Please see the second response here.

You should try xelatex which is almost a drop in replacement for latex.

Leaving aside the technical part, which of no interest to the general audience here, I am interested in knowing what does this "almost a drop in replacement" mean?

I have a general feeling that this means something which will eventually/easily replace something, but I may be wrong.

We have other questions (A, B) here on "drop", but they seem to be different.

  • 10
    The correct phrase is drop-in replacement.
    – Helix Quar
    Mar 26 '14 at 8:46

It is not (a drop) (in) (replacement), but rather (a) (drop in) (replacement).

It is such a good replacement that you could take away the original, drop in the replacement, and not notice it. Well, almost, according to the text.

  • I searched google for the meaning of "drop-in" and what meaning I got is "visited on an informal basis without booking or appointments." And that meaning don't work here. So I am curious to known where from you got this meaning. Mar 27 '14 at 12:23
  • 2
    From usage. And yes, there are other meanings as well. Actually when I look on google, by far most of the links on the first page for drop in replacement fit the meaning I gave. I am actually wondering how much you tried to find an alternative, completely non-fitting menaning. Have a look at our neighbours at ELU.
    – oerkelens
    Mar 27 '14 at 12:36
  • Only one I found - wordnik.com/words/drop-in Mar 27 '14 at 13:05
  • If you type define drop in replacement into google you will find tons of examples that use it in the sense that I explained :)
    – oerkelens
    Mar 27 '14 at 13:13
  • There are two meanings of "drop in" that come to mind, and you've hit on them both. There is "drop in [to some place]", meaning to visit without booking. And there is "drop [something] in [to replace something else]", which is less common, except in idioms like "drop-in replacement". May 11 '14 at 9:12

This is something of a technical idiom. If you have a system of parts (e.g. a home computer), and you can pick up one module (e.g. a RAM stick) and "drop in" a new one in its place without fiddling about (because the connections are the same and the two sticks are the same size), then the new RAM stick is a "drop-in replacement" for the old one.

The phrase has since been transplanted from the physical realm into the virtual one, where a piece of software or a piece of code or really anything modular can be "dropped in" to where you took out the original thing, without significant alteration or reconfiguration.

So, it expresses a one-shot, effortless replacement of a part.

In this case, the syntax of the two LaTeXes is similar enough that you can switch over without having to update your code.

  • great answer, why not visit here since 2014?
    – AbstProcDo
    Dec 8 '17 at 12:12
  • @YumiTada: I've been here plenty since 2014. Dec 8 '17 at 17:37
  • Your reputations is of 872 comparing with 125k of SO.
    – AbstProcDo
    Dec 9 '17 at 4:45
  • @YumiTada: My reputation on SO is 251k, not 125k. Dec 11 '17 at 13:42

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