Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Oct 2009 00:37 UTC
Features, Office In the comments on our editorial about language purism and the Psystar case, it became quite clear that language is a subject almost everyone has an opinion on - not odd if you consider that language is at the very centre of what makes us "human". Since this appears to be a popular subject, let's talk about the influence computing has had on two very minor aspects of the Dutch language.
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RE: LaTeX!
by Doc Pain on Wed 28th Oct 2009 20:57 UTC in reply to "LaTeX!"
Doc Pain
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I use LaTex partly for that reason: using babel packages we get all the quoting, apostrophes and even the -ij- right. Diacritics are no problem, etc.

As an example: The german language has similar requirements as Thom mentioned, such as the correct use of single and double quotes, and very few uses of the apostrophe. LaTeX serves excellently here.

But not really a mass market solution, as most people are scared off by it... (also we can make a difference between -, -- and --- "hyphens", etc. Knuth is a language nerd too!

I'm using LaTeX only, because I consider a professional typesetting system to be a higher stage in evolution than a sloppy text processing program. :-)

Of course it isn't a "mass market solution", because it requires the user to be familiar with very few LaTeX technques (macros, document structing etc.). If you take the time to learn LaTeX (which isn't much different to learning HTML or C), you'll find the correct differentiation of content and form (note my "evolution" comment above) to be one of the strengths of this typesetting system. You don't have to care HOW things look, instead you tell LaTeX WHAT things are, e. g. a chapter caption, a footnote, or a quote. This makes it easy to design the process of creating the content as painless as possible. One of the means to do so is the absence of a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) style interface. Instead, a paradigm describable as YAFIYGI (you asked for it, you got it) is applied. So you don't end up in microformatting your documents (e. g. raising the font size and activating "bold" if you want something to be a headline). I know that many text processors offer the opportinuty to use predefined templates and styles for different "functions" of text, but most users simply don't use it; instead, they use microformatting as described.

Given those facts, LaTeX is not a "mass market solution" because it is a very professional tool. And as always, the worst solution prevails, so there's jut a "niche market" for LaTeX, mainly education and professional documentation, as well as very few writers. And because LaTeX isn't sold in shiny boxes on the shelf of computer shops, there is no "market" at all. At least "usage share" could count.

LaTeX is not as hard to use as its haters want everyone to believe. I started using it in school when I wanted my texts to be formatted accurately and searched for an easy means to import graphics and formulas. LaTeX can handle all this. And the learning curve is not that steep. When I was in school, there was no Internet that provided ready-made solutions, I had to learn it myself! :-)

One of the most advanced concepts of LaTeX is that even with all the fine character manipulations, graphics, formulas, tables and formattings, it is based on text files. You don't need LaTeX to create .tex files, and you don't need LaTeX and other tools to read (or modify) a ,tex file. Allthough there are macros in the text, you can read the content easily, it's much easier than reading XML stuff. Plain text is the most comfortable data format for interchange purposes between different operating systems.

Another fine thing is that you can easily turn your documents into PDF files that keep all your formatting intact.

Bottom line: Use LaTeX and get rid of all those silly problems. =^_^=

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