So it's clearly just a super-rough prototype, which would be fine except that when it brands itself as "its job is to produce beautiful printed documents"... it gives the impression that it already does this, when the reality is clearly far, far away.
I think the project needs to be honest about where it's at.
For instance, the foundation of the house is most critical but when everyone looks at the foundation and asks, “where’s the house? This house can’t be much they brand themselves as a beautiful château but all it is is a big hole in the ground...”
A project like this is no minor task! :)
I mean, it's at 3000+ commits and 5+ years so it's not exactly a new project. There's something to be said for doing fewer things but doing them really well.
I was hoping to be able to soften this criticism by saying "at least it looks better than the output of the last layout engine I wrote", which would not be a hard bar to clear (http://canonical.org/~kragen/dercuano.20191230.pdf is full of egregious typographical sins), but https://github.com/sile-typesetter/sile/commit/e72aafd58f855... (Liddell & Scott, I would have thought? Although it has no title page, table of contents, or even headwords, and https://archive.org/details/greekenglishlex00lidduoft/page/x... contains about 20× as much text) seems to be missing most of the definitions and doesn't even look that good. The first entry, αδην, defined by Liddell & Scott as "to one's fill" with 12 lines of elaboration, reads simply, "αδην adv. .". (Except with the proper diacritics, of course.)
That's probably just a bug or something, but I am therefore unfortunately unable to soften my criticism with such a compliment.
The kerning doesn't look great, but that's the fonts (DejaVu Sans + Libertine AFAICT).
Thank you helping me be slightly less of an arrogant jerk!
If these are the examples to pitch the system... it doesn't seem ready for primetime. That's OK. Every project has to start somewhere, but the README could stand to frame that a little better.
On a practical note, it may be worth exploring other options: groff and TeXMacs (no affiliation with TeX or emacs).
You’ve probably read a bunch of very good papers typeset in TeX.
I'm sympathetic to the motivations that would lead someone to write a new typesetting engine. The problem is that in terms of essentially bug-free behavior and being completely understood and documented, TeX sets a bar that, despite its age and certain kind of clunky, is very, very high.
A bit from 2016: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12411446
Practically speaking, I think if they wanted users to adopt this, the best thing they could do would be to write an output format for Pandoc or similar. I could try this today if such a mode were available.
From the microtype package for latex:
"The microtype package provides a LaTeX interface to the
micro-typographic extensions ... : most prominently, character protrusion and font expansion, furthermore the adjustment of interword spacing and additional kerning, as well as hyphenatable letterspacing (tracking) and the possibility to disable all or selected ligatures."
Context free grammars are more expressive than regular expressions, but less expressive than full-blown programming languages.
If you've got a spare 100 or so hours and you're interested in learning more, there's a good lecture series on YouTube about this stuff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOsMcgIK95k&list=PLbtzT1TYeo...
Tex is no fun to use but this system is years away from being an alternative.