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theme of this issue is "Tools for LaTeX and TeX
Users". This collection of articles presents several
representative papers that provide the reader with an
overview of current tools and methods available to easily edit
LaTeX documents. As regards the amount of papers
accepted, this is the biggest issue ever edited! I am
delighted and deeply grateful to the authors who
submitted papers answering our call for papers, and
readers who sent us feedback on earlier issues.
It is well known that the readers' comments are very
important to the improvement of the Journal.
In this sense, several internal improvements have been made to enlarge the communication channel among editors, production editors, and authors. The improvements were extended to: papers accepted in different languages; SVN tools being used to interchange files; papers formatted on both source and screen types; and many other areas. Using Assembla http://www.assembla.com, we were able to assist authors in producing, fine-tuning and publishing their pieces of art.
In this issue we have included only those papers which we thought would guide readers to easily understandable and usable ideas. Trying to obtain both simple and practical flows of ideas, we compiled this issue in four main categories, as follows:
First Category - Users' experiences
Experienced users have a lot of information that may be of value to beginners in the amazing LaTeX land. In this sense, the paper presented by Theresa Song Loong reveals some of LaTeX's mystery. She shares with readers her experiences using LaTeX during her high school studies. In the same vein, Antero Neves gives us a high-level introduction on how to easily produce a LaTeX paper, using a top-down approach (this paper is in Portuguese only). In addition, Arne Henningsen shows how an educational institution can achieve valuable results when it promotes the use of LaTeX and other mainstream tools to assist in research.
Second Category - Useful gadgets
Currently, users have access to numerous useful WYSIWYG tools to produce all of the text and formatting needed for use in non-LaTeX documents. For some background please see this article by Conrad Taylor. LaTeX users, of course, have a smaller set of tools they can use but these are becoming more plentiful and some are described in this issue. LaTeX packages are tools, and Arthur Buchsbaum and I chose this Journal to launch the turnstile package, a flexible tool which allows logicians to typeset the "turnstile" sign in its many forms. Wherever you go, you need a text or TeX editor, so Charilaos Skiadas and Thomas Kjosmoen present TextMate as the the most useful and intuitive editor for Mac OS X with a host of nifty LaTeX features. Vinicius Provenzano also shows how simple it can be to run Linux tools, such as a LaTeX editor called Kile, on a MAC OS environment. Jérôme Laurens presents the benefits of synchronism between PDF and TeX files when a pdfsync package is loaded. As far as graphics are concerned, Alexander Tsyplakov shows that almost everything is possible with TpX, a free source code LaTeX-oriented graphical editor. In a different vein, Duvvuri Venu Gopal presents an article that deals with the development of bibliographic databases to be used with BibTeX, which are accessible by various editors like Emacs and WinEdt and dedicated software like BibDB and TkBibTeX. Last, but not least, Fernando Sáenz-Pérez has contributed two interesting papers. The first paper shows a free, multiplatform bibliography manager (BibMgr) and citer for MS Word (Word Citer) using the BibTeX format. His second article describes another free and multiplatform tool that provides a configurable integrated development environment (ACIDE) that can be very useful for TeX users who need to use a free LaTeX editor.
Third Category - Collaborative efforts
Collaborative efforts using robust tools are becoming more popular but bring with them the problem of multiple versions of the same file. To address this problem, this category of articles shows some ways of solving the problem of tracking document and file versions. We received several excellent articles that shed light on how to best use these tools. Mark Eli Kalderon presents two papers on this topic. The first is a high-level paper on common problems of how to set up and use subversion, svn-multi, and LaTeX. The second one was a gift for PracTeX Journal and is a "helpdesk" paper which guides non-expert users on how to get in touch with production editors and co-authors by using SVN tools and Assembla. Additionally, Charilaos Skiadas, Thomas Kjosmoen and Mark Eli Kalderon present a deep study of Textmate and SVN bundle. Similarly, Uwe Ziegenhagen also describes the use of svn-multi with technical details for intermediate users. Martin Scharrer shows the user's viewpoint about the main features of SVN, and stresses the use of the svn-multi package when creating a collaborative paper.
Fourth Category - Quality
What could possibly be said here is that TeX is simply the best.
To make it easy for readers, here is a list of tools referenced or discussed in this issue:
Thank you and enjoy this issue!
For this issue we would like to see papers from a variety of people and points of view. If you are the LaTeX expert at your university or company, how do you teach LaTeX or TeX to new users? How do you update experienced users on new techniques. How do you teach LaTeX to: students, production staff, people in the math and physics departments, people in other disciplines (social science, literature, etc.). How do you teach basic LaTeX usage, specialized LaTeX usage (e.g. advanced mathematics, critical editions), standard LaTeX usage (is there a correct way to write LaTeX documents?).
If you are a newcomer to LaTeX, how would you like to see it taught? Are the current books and guides available good or bad? How would you improve them?
If you would like to relate your teaching experiences, or voice your opinions as a user trying to learn LaTeX, please contact the editors.Many people have collaborated directly or indirectly to the success of this electronic journal: the authors, particularly the ones who have worked with me in the revision process, the production editors, and the readers. They have discussed with me, suggesting all kinds of topics or helped me in the revision.
There is no way to write all the names, so I would like to mention Lance Carnes, Paul Blaga, Will Robertson, Yuri Robbers and David Walden for their intensive work in this Journal; and Allan Odgaard who kindly offered TEXTMATE gift licenses for each of us to use this amazing product; and some authors with whom friendships were formed throughout the preparation of this Journal, the most gratifying part of this work. This issue is for you!When I heard about LaTeX for the first time some years ago, I was very excited with the possibility of getting back the control of my texts. I remember that I used to type my texts in simple editors in console mode and there were no helpful tools. Today things have changed considerably and we have front-end tools, packages, internet, and a lot of gizmos to assist us with the hard task of producing good texts (.tex). In fact, it might be more difficult to explain why we do not use LaTeX 24h/day, and why we do not invite others to collaborate with us.
Professionals who write love LaTeX. The main reason is because LaTeX has exceptional facilities to work with text: book-quality typography, the ability to get the final art in PDF, legibility in any text editor. And it is completely stable and free. Therefore, in this Journal there are several papers giving their "testimonials" that LaTeX is for everyone.
When using LaTeX tools, your imagination is your limit! You can format texts, memos, letters, contracts, reports, and all sorts of documents. All you need is to be up-to-date with the right tools and packages. Having these resources at your disposal, you can do much more than the "basic" text WYSIWYG editors are offering today. In addition, graphics tools are also available. Last, but not least, our work is made easier with the use of free bibliography dataset development and management tools.
Today, we can produce fine texts in collaboration with people from different countries. Unfortunately, producing text will not be good enough if you loose control of your versions. Thus, I realised that version control systems are not being used only by programmers. In the programming field, where I include myself, we typically spend our time creating/fine tuning codes, and then undo these changes the next day. In a broader sense, the version control utility is mostly for us, writers! People usually use computers to organise their textual information so that it can undergo constant changes. This creates a natural need for ``version control''. Subversion, a widely-used version control system, is sufficiently robust to keep a record of all changes made, and can restore any earlier version of a file or document if desired. Subversion is a tool that is being used in producing this Journal because it allows the editors to easily organise, update, and exchange all the documents and files that make up an issue.
This issue presents some compelling experiences showing that producing text with LaTeX really works, for both expert and regular users. We focus on tools that can help us work more intuitively. Thus, the scope of the issue includes tools that assist the author in preparing graphics, indexes, bibliographies, and other parts of documents; previews and PostScript/PDF manipulation tools; free or almost free tools; and cross-platform tools. Therefore, I think we have presented articles on a range of tools that can help make hard work more pleasant.
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