[OS X TeX] your wiki needs you?

Alain Schremmer schremmer.alain at gmail.com
Thu Sep 18 18:34:33 CEST 2008



On Sep 18, 2008, at 9:47 AM, cfrees at imapmail.org wrote:
> On Wed 17th Sep, 2008 at 21:39, Alain Schremmer seems to have written:
>> On Sep 17, 2008, at 6:27 PM, cfrees at imapmail.org wrote:
>>> On Wed 17th Sep, 2008 at 18:01, Alain Schremmer seems to have  
>>> written:
>>
>>>> True, but I think that you still vastly the admittedly fear  
>>>> driven lack of understanding of people considering a possible  
>>>> alternative to MS Word. This is of course not to belittle the  
>>>> page 'Getting Started'.
>>
>>> It depends on the sense in which they want an "alternative". If they
>>> want an alternative word processor, nothing will convince them to  
>>> use
>>> TeX - and nor should it. But if somebody wants an alternative  
>>> approach,
>>> that's different.
>>
>> I don't see the difference. I have met a number of people who have  
>> just expressed interest in LaTeX but said that  they had heard  
>> that it was hard to install, that the learning curve was steep,  
>> etc and that they were not THAT interested. So, I don't think that  
>> dividing the world into "word processor" addicts and people who  
>> will not be able to live without an alternative approach?for what  
>> reason would they? There are the people who are interested just  
>> because it is different, there are those who are interested  
>> because a friend of theirs has become a LaTeXite and they want,  
>> usually to a very mild extent, to know what it is about, etc
>
> Maybe we just have different experiences. I've met people with this
> interest, too, but those people have only wanted to know about it -
> they haven't been interested in installing or using it.

In the case of the people I have in mind, the deterrence was there  
all right because they have downloaded other stuff that they don't  
use much, including in at least one case LyX.

> I'm not thinking of installation or set-up here - that can be, and is
> being, made a whole lot easier and more user-friendly. As you say,
> MacTeX etc. is a big step in that direction. But even if you use
> templates, macros, snippets etc., you still have to get used to seeing
> source code rather than formatted text. I think that's a big leap for
> most people.

True, but markup need not be very hard either and with good macros  
and a flash mode, could be almost by-passed. My point is that for  
"ordinary" mathematical stuff, LaTeX could be made to be as easy as  
word processors. After all, why is LyX the only one? Why am I to  
suppose that it is impossible to write a word processor in which the  
algorithms are TeX instead of the usual ones?

>>> If somebody is comfortable with Word - even a little irritated -
>>> there's just not enough reason to go through the process of  
>>> switching.
>>
>> Again, being uncomfortable with Word is not necessarily what  
>> motivates people. You know, some people are just plain curious.
>
> I don't mean to underestimate this. Curiosity can be a big motivator.
> But I haven't actually met anybody in this category so either I just
> don't meet the right people or there are not very many of them. (Maybe
> the first - I really don't know.)

It probably depends a lot on where you live and, therefore, the kind  
of people you meet.

>>> Which isn't to say it isn't good to make it seem less  
>>> intimidating and
>>> more manageable or to soothe unfounded fears. But some of the  
>>> fears are
>>> well-founded and there's no getting around that, I think.
>>
>> While these fears had good cause, the causes were often  
>> unnecessary and there used to be a "hermetic" side to LaTeX as  
>> with Mathematics. A "club mentality" if you would. However, the  
>> way I understand it, TeXLive and MacTeX 2008 are giant steps in a  
>> direction I like, that of "the rest of us".
>
> I agree - some of the fears were - and are - quite unnecessary. But
> there is a remainder after you eliminate those.
>
> But maybe my experience is just biased - I know very few people who've
> shown any interest in LaTeX and even fewer who use it. So maybe I just
> underestimate the potential "market" for it.

I really think that you do—but then you are in good company.

> Then again, I wouldn't really recommend LaTeX to somebody in my field
> as things are. Way too many conferences/journals etc. won't take PDF
> submissions. So maybe that's part of it, too. If OpenOffice had  
> been as
> good as it is now (on OS X), I'm not sure I would have switched to  
> LaTeX. I only really did it because Word kept chucking my work away  
> and I
> couldn't find a decent alternative at the time.

Same here.

> Which isn't to say that
> I would consider switching to OpenOffice now - though I have been
> wondering recently if this wouldn't really be a whole lot more
> sensible. Turning LaTeX into Word is a real pain.

It certainly is.

Condoling regards
--schremmer
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