Linked by Andy Roberts on Mon 6th Jun 2005 18:19 UTC
Features, Office Anyone who has used Microsoft Word for a reasonable amount of time will recognise my very own Andy's Laws on Word:
Order by: Score:
Livecd?
by Victor Hooi on Mon 6th Jun 2005 18:32 UTC

Well, I had heard of Latex, but hadn't had a chance to try it out.

The Mathematics department produces all it's documents in PDF, and many of my friends send me stuff in .ps, and I'm fairly sure it was done in LaTex (or one of it's variants), and they always looked cool and professional =)

Maybe I should try it out...the latex-project.org site has some really good resources. There's a tex livecd here:

http://www.tug.org/texlive/

Does anybody know if there's a livecd version? (or is this a bad question?)

cya,
Victor

Spell checking on the fly is available in emacs
by Anon on Mon 6th Jun 2005 18:35 UTC

Just do M-x flyspell-mode
and it works...

Using LaTeX as a graphics generation language for games?
by aetherspoon on Mon 6th Jun 2005 18:36 UTC

There has been speculation at GameFAQs that LaTeX could be used to develop the graphical front ends for text-heavy games. Ie. the modern ports of nethack to Windows and the newly released Intel Mac OS X could benefit from the layout and formatting benefits offered by LaTeX. Combined with OpenGL accelerated rendering, the speculators state that this could be the comination necessary overcome the lack of innovation in modern day games.

That's great. I've not really tried Emacs although I'm well aware that it can do almost everything.

v AbiWord rocks.
by codergeek 2 on Mon 6th Jun 2005 18:43 UTC
Printing
by emacs on Mon 6th Jun 2005 18:51 UTC

The chief remaining killer "app" for me under WinXP is printing.
My HP LJ1320nw does nice booklets and such under WinXP.
Under Gentoo, with CUPS, I can print, and the duplexer shows up as an option under CUPS admin, but AbiWord doesn't actually use it (disclaimer: haven't seriously troubleshot yet).
If I can fully utilize the printer via LaTex -> PS, that would be one less reason to ever boot XP...

LyX
by anonymous on Mon 6th Jun 2005 18:54 UTC

LyX - www.lyx.org provides a nice WYSIWYM interface built on top of among others latex.
Try it. You won't ever write a word document again :-)

@Lyx
by Andy Roberts on Mon 6th Jun 2005 18:58 UTC

No need to plug Lyx since that was already done in the article itself (with a screenshot).

how I switched to LaTeX
by Greg on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:02 UTC

I remember taking the course on systems/network performance. The first assignment was to write lots of formulas and to include some charts/graphics. This is where I had a hell of the time using Microsoft tools.

1. Setting up the math formulas can be pain in a neck. Suppose you need a greek letter. You have to find the menu option, select that greek letter. How about making sure the font is appropriate, the size is correct? Difficult!

2. Including the graphics: what if the graphic doesn't fit at the remaining space of the page? So it will be moved somewhere. But how can you control it? Difficult again.

So I had a hell of the time, and fortunately instructor told us to try LaTeX. I've tried and got hooked immediately, and been using it ever since. The beauty of LaTeX is that it is a mark-up language. You just put all the staff into the ascii file, and compile it, as described in the article, to get DVI.
So, for instance, to put nicely spaced formula for, say, the law of sines I write
[
sin (alpha + beta) = sinalphacosbeta + cosalphasinbeta
]

Here the pair [ and ] delimits the 'math mode'. Math mode uses different spacing. Next note that alpha and beta will be typeset as a greek letters alpha and beta. Finally, note that I don't write 'sin' and 'cos' but rather 'sin' and 'cos'. LaTeX will use different fonts for 'sin' and 'cos' and put some small amount of space between, say, 'sin' and 'alpha'. The formula is centered in the middle of the line, and there is some space left at the top and bottom. The end result is nice and readable formula.

A second example is incluing the graphic. In LaTeX you need to save your graphic as EPS (extended postscript) file, and then include it into the text, with the syntax --- somethin like this: (not precise, I don't remember exactly right now):
begin{figure}[htbp]
includegraphics{parameters like file name, and resizing}
title
end{figure}

Parameters [htbp] means 'here, top, bottom, page'. LaTeX try to include graphics 'here' (that is, where it is defined), next at the top of page, next at the bottom, and finally move to next page. LaTeX has very sophisticated algorithm to figure out the most appropriate location of the graphics, and also provides some knobs to tweak that algorithm to your liking. Since this is EPS format, you can provide resizing parameters on a fly, like make the end result 1.5 larger than the original EPS file.

So the bottom line: if you write some documents which involve lots of formulas and lots of graphics/charts you have to include, give LaTeX a try.

@Printing
by Andy Roberts on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:04 UTC

Latex is just the typesetting engine - it creates the document, what you then do with that is upto you. It can be outputted to PS. Since you have CUPS set up, you can send the PS to the printer on the command line:

lpr -Pmyprinter -o sides=two-sided-long-edge filename.ps

where 'myprinter' is the name of the printer as setup by CUPS.

Absolutely true!
by Rayiner Hashem on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:05 UTC

I can't begin to tell you how much I detest word. It's totally insufficient for real documents. I just got done working on a 100 page proposal in Word and it was a major pain in the ass. The paper was an entry into an AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics) competition, so it had the works --- footnotes/endnotes, table of contents, tables of figures and tables, pictures, flowcharts, diagrams, very specific formatting requirements, etc, as well as seven people working on it at the same time.

Word fought us tooth-and-nail the whole way. From its broken layout and pagination model, to its tendency to allow a single keystroke totally screw up formatting, to its weird bugs (newer versions leave cursor garbage trails on the screen), everything annoyed us. It was even ridiculously slow, taking nearly a minute to load the 15MB document and taking ten seconds to save changes (a PITA for those like me who hit CTRL-S compulsively after every change). And this was on a 2.6GHz P4! It crashed a couple of times on me, and I'd estimate at least two dozen times between all seven of us, and that was just in the last month of the project.

Here's a list of the most egregious brain-damage:

- Chapter titles would refuse to show up in the table of contents for no reason, but deleting it and inserting a new one would magically fix it.
- It kept bolding one of the entries in the table of contents, even though we kept unbolding it. It'd just be bold again when we updated the table!
- It kept changing our heading font to Arial, even though the body text was in Times New Roman. Our supervisor hates mixing fonts in the same document, so we had to constantly watch out for that.
- It's table of contents/tables/figures updating algorithm is quite broken. If you ask select-all then hit F9 (which theoretically updates all the fields in the document), it'll update the table first, but the figure numbering afterwards. This means that if you insert a figure in the middle of the document (which changes the figure numbers for everything afterwards), it'll put all the old figure numbers in the table, and then renumber all the figures, leaving the table with the wrong numbers.
- When inserting references, it keeps defaulting back to "figure number + title" mode, which is stupid in a technical document where figures have long, descriptive titles. It refuses to remember that you wanted just "figure number" in the reference the previous time.
- Last but not least, here's my favorite Word bug: when you have a multiline entry (eg: in a bibliography), word refuses to allow you to indent the second or third line in the entry if you don't indent the first. However, if you hit "enter" at the beginning of the second line, it won't insert a page break, but does set some sort of internal flag so you can now indent that line and the ones after it. Everyone I've talked to knows this little trick, but nobody knows why it works.

Writing a 100 page document with seven people is hard enough. However, the difficultly of working on a large document in word goes up exponentially with document length. It's just too easy to mess something up, and its a real pain going over the paper repeatedly to make sure a later change hasn't fubared an earlier part of the document. At the end, the results aren't even worth it. Word's output is fugly. The justification algorithm blows chunks, it doesn't do asthetic layout of figures/tables, and it can't export to PDF for hassle-free printing. Oh, did I mention its justification algorithm blows chunks? Whoever wrote that algorithm is a failure at life and I hope he dies.

TeX doesn't give me this sort of trouble. it doesn't make me use a cumbersome "equation editor" when I've got 10 pages of complex equations to enter. It handles figure/table placement/numbering for me, updating everything properly behind the scenes. It allows me to concentrate on the content, without worring if inserting this figure will revert all my title fonts to Arial. Best of all, its output looks professional. Figures are placed nicely at the beginning or end of the page, or on their own figure page. They're always perfectly centered, because you don't have to place them by hand. Equations look amazing, and with amstex, can be very complex. The justification algorithm rocks, and outputs nice PDFs with sharp paragraph edges. Trust me, its immediately noticible when you get a paper or resume typeset in TeX, vs one printed in Word. The former has an air of dignity that the latter just lacks.

CVS
by Giorgos Gousios on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:06 UTC

A nice thing about Latex is that because it uses plain text files, you can have them managed by a code versioning system. This way a group of people can work on the same document concurently, without worring much about conflicts etc.

@how I switched to LaTeX
by Andy Roberts on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:08 UTC

For those reading Greg's comment, be aware that the OSNews comments engine has clearly decided to omit the backslashes that Latex uses to denote markup commands ;)

Latex
by anon et. al. on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:10 UTC

Latex is just brilliant - the output quality is just sooo sweet, no viable (cheap/free) alternative really exists.

Kile is a great Latex editor for KDE
by Txoni Elgrande on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:11 UTC

I use latex for all my scientific writing. My favorite editor is Kile: http://kile.sourceforge.net . An altenative for non-KDE users is emacs with AUCTex.

RE:Andy Roberts (IP: ---.lns5-c7.dsl.pol.co.uk)
by BR on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:18 UTC

What's a good source of templates for Lyx e.g.resume?

"Whoever wrote that algorithm is a failure at life and I hope he dies."

Hey Rayiner, I didn't expect such an incredibly arrogant comment from you.

Learning curve
by Rayiner Hashem on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:21 UTC

It should be noted that there is a learning curve with TeX. It took me a whole day on a weekend to learn it to the point where I knew enough to typeset all my documents with it. On the first few documents I wrote, I essentially broke even compared to Word, because I had to spend time looking things up. After that, I was much faster using LaTeX than using Word. I'd invested maybe 20 hours learning it, but I easily made that up within just a semester's worth of lab reports. After the initial time investment is recouped, the time savings is just gravy --- its time you can spend making the content better, or even finishing earlier and going to sleep at a reasonable time for a change!

Math typsetting
by zen on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:22 UTC

I'm starting to use it a bit for Math Typesetting. One reason I bought a Mac is that there is are several neat, freeware math symbol typesetters (and you don't need to know Tex), it will just export the code for you. I'm hesitant to typset an entire document as I'm not publishing anything and it looks too time consuming.

@BR
by Andy Roberts on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:23 UTC

I haven't really sought Lyx templates myself. The Lyx wiki has some pointers, including docs on how to create your own:

http://wiki.lyx.org/Layouts/Layouts

Otherwise, Google will help you ;)

Re: for those reading greg's comment :-)
by Greg on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:24 UTC

Let me try the doubleslashes. So here we go again. The same example of the formula:

[
\sin (\alpha + \beta) = \sin\alpha\cos\beta + \cos\alpha\sin\beta
]

@Vesselin Peev
by Rayiner Hashem on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:25 UTC

It was a joke. I don't actually wish death upon anyone. However, I've just spent a month (including 48-hours straight between Friday morning and Sunday morning) writing this beautiful paper, and this guy's algorithm uglified it pretty bad until we used Adobe Distiller to get it into PDF format. So while I don't want him to die, he's brought so much ugly typesetting into this world, if he gets fired and ends up working at McDonalds, I'd not shed a single tear.

Except you forgot the backslashes that open and close the math mode environment! I'll again for you,

\[
\sin (\alpha + \beta) = \sin\alpha\cos\beta + \cos\alpha\sin\beta
\]

re: Kile on KDE
by jj on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:31 UTC

Ofcourse Kile is great. But it doesn't only run under KDE, I have it running here just as easily under Gnome and I suppose it runs under other windows managers also.

@BR
by Rayiner Hashem on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:33 UTC

I don't know a single source of templates, but Googling usually turns up what I need. For resumes specifically, I use this one on my own resume: http://www.iro.umontreal.ca/~csuros/latex.html

You'll need the 'resume.cls' file that comes with it. If you're using a CLI latex tool, you can just put it in the same directory as the source file and it'll find it. Speaking of CLI latex tools, I personally prefer pdftex (command: pdfelatex), because its control over stuff like margin kerning, plus its ease of use.

RE: Printing
by Ponto on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:34 UTC

You should try to use kprinter as the printing command from inside abiword. Advanced features can be enabeled in the "filters" tab of a printer configuration.

AUCTex as LaTeX editor
by Greg on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:37 UTC

I used AUCTex simply because it's a cross-platform solution. AUXTex runs under EMACS and EMACS runs whenever it wants. So I can move between Win XP and UNIX environment with no apparent change of the editing environment.

INcidently, under Windows I've tried different LaTeX editors, but nothing can beat AUCTex in terms of parsing the source and highlighting the staff. And that pretty much is the major way to write a clean LaTeX code before you run it to convert to DVI.

Incidently - there is yet another related component available under GNU framework, the one which allows to preview the typesetting results So you don't have to compile complete document. Just highlight the part you're interested in, and it shows how it will look like. In a future issue of AUXTex, this component will be integrated into AUCTex (now it's a separate program). Should be very nice then --- but I like AUCTEx even the way it is now.

Finally, I don't really care about LyX because it sort of goes against the spirit of LaTeX, that is, *not* being the WYSIWYG. My personal opinion, of course.

Makefile
by kurt on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:41 UTC

LaTeX rocks. I use it for everything I write: Scripts for university, letters, presentation (with LaTeX Beamer Class) etc.

If you're looking for a nice Makefile and a simple template using KomaScript, Chicle [ http://beeblebrox.net/projects/chicle/ ] might be a solution.

beautiful document in TeX
by Lakedaemon on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:44 UTC

Here is an example of a complex (french) mathematical documents written in TeX, with graphs, pictures, dingbats, fonts, colors, and jokes...

http://www.lakedaemon.org/Get_PDF.php?file=Res_Mathematica.pdf

Written with TeX with the "pstricks package", the 200 pages of this french document take about 4s to compile (on my Athlon XP2200+) but you have to compile it twice (double pass compilation) to get the automatic labels right.

In Words..if you change something (in say a 50 pages documents), it sometimes takes a few minutes to get all the calculations done...and the result isn't very oftent satisfying.

Besides, in TeX, I can easily write around 3 or 4 pages full of mathematical formulas in an hour (try to beat that in word)...

TeX (the language on wich LaTeX was built) is actually faster and easier to understand and to customize (with macros) than LaTeX...

Handy if you've got a math-heavy curriculum
by ChesserCat on Mon 6th Jun 2005 19:55 UTC

I learned it while I was in college. I can type considerably faster than I can write, so I was looking for a way to type notes in my math-heavy classes. The beauty of it came when we had an exam, and the professor would allow us to bring in ONE page of notes for the exam. Normally, you'd see all kinds of handwritten pages, full of equations and formulae. In my case, I'd copy and paste all the pertinent stuff from my homework assignments, put it into a two- or three-column mode and kick the fontsize WAY down. The result? I had good eyesight, so I didn't need a magnifying glass to read 7- and 8-point type. I was able to bring a LOT of information in on that one little page. Having access to a decent laser printer in the computer lab helped, as well.

It got to the point that I could sit there, with vim running in text mode on my old HP OmniBook (only 48MB RAM, after the upgrade; any questions why it was in text mode?), plugging formulae into my notes almost as fast as the professors could write them on the board. Trig, algebra, calculus, summations, products, you name it, LaTeX handled it with ease. And, when it came time to turn in homework, you couldn't complain about the general illegibility of my handwriting.

Yes, there is a learning curve. Once you get past the initial parts of it, though, it rocks.

latex just rules
by l3v1 on Mon 6th Jun 2005 20:04 UTC

Yeah, there's hope, good articles _do_ pop up from time to time.

Latex is the way to go my friends, no matter what OS you use. My favourite latex-helping ide is kile (rockingly good), but technixcenter+miktex is also great for windows clickers. But that doesn't matter, even if doing it with vim, it's the best you can do.

Hell, I get sudden deadly headaches when I just think about e.g. the equation editor of Word these days.

My motivation for turning to latex was also paper writing for conferences and journals, most of which - thankfully - provide latex templates/styles to use (it wasn't always so). You don't have to worry about formatting, figures that don't keep their siz and place, reference lists that don't refresh as they should, crashes all over the place, etc. It Just Works, in thebest sence of the words.

@Spell checking on the fly is available in emacs
by Price Gouged on Mon 6th Jun 2005 20:10 UTC

"I've not really tried Emacs although I'm well aware that it can do almost everything."

Even comes with a built in shrink. What more could anyone ask?

LaTeX much better for scientific documents
by Flav on Mon 6th Jun 2005 20:11 UTC

I have to agree with the author. In college/university, esp. in the Math/Engineering departments LaTeX is a lifesaver.

I made the mistake of using Word for my 80+ page undergrad thesis. Big mistake. Every little change kills the whole table of contents. Also, it has an invisible figure/table counting problem that will make the number skip every time after the F9 update is used! I had to manually go into the reference codes and force renumbering (doing that to 35 figures is a major pain).

Not to mention that Equation editor outputs are of different size depending on the size of the formula. This is very frown upon on almost all journals and conferences.

Never again will I write any scientific docs in Word.

programmable
by CBrachyrhynchos on Mon 6th Jun 2005 21:01 UTC

Another nice thing about LaTeX is that because it is just text files, it is easy to write scripts that convert log files into pretty-printed pdf.

Blah
by Jackson Brown on Mon 6th Jun 2005 21:07 UTC

Pros use Quark XPress

Work term reports
by Leo S on Mon 6th Jun 2005 21:07 UTC

In case anyone here is in university and taking a coop program... Here's a latex document class for work term reports. I havent had a chance to actually write a full report in latex yet (because I usually leave them to the last night, and then I have no time to learn latex) but it looks really good.

http://www.law.yi.org/~sfllaw/programs/uw-ece-workreport/

WYSIWYG Latex Editor for OS X?
by psycosis on Mon 6th Jun 2005 21:18 UTC

Anybody know of a good one?

RE: Absolutely true!
by Gabriel on Mon 6th Jun 2005 21:25 UTC

> I can't begin to tell you how much I detest word. It's totally insufficient for real documents. I just got done working on a 100 page proposal in Word and it was a major pain in the ass.

man, a nice dinner and an expensive ring gives much less work for a proposal than a 100 page document ...and i think it work out better too.

I don´t like TeX!
by Patrick Schriner on Mon 6th Jun 2005 21:31 UTC

I prefer Docbook or Openoffice (strange choice). The latters´s formula editor uses TeX notation, which is brilliant for Copy & Pasting dozens of formulas. Openoffice lets you work in a very TeX-ish way, using centralized style definitions etc.

Moreover I don´t like TeX´s implicitness of a DOM: XML is much better to work with programaticly. Of course that means you need decent tool support (That shortens the typing of Tags - but e.g. Stylus Studio will do that).

Unfortunetly TeX works better than OS XSL-FO (afaik).

Mmmmh, try Textures on the Macs....

I think it can compile TeX while you are typing and display the result in real time.....so, it is as close to wysiwyg as you could make TeX (I might be wrong).

You still have to learn TeX (or LaTeX) though

Personnaly, I use MiKTeX distribution on windows with the TeXshell free editor (nice, simple, customizable, powerfull and improves my productivity)...

http://www.projectory.de/texshell/index.html

Remember : Keep It Simple Sweety

Just my $0.02. I can almost guarentee that anything done in a math dept. will be done with LaTex - only a madperson would fight with Word Equation Editor! I used LaTex to write my PhD thesis and what a godsend! References, Figures, equations, all easily referenced, put exactly where I wanted them..ahh bliss. Contrast this with those who choose Word and manually reference Figures (meaning when they added a new one, they had to go back and update all the numbers) and ever try to get a Figure in Word to sit exactly where you want it? The only sad thing is, most non-math centred journals do not support LaTex for final submission (PDF can be used during the initial review stage) - meaning I have to fight with Word every damn time I write a manuscript!

xml is the way to go
by Thom on Mon 6th Jun 2005 21:47 UTC

I personnaly don't like LaTex that much, it's good for writing simples papers or thesis but it's absolutely ugly to customize properly. You have to add a lot of packages which just appear to have their own syntax and incompatibilities.

Word can be quite good if you really know how to use it (styles, rules ...), of course, the equation editor is still ugly. I which I could just type in latex formula and it would convert it into an ole object (like equation magic lite but less buggy...).

I think LaTex is good if you stay on the already well defined paths but it's kinda ugly to customize without going through a lot of rules to learn.

I would like a nice language like tbook (xml dtd much simpler than docbook) and to be able to customize it with a simple css and export to pdf with apache's fop (and not going through latex hacks like tbook is currently doing). Like it's done for the web but with printers in mind.

others?
by Gabriel on Mon 6th Jun 2005 21:48 UTC

what about some other options? someone already mentioned Quark XPress. I remeber using it for lfyers and one page zines, but it was a LONG time ago...

Responses
by Rayiner Hashem on Mon 6th Jun 2005 21:49 UTC

@Jackson Brown: Pros in what field? In the prepress field they use Quark XPress (or InDesign or FrameMaker or whatever), but that's something of a diferent field. Quark XPress is a design program, not a tool for writing technical documents. As a result of its academic origins, TeX has a body of surrounding tools that nothing else can really touch. There is a reason Matlab and Mathematica export to TeX and not Quark XPress or FrameMaker format.

TeX concept for programing
by Gabriel on Mon 6th Jun 2005 21:52 UTC

anyone here uses the leo editor for literate programing?

@Thom
by Rayiner Hashem on Mon 6th Jun 2005 21:54 UTC

Word can be quite good if you really know how to use it (styles, rules ...)

I disagree. We used styles and rules, its just that those features simply don't scale well to large documents in Word.

Anyway, I don't really get the comment about customization. It sounds like you're looking for a DTP program like InDesign rather than a typesetter like TeX.

what about non-academic works?
by sean on Mon 6th Jun 2005 21:55 UTC

I know music & graphics were mentioned, but would I need to download a template for something simple like a novel or short story (creative writing, IOW) or is it just a matter of learning to use the tool? Word processors like Word or OO writer drive me batty cause you invariably get caught up formatting your work instead of freeflow writing it. I just didn't know there might be another tool to help in that regard.

A nice WYSIWYG
by vvelox on Mon 6th Jun 2005 21:56 UTC

Another nice one is this one right here... I've enjoyed using it to type up math notes before.

http://www.texmacs.org/

@sean
by Rayiner Hashem on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:03 UTC

TeX is fine for many types of writing, including novels or even screenplays. What it is not fine for is DTP-type publishing. Its integration between text and graphics is pretty minimal, so if you want fancy features like making a line of text follow a curved path, TeX is probably not the best tool to use. Although, there are efforts to make a next generation TeX that integrates TeX more fully with a graphics model like PDF.

@vvelox
by Rayiner Hashem on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:07 UTC

TexMacs is fricking incredible. Integration of TeX, Emacs, Maxima, and Octave. It's geek heaven.

@Rayiner Hashem
by Thom on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:07 UTC

Anyway, I don't really get the comment about customization. It sounds like you're looking for a DTP program like InDesign rather than a typesetter like TeX.

You're probably right but I just want to be able to customize my thesis the same I could do it with xml+css. I think it's much more flexible than LaTex. Maybe it's just something else than typesetting, but LaTex is also supposed to do some customization with all these packages but I feel it's a bit outdated for this.
True separation from contents and style is easier to achieve with xml based languages. Like tbook for content, css for style and fop for typesetting would seem to be a nice alternative.
But I agree that for now there are no valid alternative.

I also know that customization is really not important in a thesis and has to be used with caution but I am a perfectionist ;-)

Re: WYSIWYG editor on Mac
by Jack Perry on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:09 UTC

Try Lyx.Mac. I typed my PhD dissertation using it. Installing it is not bad at all: use Gerben Weirda's i-Installer to install LaTeX, then download Lyx, unpack, & go. It's awesome.

http://wiki.lyx.org/pmwiki.php/LyX/Mac
http://www.rna.nl/tex.html

@Thom
by Rayiner Hashem on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:15 UTC

XML + CSS is a completely different thing. IIRC, it has no notion of pagination, it doesn't do automatic placement of figures or tables, it doesn't do auto-numbering of anything, it doesn't handle bibliographies for you, etc. It just seems to me to be a completely different tool for a completely different purpose. It'll probably give you more control over the "look" of the paper, but then again, making the thing as a giant bitmap would give you a lot of control too, but it'd be easier to not do that...

listing package
by alwin on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:20 UTC

with the listing package wich can include java/c/sql/whatever files and apply syntax highlighting and line numbering to it. so when a make my assignments in java i can include the files and get it automaticly formatted. when i discovered this i knew i would never use another kind of typesetter for writing documents.

when doing projects with other students they always want to use word and we always end op fixing the formatting (i have lots of horror stories about this ;) ). my school should teach latex and give the students a choice between latex or word. people only use word because it's the only thing they know, not because it's the best tool around.

Simple course in TeX
by Lakedaemon on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:27 UTC

TeX is [u]easy[/u]. It takes 2 days to learn and 2 weeks to a become a proficient journeyman...

Of course, you rip the benefice of this for Life...

You gain time, when you use TeX instead of word to type formulas like :

"the integral from 0 to 1 the function (1 divided by 1 plus x squared) of the x variable is equal to pi."

[u] The previous text, in TeX code would look like[/u] :

TeX is $underline{easy}$. It takes $2$ days to learn and $2$ weeks to a become a proficient journeyman...
medskip

Of course, you rip the benefice of this {bf for Life}...
medskip

You gain time, when you use TeX instead of word to type formulas like :
$$
int_0^1{1over1+x^2}dx=pi.
$$
bye

Explanations

$maths$ = math mode between two $ symboles
$$maths$$ = the same but in beatifull formula mode
TeX = a core macro that writes TeX with eyecandy
underline = core macro to underline
medskip = macro to skip a bit vertically and indent
{bf expression} = the expression is written with Bold Face
int = integral symbol
^Someting = overscript something
_something = subscript something
{exp1over exp2} = writes the fraction exp1/exp2
pi = the greek letter pi

There...if you have read that, you know 50% of what you need to know to type in TeX

My one quibble with the article
by Jack Perry on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:30 UTC

I've written a lot of documents using LaTeX and I'm afraid the author has overlooked one terrible problem; indeed he even acts like it doesn't exist! In particular, he writes: You add one sentence, which then pushes an image on to the next page, leaving a massive gap at the bottom of that page where your image once was. This then daisy-chains down, knocking other tables and images out of place all the way to the end of your document! It's a real laugh. Fortunately, Latex is much more clever in this respect and positions your images and tables with a lot of common sense. So, if you want your image to appear at the bottom of a given page, it'll stay there!

Heh, heh. Not really.

LaTeX is infamous for doing exactly the same thing; in fact it's worse, because its algorithms insist on doing all the thinking for you: so, if you want an image (or a math formula) in a certain spot, good luck getting it there! The choice of vspace is often determined by what goes on two or three pages before (or after) the current page you're on, so changing two pages before can really get you confused. I struggled with this very problem in my dissertation: white space would automagically appear all over the place. It took a long time to get things acceptable (I'm still not happy).

For horizontal spacing issues, however, you have the reverse problem: LaTeX is that it would rather overrun a right margin than leave too much space between words. (The infamous "overfull hbox", whose black slug indicating an error certain styles remove incidentally, even in draft mode... grrrr) I'm not sure why Knuth thought an overrun was such a better idea than extra whitespace in an hbox, while extra white space was preferable to an overrun in a vbox, but the result in many published papers, and even some books, has been ugly. It certainly does not look professional, but the only way to fix it is to do some really obscure TeXing, or else completely rephrase your wording (the universal fallback I've seen in all LaTeX manuals). This, I think, is the worst problem: your choice of words is necessarily less important than LaTeX's obscure rules. It's the one frustration that unites both beginners and experts: when you're proofing a 260-page document, you have to remember that hyphenated words like "S-polynomial" (for example) won't break across lines, so they need manual hyphenation, and you often won't notice the overfull 2-pt hbox unless you're VERY CAREFUL (or you pay separate the wheat from the chaff in TeX's output).

Those complaints aside -- for scientific publishing, LaTeX far outclasses anything else. I've never used Word to write a math document; given what I've heard from people (and what I read here) I never will. It was immensely classy of Knuth to make his program freeware.

LaTeX vs. DocBook
by John Nilsson on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:31 UTC

I recently did some school work in booth DocBook and LaTeX. I first decided to try DocBook because it seems more modern. I used the default XSL and Apache-FOP.

The first work was a Analysis & Design documentation for a system we would create.

The VEX editor for Eclipse was a nice way of editing XML, but tables and other complex DocBook stuff was a complete nightmare. We didn't do any references so I never tried refdb (and I wasn't sure I'd find a good APA style either).

Later we needed to create a report on the work which would neede to have some references in it. As I allready had a LaTeX setup ready with the correct APA style configured I decided to go LaTeX for that.

In booth ocation I decided to use a text based system to be able to coordinate our work through subversion. A nice post-commit script triggerd a make of the pdf documents and published them on a webserver.

In the end I realized, that even though DocBook is promising it is not as mature as LaTeX. LaTeX simply does a better job of typesetting images and linebreaking and stuff. Also the abundance of availible packages for everything you could ever need availible for LaTeX makes it quicker to set up.

On the learning curve end of things, it was much easier to convince the other members of the team to try LaTeX markup than to learn XML.

To have the APA-style Bibtex package work in Swedish I hade to do some customitations of my own and I also hade to some trickery to be able to use a title less section that shows up in the index. LaTeX is a real bitch when you need to do out of the ordinary stuff, I can agree with that. But I hear that the ConTeXt distribution is better than LaTeX in that regard.

So untill FOP and DocBook matures some more and gets som good (I've only tried a few) OSS editors, I'd recommend to go LaTeX. With ConTeXt as a fallback.

oups
by Lakedaemon on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:32 UTC

damn it's easier to write with tex that to use BBHTML code :p

arhhhhhhhhh
And where have all my backslashes gone ?
(TeX commands starts with a backslash)

Sighs..... stripslashes().... php function...sighs.....:D

@Rayiner Hashem
by Thom on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:33 UTC

Yes you're right again but using something like fop could do that, the xml and css files would only describe the structure and layout like it's done with the .tex file right now. Typesetting would be done with fop by example. I totally agree that pure static xml+css files would be useless for typesetting .

I think this could work (I can't see why it couldn't) but anyway that's pure speculations and I may miss the whole point!
Nice to discuss that with you btw, it's been on my mind for some weeks when I should concentrate more on my work !

@Thom
by Rayiner Hashem on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:37 UTC

That's a good point, I hadn't considered throwing FOP into the mix. It might work, though I'm entirely unsure about the mechanics of it ;)

how I got into LaTeX
by who's that? on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:38 UTC

I basically was sitting in my Abstract Algebra class and had papers to write.. Equation editor SUCKED, messed up the work flow.

so, I started with LyX, but the output was bloated and slow. I then moved to straight LaTeX.

it was easy to do, and looking up packages and markup is easy on google.

Re: My one quibble with the article
by John Nilsson on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:41 UTC

LaTeX3 is much better with regards to your problems.

@Rayiner Hashem
by Thom on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:46 UTC

In fact, we might have more flexibility in the styling but it would probably be quite the same for typestting stuff (fop aims to be quite similar to tex for that) so it won't probably behave much different (except for the styling).
I don't know if FOP can handle css directly or if it does much of the styling itself taking only the document content and structure as an input. If so, there would only be the benefit of the tbook language.
Anyway it seems, tbook and fop are quite immature compared to LaTex right now.

Jack Perry
by Lakedaemon on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:48 UTC

For horizontal spacing issues, however, you have the reverse problem: LaTeX is that it would rather overrun a right margin than leave too much space between words
[b]

Too much space between words or spaces between words that aren't consistent with nearby lines are much much more ugly


The only way to fix it is to do some really obscure TeXing, or else completely rephrase your wording (the universal fallback I've seen in all LaTeX manuals)[b]

you can either use the insecable space "~" between words like in "prevent~cut~there" or you can change the the default glue and white space allowed on a line
(you can't do that in word)


you often won't notice the overfull 2-pt hbox unless you're VERY CAREFUL
[b]

No, TeX produces a .log file where it tells you the location of ALL you errors and all your horrible underfullbox and overfullbox...

hyphenated words like "S-polynomial" (for example) won't break across lines,
[b]

it breaks accross line perfectly if you write it correctly, that is $S$-polynomial.

Besides, the hyphenation algorithm of TeX is really great
(I think I read somewhere that Knuth was proud of it)
except for long words with accents
(arhh..we..wicked frenchies ;) )
And...in a 80 pages document...I believe that you have to manually hyphenate like 30 words with accents.....
LoL....that doesn't seem so awfull to me..

sorry for the bold face
by Lakedaemon on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:50 UTC

damn....I really can't use bbcode
sorry

lyx is one of my all-time favourite and most imortant software
by tech_user on Mon 6th Jun 2005 22:51 UTC

lyx is for me one of my favourite and most imprtant software. since the late 1990s i have used to produce many documents which are both professional in appearance and are extremely manageable.

its not just the separation of style and content, its also the very good management of things like bibliographic refereces, caption numbering, and the ability to export to many formats from the xml lyx sources - pdf, word, ps, html (yes, you cn produce excellent websites from your tech docs).

its not just stable and logical - is scalable - give it one diagram or give it 150, it doesn't choke.

i wouldn't be where i am without it - i owe it a lot. its a pinnacle of human progress.

LaTeX is a (popular) bitch
by Lakedaemon on Mon 6th Jun 2005 23:00 UTC

*LaTeX is a real bitch when you need to do
*out of the ordinary stuff,

I agree completly with that assertion...

LaTeX is a set of macro and templates coded in TeX to make the work easier for your average LatEX user (who doesn't want to get deep into things). That's why LaTeX is so popular. People are satisfied with the standard defaults...


But, programming macros in TeX is easier that reprogramming macros in LaTeX.

this is why, I believe that the people that want a real tight control on what they type (well, me anyway)use TeX instead of LaTeX.

Why spend time learning TeX AND the LaTeX api if you want to change the LaTeX api anyway ?


re: Re: My one quibble with the article
by who's that? on Mon 6th Jun 2005 23:00 UTC

LaTeX3 s not stable yet.

Has anyone mentionned Prosper yet ?
by JustPassingBY on Mon 6th Jun 2005 23:06 UTC

I'm in a hurry and on plain old copper line internet connection.
But LaTex could also be used to producer presentation, just like MS PowerPoint with the use of the package "Prosper".
The last time I used it (that must be hmm 2 years ago), there already was "themes" that is templates for you presentation.

Of course, one can not expect to find all the supported "objects" that PowerPoint supports (like embedded video), but the point is that if you decide to write say, a Master thesis with Latex, you could also use Prosper to write your presentation !

ConTeXt
by Manik on Mon 6th Jun 2005 23:12 UTC

I haven't read all the posts, so I don't know if someone mentionned it, but for those who wants the quality of TeX documents but not for scientific or maths documents (or novels or whatever you can do with LaTeX) there is ConTeXt:

http://www.pragma-ade.com/

And, trying to go farther than TeX, Omega :

http://omega.enstb.org/

LaTeX can replace powerpoint too
by Will on Mon 6th Jun 2005 23:13 UTC

Latex isn't for people who are too lazy or dislike change

Well, I'm lazy and dislike change but I love LaTeX. Mind you, I've been using it for 16 years so maybe I'm not part of the target audience.

Those of us who would rather die than be caught using an "office suite" tend to use LaTeX for everything. For example, designing posters and presentations. I have some examples at

http://www.astrosmo.unam.mx/~w.henney/latex-poster/

http://www.astrosmo.unam.mx/~w.henney/latex-talk/

Re: my one quibble with the article
by Jack Perry on Mon 6th Jun 2005 23:23 UTC

Too much space between words or spaces between words that aren't consistent with nearby lines are much much more ugly

De gustibus non disputandum. In any case I was talking about looking professional, not looking ugly. I've seen lots of professional typesetting that looked ugly because of white space between words; I've never (outside of math journals) seen professional typesetting that had hbox overruns.

you can either use the insecable space "~" between words like in "prevent~cut~there" or you can change the the default glue and white space allowed on a line
(you can't do that in word)


I don't believe you understood what I was saying; I was complaining that TeX was keeping words on a line, not that it was breaking apart words in a sentence. Or maybe I don't understand what you're saying, but "~" is not the solution to any problem I'm thinking about.

(me:) hyphenated words like "S-polynomial" (for example) won't break across lines,

it breaks accross line perfectly if you write it correctly, that is $S$-polynomial.


No, it doesn't. That's exactly what I was using. My dissertation was about skipping S-polynomials reductions, and I faithfully type, $S$-polynomial throughout all 260 pages of the text, except when I have to manually insert hyphenation $S$-poly\-nomial sometimes. A couple of those I almost missed, because it overshot the line only slightly. In retrospect, I should have defined a macro for it, but I don't think that's something that ought to come as a surprise.

Besides, the hyphenation algorithm of TeX is really great
(I think I read somewhere that Knuth was proud of it)


He should be proud of it; it's great. I'm not complaining so much about that; rather, that one can't adequately tell LaTeX to hyphenate $S$-polynomial automatically (or at least it didn't work for me), and similarly that one has to hunt & correct its hbox overruns manually.

About log files: you're right, but it still sucks. If you're using a front-end like Lyx (maybe TeXmacs too, dunno) you don't usually think about those log files; you look for the slugs or for the overfull hbox. Style files should not be removing slugs from draft mode.

Re: Prosper
by Jack Perry on Mon 6th Jun 2005 23:25 UTC

Prosper rules. Thanks for mentioning it. There is even a Lyx plugin for it, but it doesn't work so well IMHO.

Re: my one quibble with the article
by Jack Perry on Mon 6th Jun 2005 23:28 UTC

I checked $S$-polynomial to be sure, and like I said it doesn't automatically hyphenate: I get an ugly, overfull hbox. I knew 260 pages of that words had made me insane, but I didn't think it made me forgetful. :-)

RE: Has anyone mentionned Prosper yet ?
by Will on Mon 6th Jun 2005 23:42 UTC

You beat me to it ;)

Of course, one can not expect to find all the supported "objects" that PowerPoint supports (like embedded video)

Actually, although you can't do true embedded video, you can make a link that starts an external video app (or any other app for that matter). Not with prosper (which uses the old tex->dvi->ps->pdf route) but with any of the plethora of latex presentation packages that are based on pdflatex (I would recommend beamer).

As to the downsides of LaTeX:

1. It is insanely difficult to get text paragraphs to flow around arbitrarily shaped inserts.

2. As some have already pointed out, LaTeX has its own ideas about what constitutes good typesetting, which may not be the same as your own. With enough experience, it is always possible to get it to do what you want, but many intermediate users get frustrated with this. An excellent resource for solving such problems is

http://www.tex.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html?introduction=yes

3. Programming in LaTeX/TeX is almost completely unlike programming in other languages. Another source of frustration for some.

4. For ultra-high-end artistic typesetting (think of Bringhurst's 'Elements of Typographic Style'), LaTeX is probably not the best tool, although with some of the experimental micro-typography additions to pdftex it is 99% of the way there.

Apart from these, I'd say it was pretty perfect ;)

latex2png
by latex guru on Mon 6th Jun 2005 23:54 UTC

A way to embed LaTex equations onto webpages:

http://www.sfu.ca/~gswamina/EmacsWikiBlog.html#sec4

@Will
by Rayiner Hashem on Tue 7th Jun 2005 00:04 UTC

For ultra-high-end artistic typesetting (think of Bringhurst's 'Elements of Typographic Style'

That's a beautiful book, isn't it?

@Rayiner
by Will on Tue 7th Jun 2005 00:08 UTC

> > For ultra-high-end artistic typesetting (think of Bringhurst's 'Elements of Typographic Style'

> That's a beautiful book, isn't it?

Yep, sure is!

high school and latex
by Piratero on Tue 7th Jun 2005 00:13 UTC

i am currently a high school student *loving* latex! since i'm a freebsd/slackware fan i tend to use latex for all my homework needs. i can't tell you how great latex is, it produces papers *far* more professional than the others who constantly use microsoft word 2000. when i get to college, i plan to write all my notes in latex since i have horrible hand writing (worse than chicken writing ;) )

Re: WYSIWYG Latex Editor for OS X?
by Morty on Tue 7th Jun 2005 00:17 UTC

Why not go for the crossplatform one? LyX runs native on MacOS/Win/*NIX. It's not exactly WYSIWYG, but WYSIWYM does the job splendidly:-)

@Jack Perry
by Will on Tue 7th Jun 2005 00:21 UTC

Hi Jack,

About the hyphenation - you are half right and half wrong ;)

You are right that LaTeX by default will not hyphenate already hyphenated words. However, as always, there is a package to correct this behavior: hyphenat.sty

I have made a demo just for you!

http://www.astrosmo.unam.mx/~w.henney/hyphentest/

hyphenat.sty should be part of any decent TeX installalation. If you have teTeX, then you can just type "texdoc hyphenat" to read the docs. Also, see the FAQ:

http://www.tex.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html?label=nohyph

As for the overfull hboxes, if you use AUCTeX in emacs, you can turn on debugging of these with "C-c C-w", then they will show up as compilation errors and emacs will jump to the corresponding source line as you step through them.

Shameless Plug
by Karl Abbott on Tue 7th Jun 2005 00:25 UTC

For an abstraction on top of LaTeX that makes LaTeX documents a little bit easier to produce and also incorporates a digital notebook concept, check out my software Wyneken at:

http://wyneken.sf.net

That's my shameless plug -- but I love LaTeX and developed this software to make day to day LaTeX use less painful.

png images?
by Adrian on Tue 7th Jun 2005 00:26 UTC

I was using lyx recently to do a report, and wanted to insert a photo (a png file) into the document. As far as I can tell, image support in lyx (and probably latex & postsript) is for vector based formats only. I ended up having to switch to openoffice.org.

re:png
by Karl Abbott on Tue 7th Jun 2005 00:35 UTC

you can do png images if you use a package like graphics or graphicsx and process the .tex file with pdflatex.

Fonts
by . on Tue 7th Jun 2005 00:38 UTC

I like LaTeX a lot. However, my main issue with it has always been fonts. I like to use fonts like Arial or Verdana, but installing and configuring fonts with (La)TeX is a bitch. Pointers are welcome.

miscellaneous addenda
by Andrew McLaren on Tue 7th Jun 2005 00:40 UTC

I'm not unsympathetic to the general theme of Andy's article. Here's a few, er, marginalia ...

- Word sucks for scientic publishing, this is known. But Word can be made somewhat less painful by using MathType, from Design Science (http://www.dessci.com). This lets you use Word (which can be useful for some purposes) and still have good maths formula editing, plus some Tex/Latex export ability.

- if you don't have a doctrinaire aversion to payware, Scientific Word by MacKichen Software (http://www.mackichan.com) is a great way to create LaTeX documents *and* have a full-featured WYSIWYG environment. Kinda like using Microsoft Word, except (a) it works well for science and maths, and (b) the resulting document file is pure LateX, not some weird MSFT binary format. MacKichan have some other good writing tools as well.

- Microsoft have recently announced that Word, Excel and PowerPoint in Office 12 will save files in a pure XML format (ie not some weird bastard cross-breed "WordML", but real XML). If this actually transpires, there will be excellent possibilities - eg you can modify all your documents with a Perl script, or some custom XSL, Xpath, Xquery, etc; and use the enormous range of other XML tools and tricks to munge your stuff. Okay that's yet to be delivered, but it will finally break the closed nature of Word docs.

LaTeX is obviously a standard for scientific and maths publishing; but on the whole it's a rather, ahem, 1980s technology. Technology is moving forward, except for retro-fetishists (& okay, I still use vi :-).

Free Alternatives!
by DrJ on Tue 7th Jun 2005 00:46 UTC

I may be antidiluvian, but I still use troff (or groff in its OSS form). It sets very, very nice type, and its preprocessors are extremely powerful. I use them all, pretty much -- tbl, eqn, pic, refer, grap and chem. You can include images in .eps format.

It is much like TeX in that it uses an ascii input file, separates text input from formatting, and is a complete typesetting language. The macro packages make it pretty easy to use, and it is already installed on most every BSD, Linux and Unix system. It integrates nicely into Unix through the man pages. And yes, there is still active development going on.

One is also part of Unix history, as troff was the vehicle used to justify development of Unix within Bell Labs in the first place.

DrJ

@Andrew McLaren
by Rayiner Hashem on Tue 7th Jun 2005 00:48 UTC

LaTeX is obviously a standard for scientific and maths publishing; but on the whole it's a rather, ahem, 1980s technology. Technology is moving forward, except for retro-fetishists (& okay, I still use vi :-).

While it is 1980's technology, the computer industry hasn't really come up with anything in the last 20 years better than what we had back then. Technology hasn't moved forward, rather, it has in many cases moved painfully backwards.

Re: png
by Will on Tue 7th Jun 2005 00:59 UTC

you can do png images if you use a package like graphics or graphicsx and process the .tex file with pdflatex.

Yes, and if you would rather stick with normal LaTeX (I have no idea if lyx supports pdflatex) then all you have to do is convert your PNG to EPS first (I tend to use a makefile for this but there is nothing to stop you doing it by hand). It is best to omit the file extension when including the graphic, then you can use the same source with either LaTeX or pdfLaTeX. LaTeX will then look for a .eps or .ps file of the image, while pdfLaTeX will look for a .pdf, .png, or .jpg file. The order of search can be customized of course, and it is possible to define custom handlers that will, for example, automatically convert PNG to EPS before inclusion (although this may give you problems with bounding boxes).

Be warned, however, that there are a million-and-one bad ways to convert raster images to postscript and only a handful of good ways (by which I mean no degradation of quality or excessive file-size inflation). In my opinion, the best solution is imgtops:

http://imgtops.sourceforge.net/

Too bad it doesn't come with a spellchecker!
by Alex on Tue 7th Jun 2005 01:20 UTC

"t's difficult to disagree that the output from Latex is far superior to what Word can produce. This is emphasised greatest when it comes to documents with high mathematical content, which is a major strength for Latex. It also has much better kerning, hyphenation and justification algorithms that simply make the output far more professional than what any word processor. Its algorithms for laying out text are more sophisticated and extremely fine-grained. "

:-p

texmacs
by blk on Tue 7th Jun 2005 01:25 UTC

http://texmacs.org/ is a great GUI, too

Hyphenation & GUI
by Jack Perry on Tue 7th Jun 2005 01:32 UTC

@will

You are right that LaTeX by default will not hyphenate already hyphenated words. However, as always, there is a package to correct this behavior: hyphenat.sty

Holy crap, that's pretty cool, thanks. I wish I'd known about it three months ago. :-)

For anyone who's still checking: Wolfram (the developers of Mathematica) have got their own publishing package for scientific writing now, which I think interfaces with TeX. It's called Publicon, and you can try it for free. Unfortunately, they didn't pay me to mention it :-( and I forgot to try it during the trial period after I downloaded it. So could someone try it & let me know how it is? :-)

http://www.wolfram.com/products/publicon/index.html

RE: Livecd?
by hamelin on Tue 7th Jun 2005 01:36 UTC

The Kanotix GNU/Linux distro is a Knoppix-based live CD which bears a LaTeX install. I haven't used it myself, but from my research, it seems to be one of the precious few live GNU/Linux distros to have LaTeX as a runnable-on-CD package.

Nice to see a article on this.
by Roscoe on Tue 7th Jun 2005 01:36 UTC

Though secretly I'd rather everyone just kept using word so my reports would look better...

I personally use vim, aspell, svn and latex (or pdflatex if .png's are involved).

It's great ;) . Well worth the spent learning.

Kile indeed kicks ass
by Marc Driftmeyer on Tue 7th Jun 2005 01:47 UTC

LaTeX Editor of choice, followed by LyX and then TeXShop.

Re: shameless plug
by Will on Tue 7th Jun 2005 02:42 UTC

For an abstraction on top of LaTeX that makes LaTeX documents a little bit easier to produce and also incorporates a digital notebook concept, check out my software Wyneken at:

http://wyneken.sf.net


Looks nice. In a similar vein, people may be interested in emacs muse:

http://www.mwolson.org/projects/MuseMode.html

This is the next-generation version of the absolutely wonderful emacs-wiki mode. It can take your jumbled mess of hyperlinked notes and export them to HTML or PDF via LaTeX.

By the way, I can't get any of the export functions in Wyneken to work. It gives me

Traceback (most recent call last):
File "/usr/bin/wyneken", line 1030, in on_build_to_pdf1_activate
parse_config()
File "/usr/lib/wyneken/pym/config.py", line 24, in parse_config
f=open(str(config_path[0])+"wyneken.conf")
IOError: [Errno 2] No such file or directory: '/etc/wyneken/wyneken.conf'

The /etc/wyneken directory does not exist and is not mentioned in the installation script. This is the beta version I tried, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

re:re: shameless plug
by Karl Abbott on Tue 7th Jun 2005 03:03 UTC

You need to read the install instructions on the page. To correctly set up wyneken, as root, do the following:

wyn --auto-config

This will generate the /etc/wyneken directory and the config file.

Karl

re:re:myself
by Karl Abbott on Tue 7th Jun 2005 03:05 UTC

Sorry if that came off too strongly -- I really goofed up by not putting the full instructions in the INSTALL file.

stuck in english
by angustia on Tue 7th Jun 2005 03:16 UTC

latex has the same problem that CLI has: its commands never get translated. When GUI programs are translated, they still work.

I don't know how latex is used in asia.

@Karl
by Will on Tue 7th Jun 2005 03:37 UTC

Sorry if that came off too strongly -- I really goofed up by not putting the full instructions in the INSTALL file.

No offence taken ;) OK, done that. Now it doesn't complain when I export to DVI - it just hangs (frozen window and ps aux gives status of all the wyneken processes as "stopped" - very bizarre). I should really be trying the non-beta version, right?

@Will
by Karl Abbott on Tue 7th Jun 2005 03:47 UTC

well, the beta version works perfectly fine here and has several bug fixes over the stable version. As for the processes being stopped, I'm slightly confused. Make sure that in /etc/wyneken/wyneken.conf, that this is set:

WYNEKEN=/usr/bin/wyn

and make sure in the wyneken preferences that you have a dvi viewer set correctly. Else, I'm slightly confused as it just uses python's os.spawnl() method to call the processes. Try wyn filename.wyn --dvi on the command line to see if the computer hangs. If it hangs there, then I'd like a copy of your wyneken file so that I could analyze it. You may feel free to contact me at karl1 at 99b dot org so that we don't crowd up the osnews forums with our further discussion.

Thanks for the feedback though!

OK, I'll give it a try, but...
by Lance Orner on Tue 7th Jun 2005 04:03 UTC

I've been looking for a more text-based way to write documents instead of using Word. I've been playing with LaTeX, and I'm impressed.

However, Microsoft is the standard at work. If I was to make a TeX document at work, but somebody was to demand a Word version of my document, is there a LaTex->Word conversion program?

--Lance

re: stuck in english
by Will on Tue 7th Jun 2005 04:04 UTC

@angustia

Well, ConTeXt has localized commands in at least English, German, and Dutch. I don't know of any similar effort for LaTeX itself, although it does have localized output via the babel package, which as well as translating the names of document components (e.g., in Spanish: "Section" -> "Sección"), also tries to honor the local typographic conventions (e.g., comma instead of decimal point) and hyphenation rules. What is more, LaTeX has good support for different input encodings, so you can easily use, for example, utf-8 to directly input text in non-Western languages (see also the Omega, Lambda, and Aleph projects). In principle, I don't see why you couldn't translate the LaTeX command names too.

The Lyx front-end also has an internationalization effort:

http://www.lyx.org/about/i18n.php3

Your criticism would also apply to any text-oriented system: XML, HTML, any programming language you care to mention - with the possible exception of binary machine code ;)

I use vim-latex (only me?)
by Alp on Tue 7th Jun 2005 04:17 UTC

I do my LaTeX editing with vim and vim-latex package:
http://vim-latex.sourceforge.net/

I prefer vim for all sorts of editing (c code, LaTex, ...) . I'd be happy to know of any other nice vim packages for LaTeX editing.

@Jack
by Lakedaemon on Tue 7th Jun 2005 06:20 UTC

another (working ?) simple TeX-solution to your problem:

define a macro called /SPolynomial (or /whatever ;) ) like

/def/SPolynomial{/noindent/hbox{$S$-poly}/-/hbox{nomial}}

With backslashes instead of slashes
(backslashes get removed in Eugenia's shout box)

and query-replace all your $S$-polynomial with either Spolynomial{} ot 'Spolynomial '.


the {} is there because 1 space is ignored after a TeX command.
the /noindent is here to make TeX go into horizontal mode...
if you didn't do that, at the begining of a paragraph, you would get

$S$-poly
nomial

instead of

$S$-polynomial

The point with LaTeX is to have some kind of manual to start off
by JustPassingBY on Tue 7th Jun 2005 06:46 UTC

I you really don't know where to begin or search the internet for hours...
Beside the "official" "Lamport" LaTeX manual, there's also a free "Joli manuel pour LaTeX 2" from Benjamin Bayart, a then student in a french engineering school (ESIEE).
Its huge, its well user-friendly written, far more well structured than the Lamport: the problems with the Lamport is answering questions like "But how do I ... ?".

You can search for it on google : http://www.google.fr/search?hl=fr&rls=GGLD%2CGGLD%3A2004-51...

Of course, the major drawback is that it's written in french, and I don't know if it has been translated somehow.
Maybe LaTeX users could have a look at the TOC and give references of some english written equivalent...

Don't fight it...
by Lionel B on Tue 7th Jun 2005 09:07 UTC

Re. graphics placement (and other layout issues), my experience has always been that LaTeX is a lamb as long as you let it do its own thing. Trying to enforce your own ideas as to what goes where is to invite a world of pain.

Re: Don't fight it...
by Andy Roberts on Tue 7th Jun 2005 09:26 UTC

I agree. Word processor users get frustrated initially with Latex because they are so used to inserting figures in the middle of a page immediately after they reference it. The thing is, when you look at professionally typeset books, figures and tables tend to appear at the top or bottom of a page, thereby not breaking the flow of text. It is alright also to have a figure on the next page.

But where ever Latex puts it, at least it's not preceeded by a large blank which is what typically happens when a figure is shoved on to a subsequent page in WP software. Latex 'floats' figures and tables meaning that text flows around them.

@angustia
I don't know how latex is used in asia.

Hmmm, have a look at

http://oku.edu.mie-u.ac.jp/~okumura/texfaq/

@JustPassingBY

Maybe LaTeX users could have a look at the TOC and give references of some english written equivalent...

See

http://www.tex.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html?label=books

and

http://www.tex.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html?label=tutorials

for comprehensive lists.

@Lionel B

Re. graphics placement (and other layout issues), my experience has always been that LaTeX is a lamb as long as you let it do its own thing. Trying to enforce your own ideas as to what goes where is to invite a world of pain.

This certainly can be true if you try to use the wrong tool for the job. LaTeX's float mechanism is designed for the automatic placement of figures, tables, etc. You can easily customize the policy that it uses but fine-grained control of individual figure placement is not its forte.

However, you can use the optional float.sty package, which has an option for "right here, right now, or else!" figure placement. Also, there are many packages which allow pixel-perfect absolute positioning of objects on the page.

http://www.tex.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html?label=floats

http://www.tex.ac.uk/cgi-bin/texfaq2html?label=abspos


You just have to read the FAQ. Yes, I know I'm starting to sound like a stuck record ;)

@Will
by Lionel B on Tue 7th Jun 2005 14:50 UTC

@Lionel B
Re. graphics placement (and other layout issues), my experience has always been that LaTeX is a lamb as long as you let it do its own thing. Trying to enforce your own ideas as to what goes where is to invite a world of pain.

This certainly can be true if you try to use the wrong tool for the job. LaTeX's float mechanism is designed for the automatic placement of figures, tables, etc. You can easily customize the policy that it uses but fine-grained control of individual figure placement is not its forte.

Don't get me wrong... I think that LaTeX does a fantastic job of layout in general and figure placement in particular. I meant to imply that it's best left to LaTeX to do what it's so good at.

However, you can use the optional float.sty package, which has an option for "right here, right now, or else!" figure placement.

I used float.sty once only... and came to the conclusion (after clearing up the mess) that LaTeX knew what I wanted better than I did ;-)

S-Polynomial
by cogito ergosum on Tue 7th Jun 2005 16:52 UTC

Look at the difficulty that S-Polynomial caused. How can anybody possibly claim the LaTeX allows one to concentrate on the meaning and not the layout? So LaTeX fails by its own criteria.
Secondly: I agree with Jack Perry's quibble over diagram placement. Again, one cannot just concentrate on the substance of one's writing. I used to get a lot of trouble with nested lists.
Thirdly: graduates may love or hate LaTeX (you've guessed, I'm a LaTeX-hater and an Emacs-hater); but clerical and secretarial staff always prefer WYSIWYG.
Fourthly: where I used to work, we used company macros to deliver a company look and feel for all our documents. These macros evolved in time, with the result that old documents could not be reprocessed. So an ASCII text format does not guarantee lifetime reproducibility.

Horizontal spacing issues.
by CBrachyrhynchos on Tue 7th Jun 2005 17:15 UTC

For horizontal spacing issues, however, you have the reverse problem: LaTeX is that it would rather overrun a right margin than leave too much space between words. (The infamous "overfull hbox", whose black slug indicating an error certain styles remove incidentally, even in draft mode... grrrr) I'm not sure why Knuth thought an overrun was such a better idea than extra whitespace in an hbox, while extra white space was preferable to an overrun in a vbox, but the result in many published papers, and even some books, has been ugly.

Well Knuth's reasoning behind this actually has been explained. LaTeX has no idea what the optimal solution for a given line-break problem might be. Rather than make a blind choice between bad white-space or hyphenation, LaTeX is designed to warn the editor and let him or her decide how to deal with the problem. Usually what I do is just bump up tolerance for small problems. If you want for LaTeX to NEVER overrun, there is sloppy.

For the specific case of $S$-poly-nomial, this seems like the perfect case for a command: newcommand{spoly}{$S$-poly-nomial}. spoly in your LaTeX source file will be expanded to the full expression with the manual hyphenation rule. Of course since LaTeX are just text files, you can also just do a mass search and replace as well and get them all in one shot. For other cases, there is also the hyphenation list for dealing with frequently used words that are not hyphenated properly: hyphenation{man-u-script}.

Try out ConTeXt!
by Mojca on Tue 7th Jun 2005 17:25 UTC

Take a look at ConTeXt too. It's much more powerful than LaTeX, at least it offers much more flexibility in the sense of design and XML processing. I was completely satisfied with LaTeX, but ConTeXt simply offers more - since I discovered it I comletely forgot Word and PowerPoint.
(It is TeX-based.)

An example document:
http://www.pragma-ade.com/general/manuals/metafun-s.pdf

Two pages to start with:
http://contextgarden.net (ConTeXt WIKI)
http://www.pragma-ade.com/overview.htm (collection of documents)

@cogito ergosum
by Rayiner Hashem on Tue 7th Jun 2005 17:49 UTC

Look at the difficulty that S-Polynomial caused. How can anybody possibly claim the LaTeX allows one to concentrate on the meaning and not the layout?

Look at the enormous list of problems with Word that have been compiled on this list, between my post and Andy's post and everyone elses'. If a small hyphenation issue (one to which a fix was posted, btw), is the only problem with Latex, well, that's a small price to pay indeed.

SI agree with Jack Perry's quibble over diagram placement. Again, one cannot just concentrate on the substance of one's writing. I used to get a lot of trouble with nested lists.

I hit some problems with diagram placement too initially. But then I figured out that diagrams really did look nicer at the beginnings and ends of pages, and didn't worry about it so much. Again, I don't think anybody would claim that LaTeX is perfect. But its a heck of a lot better than the alternatives.

but clerical and secretarial staff always prefer WYSIWYG.

There are a number of problems with this statement:

1) It's not true. Back when Word was still in its infancy, and WordPerfect dominated the market, clerical and secretarial staff used WP. You know why? Formatting codes! It was a very hard thing for Microsoft to ween them off these WordPerfect features, and if you ever have to tech support for somebody who started using word processors in that generation, you'll still here questions about how to enable the formatting codes in Word.

2) The fact is that people prefer what they're used to. If secretaries and clerical staff prefer Word, its because what they've been forced to use all these years. That does not imply that its the better solution, or the most efficient solution. I know engineers who waste tons of time banging their head against complex Excel sheets when they'd be better off just using Matlab. Yes, its harder. Yes, it takes a time investment. But you owe it to your employer to be as efficient as possible, and taking hours doing something that could be done in half the time using a better tool is not efficient.

3) The simple fact is that secretaries generally don't work on very complex documents. Rarely do you see them typing up hundred page documents with figures, tables, charts, and extensive bibliographical references. I find it very simple and fast to use TeX for everything these days (even short three-page jobs), but Word is certainly adequate for this sort of work.

@cogito ergosum
by CBrachyrhynchos on Tue 7th Jun 2005 17:52 UTC

Look at the difficulty that S-Polynomial caused. How can anybody possibly claim the LaTeX allows one to concentrate on the meaning and not the layout? So LaTeX fails by its own criteria.

Well, from what I can tell it caused few difficulties that would not have been quickly solved (with a quick dip into the documentation). I'm much more fond of systems that allow me to fix difficulties once for many examples, than systems that force me to fix problems each time they happen to occur in my page layout.

I would have to say that for the genre it was designed for, yes, LaTeX does allow one to concentrate on meaning as opposed to layout to a greater degree than most of the alternatives. All I have to do is say that my document is an APA submission, a fiction draft, or a letter, and the rest of the styles happen naturally. With Word or with Open Office.org, I'm almost always forced to waste a lot of time redefining styles, and then I have no idea as to whether those styles will be applied consistently, or whether I might have to deal with "side effects" because that table cell was auto-formatted into a different style.

Meanwhile, there are other features that more than make up for the little quirks. Indexing, intelligent cross-references, and BibTeX are three must-have features.

Now, granted I wouldn't be using LaTeX for the types of output that would require something like Quark or Scribus, but I'm not paid to twiddle flowing text around artwork in variable collumn layouts. I'm paid to deliver thousands of words of double-spaced copy typeset just so with accurate citations, and images on separate numbered pages at the back of the manuscript.

Re: S-Polynomial
by Andy Roberts on Tue 7th Jun 2005 18:35 UTC

"Look at the difficulty that S-Polynomial caused. How can anybody possibly claim the LaTeX allows one to concentrate on the meaning and not the layout? So LaTeX fails by its own criteria."

Hyphenation of hyphenated words is not straight-forward. It could be argued that from a typesetting perspective, S-polynomial shouldn't be allowed to be split over a line. It doesn't look good.

There are other conventions too, like how cross-references are displayed, e.g., "see Section 1.2". The "Section" and "1.2" should always remain together and not span multiple lines. In Latex, this can be achieved with 'hard spaces'.

Don't forget, some of the complaints with Latex are due to an ignorance of tried and tested typesetting rules.

Separate content ! (sligthly OT)
by Matthew Henson on Tue 7th Jun 2005 22:03 UTC

Using WSYWIG tools it is easy to give the format too much power. - my categories are for the general text producer, not the poster-designer (for example). OverPower1 is to spend more time tweaking the format than the words. OverPower2 is to edit the text in order to make the line breaks look neat.

If you see only text when typing you will have little exposure to either fault. TeX and progeny are great for some. For me, text in TextWrangler (a terrific, beer-free Mac text editor) and output in InDesign. (InDesign is eye-wateringly expensive if it doesn't make you money. My excuse for this luxury software is that version 1 was cheap…)

Implementation details are (for me) secondary to the primacy of the words, however they are produced. Hey I'll even use Word if need be: am currently being paid to tame a couple of 300-page Word messes. Thank goodness for OpenOffice to revive broken documents. And VBA to repeat the corrections.

Err, sorry. Wrong thread ;)

Meanwhile....

@cogito

How can anybody possibly claim the LaTeX allows one to concentrate on the meaning and not the layout?

You know, I kind of half agree with you there. With LaTeX the barriers between "content" and "layout" are a lot more porous than with, say, XML. Although this can sometimes be a source of problems, I think that LaTeX has the balance about right. After all, sometimes the layout is the content, or part of it.

you've guessed, I'm a LaTeX-hater and an Emacs-hater

Yeah, I guessed as much ;) Seriously, I have come across a handful of colleagues with similar attitudes - despite being obviously highly intelligent, they refuse to "get" LaTeX and demand that all document preparation be happy-clappy, pointy-clicky. They do seem to be a very tiny minority, though, at least in my line of work. Is this down to some difference in brain structure, some traumatic childhood experience with backslashes, or what?

By the way, how do you feel about GUI front-ends like lyx? Personally, I find these inferior to emacs+AUCTeX+RefTeX as a LaTeX "IDE", but a good fraction of my colleagues and students prefer them. Different strokes, I guess.

but clerical and secretarial staff always prefer WYSIWYG

I'd have to agree with Rayiner that secretarial staff (like the rest of us) are creatures of habit. Feed them LaTeX from the cradle and they'll never look back!

@will
by CBrachyrhynchos on Wed 8th Jun 2005 18:18 UTC

I'd have to agree with Rayiner that secretarial staff (like the rest of us) are creatures of habit. Feed them LaTeX from the cradle and they'll never look back!

Well, I don't know about that. I use OpenOffice.org for short documents such as one-off letters. There is definitely a level of complexity at which I find it more worthwhile to switch to LaTeX.

Which is why MSOffice has been so popular in the past. It is designed around the needs of a group of people who produce large quantities of short one-time reports and letters.

LaTeX - flavoured OpenOffice
by Steven Kirk on Thu 9th Jun 2005 13:45 UTC


A short plug for OOoLatexEquation:

http://www.fyma.ucl.ac.be/wiki/~piroux/OOo%20macro

Lets you embed LaTex equations in OOo documents as PNG or EPS, and stores the original LaTeX notation in the image metadata - just doubleclick on the embedded equation image, and up pops the LaTeX 'source' for easy editing.

TeXPoint does something similar for MS Word.

A Little Perspective
by Bruce on Thu 9th Jun 2005 16:45 UTC

I'd like to take issue with this comment from the author:

Quite simply, anyone who is writing non-trivial documents and is tired of being let down by the performance of the current crop of word processors. If you are in academia, you really ought to be using it!

I'm sorry, but this is just not true outside of math. The majority of the academy is absolutely dominated by MS Word to the point it's almost impossible to work (for example to publish) without it. I manage to, but I use XML for document coding because I find it a much better solution than LaTeX for my needs.

And yes, I have years of experience with TeX.

Just a few remarks
by renoX on Thu 9th Jun 2005 21:10 UTC

>The fact is that people prefer what they're used to.

Not necessarily true, I'm used to Word but I think that it sucks: FrameMaker is (well was: it's been years since I used it) much, much better.

As for Latex formatting, I don't know why people like it so much: when I was preparing a thesis (a long time ago 1996), I could easily see the paper made using Latex: images were often not on the same pages as the text which referred to it, which sucks from a readability point of view, sometimes the images were all put at the end of the chapter, which is even worse.

Also back then, Latex sucked for internationalisation, but I think this have been fixed..

I tried to learn it once and concluded that this sh****^Wpoor language wasn't for me..
I hope that a better language such as skribe http://www-sop.inria.fr/mimosa/fp/Skribe/ will replace it eventually, but I'm not holding my breath..