[texhax] Fwd: TeX v. Word, etc.

Yuri Robbers yuri.robbers at gmail.com
Fri Aug 25 12:18:23 CEST 2006

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Yuri Robbers <yuri.robbers at gmail.com>
Date: Aug 25, 2006 2:30 AM
Subject: Re: [texhax] TeX v. Word, etc.
To: Juergen Fenn <juergen.fenn at gmx.de>

I have tried oolatex (with tetex under Gentoo linux - it compiled
immediately, without a single error) extensively, and it's virtually
useless. It converts to the old .sxw format rather than the more modern .odt
format, which need not be a problem. What is a problem, however, is that it
can deal with only the most basic LaTeX documents. As soon as something
slightly more complicated than an itemized list is used, the resulting .sxw
file will be corrupt and crash OOo as soon as one tries to open it. Pictures
are hopeless, other fonts than computer modern (which gets translated into
Times New Roman) don't work (apart from CM I've tried Lucida Bright,
Pandora, Bookman and Times), and don't even consider using something as
non-standard as the AMS document classes, redefining a counter (so that it
goes a. b. c. rather than 1. 2. 3. for example) or changing the way section
headings look. Mathematics are especially dramatic. Simple maths get

\int_0^4 \frac{1}{2} x^2 dx


[half an integral sign] 01
2 x dx

That's right: the {} get ignored, the integral sign gets butchered,  the
lower limit is wrong, the upper limit is missing, and the ^2 disappears
without a trace.

And anything more complicated than that just crashes OOo while the document
opens. Actually, even some simple things crash OOo after oolatex is done:
\pagebreak for example:

Hello, world!


Hello, world!

I considered renaming it \OOobreak after this...

So really... you might have better things to do with your time than trying
to get the current version of oolatex to work on your system, unless you
have the time to actually submit a decent bug-report or do some development
work on it...

It could be such a valuable tool, as could the reverse (oo2latex perhaps?),
but it isn't even close to being usable yet, and I am not holding my


On 8/24/06, Juergen Fenn <juergen.fenn at gmx.de> wrote:
> "Yuri Robbers" <yuri.robbers at gmail.com> writes:
> > I feel the ODF format is a step in the right direction when it comes to
> > office documents. I don't think it's quite there yet, but it's probably
> the
> > best we can hope for. My main two objections are:
> >
> > 1) Not all vendors support it (actually, apart from the commercial
> version
> > of OpenOffice, none of the commercial office programs support it, to my
> > knowledge), and many explicitly intend to not use it (probably since
> format
> > chances force people to update their software, which is a major source
> of
> > income for vendors). What use is a standard, ISO-certified or not, when
> only
> > a small minority uses it, or even intends to use it?
> AFAIK, ODT by now is a must in all public invitations to bid,
> especially by the European Union. MS products mostly do not fit these
> requirements because MS has always declined to support any standards.
> In these cases OOo indeed already was chosen by many public
> administrations in Europe. The last case was the administration of the
> Spanish region of Extremadura. Many German city administrations and
> public bodies already have switched to OOo, some on Windows, some on
> Linux, some are in the midst of migrating. MS struggles hard not to
> lose yet more market share. License fees for employees of companies
> that decide to keep to MS Office are as low as never before (one
> poster recently told us of 12 Euros per employee for a personal
> license of MS Office pro). So ISO certification for the ODT format was
> an important step that has really hurt MS. And the turn towards
> XML-based formats is a real turn-around for the MS-dominated
> market. MS Office now has to support ODT, and remember that at least
> in Europe when it comes to office suites there is *nothing* left
> besides MS Office and OOo (Word Perfect has disappeared from the
> market years ago).
> So with ODT step by step becoming the standard for data exchange, what
> really matters is how good LaTeX converters from and to ODT are. This
> far there is only one I know of, viz. tex4ht that has a new command
> named oolatex, but I have not yet been able to try it out because I
> didn't manage to install the new version on my machine and it does not
> work in my MiKTeX 2.4.
> Converters between LaTeX and office-suite formats unfortunately are
> not as good as they should be. Eg, I just realised that latex2rtf does
> not support the jurabib package, so when you write a paper in LaTeX
> for a German legal journal that encourages submissions in doc or rtf
> format (they all do because DTP programs can import these formats good
> enough) you cannot use BibTeX... don't know whether oolatex can cope
> with this properly...
> Regards,
> Jürgen.
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