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:
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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 :-).