted. In particular, they ideally will 'flag up' the difference of method and be written in a 'positive' way ('This is how I would achieve the effect using tool X ....').

  • I wonder though if languages like Python/Perl/Lua fall within the 'TeX sphere', but I suppose that's exactly what you mean by taking some care in how the answers are posted :) May 20, 2015 at 11:55
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    @SeanAllred I've occasionally included a perl script in my answer here. So far no one has complained to me about this. I think for some of us how may be more familiar with various command line tools such answers can be extremely useful: particularly if we don't necessarily know how to implement (or understand how the implementation works) in TeX and friends.
    – A.Ellett
    May 20, 2015 at 23:58

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