[texhax] Interaction with Scientific Word Documents and basic LaTeX questions

Barbara Beeton bnb at ams.org
Mon Jul 5 22:11:19 CEST 2010

On Sun, 4 Jul 2010, Thomas Jacobs wrote:

    Hi, I am a Windows MiKTeX user working in TeXnicCenter and have a
    coauthor that is a Scientific Word user. [...]

regarding scientific workplace, i've
already read the comments by phil taylor
and lars madsen.

at tug 2010, i spoke with barry mackichan,
the principal of mackichan, in turn the
purveyors of scientific word/workplace.
i mentioned to him that there are some
misfeatures in sw that cause problems in
production at the math society (my employer),
and i will be in touch with the sw staff
regarding these problems -- one of which
is noted below.


    1.  On working with a Scientific Word user the aforementioned post
    indicated that they (the SW user) should save their document in
    Portable LaTeX format.  Can anyone comment on whether there are other
    things I should ask the coauthor to do in order to manage the editing
    process with the least difficulty?

try to persuade the author to learn a bit
about latex.  even if the author never
switches out of sw, this will still make
it easier to understand what's going on.

    2.  On simple LaTeX commands I was unable to find (no doubt my fault)
    in either Kopka and Daly (2004) or Mittelbach and Goossens (2004):

    a.  What is the purpose of a backslash without an appended command?
    For example, I find them between all sentences as in this excerpt:

    TIPS are coupon bonds that have been issued by the U.S. government since
    1997. \ They are currently auctioned at 5-, 10-, and 30-year maturities. \
    Unlike standard Treasury notes and bonds whose coupon and principal are
    fixed dollar payments, TIPS make payments proportional to the Consumer Price
    Index (CPI).

    I have never seen this before and wondered what purpose it serves.

this is the result of typing in multiple
spaces.  if five spaces were typed, the
result would be " \ \ \ \ ".

i consider this a serious misfeature.  the
probable reason for inserting the extra
"\ "s is to allow a user to "space over"
for indenting as on a typewriter.  i will
try my best to convince the sw programming
staff that this is a *bad* *idea*, but
even if i succeed, it won't happen at once.
it is probably best to reduce " \ " to a
single space throughout any file produced
with sw.  using a "search and replace
selectively" function in a good editor is
the safest way to do this, to avoid removing
intentional multiple spaces in an essentially
verbatim (monospace) environment.

    b.  Does the following structure


    serve to keep the = signs aligned in a multiline equation?  If not,
    what do the & on each side of the equals sign do?

as already pointed out, this is the required
syntax for the eqnarray environment.  i will
try to persuade the sw programmers that using
the multi-line display structures of amsmath
is a much better approach.  again, even if
successful, it won't help you now.

another "gotcha" is related to the use of
"large operators" (integrals, products,
co=products, etc.) in index terms.  the way
sw works, it's necessary to determine the
current environment (text or display) in
order to use the correct size.  unfortunately,
sw does this by way of a "choice" operation;
it doesn't happen "natively" as it does in
tex.  for this, the sw macro contains a lot
of extra code that is commented out when the
file is written out as "portable latex", with
the result that, although the .idx file goes
through makeindex with no problem, as soon as
such an index term is encountered in running
the index, it causes latex to crash with a
"runaway argument", since the last part of
the line is hidden behind a % sign.  another
misfeature; this has been brought to the
attention of the sw programmers, but no
response yet.

good luck.
						-- bb

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