perltex man page

perltex — enable LaTeX macros to be defined in terms of Perl code


perltex [--help] [--latex=program] [--[no]safe] [--permit=feature] [--makesty] [latex options]


LaTeX -- through the underlying TeX typesetting system -- produces beautifully typeset documents but has a macro language that is difficult to program. In particular, support for complex string manipulation is largely lacking. Perl is a popular general-purpose programming language whose forte is string manipulation. However, it has no typesetting capabilities whatsoever.

Clearly, Perl's programmability could complement LaTeX's typesetting strengths. perltex is the tool that enables a symbiosis between the two systems. All a user needs to do is compile a LaTeX document using perltex instead of latex. (perltex is actually a wrapper for latex, so no latex functionality is lost.) If the document includes a "\usepackage{perltex}" in its preamble, then "\perlnewcommand" and "\perlrenewcommand" macros will be made available. These behave just like LaTeX's "\newcommand" and "\renewcommand" except that the macro body contains Perl code instead of LaTeX code.


perltex accepts the following command-line options:

Display basic usage information.
Specify a program to use instead of latex. For example, "--latex=pdflatex" would typeset the given document using pdflatex instead of ordinary latex.
Enable or disable sandboxing. With the default of --safe, perltex executes the code from a "\perlnewcommand" or "\perlrenewcommand" macro within a protected environment that prohibits “unsafe” operations such as accessing files or executing external programs. Specifying --nosafe gives the LaTeX document carte blanche to execute any arbitrary Perl code, including that which can harm the user's files. See Safe for more information.
Permit particular Perl operations to be performed. The --permit option, which can be specified more than once on the command line, enables finer-grained control over the perltex sandbox. See Opcode for more information.
Generate a LaTeX style file called noperltex.sty. Replacing the document's "\usepackage{perltex}" line with "\usepackage{noperltex}" produces the same output but does not require PerlTeX, making the document suitable for distribution to people who do not have PerlTeX installed. The disadvantage is that noperltex.sty is specific to the document that produced it. Any changes to the document's PerlTeX macro definitions or macro invocations necessitates rerunning perltex with the --makesty option.

These options are then followed by whatever options are normally passed to latex (or whatever program was specified with "--latex"), including, for instance, the name of the .tex file to compile.


In its simplest form, perltex is run just like latex:

perltex myfile.tex

To use pdflatex instead of regular latex, use the --latex option:

perltex --latex=pdflatex myfile.tex

If LaTeX gives a “"trapped by operation mask"” error and you trust the .tex file you're trying to compile not to execute malicious Perl code (e.g., because you wrote it yourself), you can disable perltex's safety mechansisms with --nosafe:

perltex --nosafe myfile.tex

The following command gives documents only perltex's default permissions (":browse") plus the ability to open files and invoke the "time" command:

perltex --permit=:browse --permit=:filesys_open
  --permit=time myfile.tex


perltex honors the following environment variables:

Specify the filename of the LaTeX compiler. The LaTeX compiler defaults to “"latex"”. The "PERLTEX" environment variable overrides this default, and the --latex command-line option (see "Options") overrides that.


While compiling jobname.tex, perltex makes use of the following files:

log file written by Perl; helpful for debugging Perl macros
information sent from LaTeX to Perl
information sent from Perl to LaTeX
“flag” file whose existence indicates that jobname.topl contains valid data
“flag” file whose existence indicates that jobname.frpl contains valid data
“flag” file whose existence indicates that jobname.ffpl has been deleted
file generated by noperltex.sty for each PerlTeX macro invocation


perltex's sandbox defaults to what Opcode calls “":browse"”.

See Also

latex(1), pdflatex(1), perl(1), Safe(3pm), Opcode(3pm)


Scott Pakin, scott+pt@pakin.org


Explore man page connections for perltex(1).