LaTeX, MS Word, asking questions, LyX (was Re: [OS X TeX] 1/2" margins)
weimerj at email.uah.edu
Fri Oct 13 19:29:31 CEST 2006
On Oct 13, 2006, at 7:10 AM, Claus Gerhardt wrote:
> I have to defend latex (tex). The basics of latex are not hard to
> learn: after two weeks of reading George Grätzer's "Math into
> Latex" and some typing, one should be able to write (=type) a
> paper. That stage I would describe as using latex light.
> After a month one should be able to set the margins to 1/2in by
> looking in the Latex Companion, look up margin in the index.
I was introduced to TeX/LaTeX back in the 80's when GUI/WYSIWG
packages were ... non-existent. I work in an environment that demands
programming skills - the ability to program is essential, if not to
my survival than at least to my advancement. I recognize that, just
because a computer tool is "easier to use" does not mean it gives the
proper or better output. In this frame of reference, the above
comment is just a shrug of my shoulders - ok, so I need some time to
do this the better or proper way, let's go do it.
By comparison, I suspect many people today who want to type a basic
document do not want the anticipation of needing a month to final
know how to set document margins to 1/2 inch, let alone the
understanding that, to do so requires "learning" a sequence of
programming (ie, "non-GUI") steps.
IMO, this should be the framework of any development of a LaTeX Lite
program: What functions do a majority of people who type documents
desire in being able to format and layout their document? What set of
those desired functions are core to preparing general classes of
documents? How are those functions currently implemented in LaTex and
its various input engines? How could the implementation of those
functions be streamlined/improved from the perspective of the NEXT
GENERATION of potential USERS?
Coordinating and standardizing the myriad of LaTeX packages that do
just about the same thing is but one part of this process. Attacking
the GUI side of the LaTeX input/document output process is, IMO,
another. I would argue, in this age where the typical computer user
has never learned or has no real interest in anything beyond GUI/
WYSIWYG programs, the latter part of the development will be the real
"make or break" part of any "lite" version of LaTeX. I would go so
far as to say, increasing the ratio of (Output Quality) / (Input
Effort) will be the biggest challenge to survivability of any
existing or yet to be developed software package, where Input Effort
is focused on GUI / WYSIWYG / User Intuition factors first and
foremost. I would also argue, we have reached a point where, for most
users today, the differences between a document generated by LaTeX
and one generated by WYSIWYG are .... of no real consequence. The
message is pervading even in my field where, for example, I now find
that journals will accept RTF/doc files directly for publication and
in some cases have no further interest in taking LaTeX files.
Finally, in all of this, the bigger question is, who cares? Are those
who use LaTeX (myself included) at all interested in doing the
hypothetical equivalent of market surveys to make their product more
palatable to the world? Who's ready to do the work to make it happen?
I know my first reaction to the above questions is ... "... well, if
someone else wants to, I might throw in some stuff if I can ....".
Loosely translated, this says --- "Hello, thank you for letting me
join the club. Can I take that beer can to the garbage while I am
going that way? BTW, where's the food?"
Anyway, these are just my ramblings on a Friday after a long week. I
am finding the thread informative and enjoyable.
J. J. Weimer, Chemistry / Chemical & Materials Engineering
University of Alabama in Huntsville, MSB 125, 301 Sparkman Dr
Huntsville, AL 35899 phone: 256-824-6954
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