[OS X TeX] Preparing A Textbook Using Mac/TeX
will.adams at frycomm.com
Fri Sep 29 15:00:25 CEST 2006
On Sep 28, 2006, at 7:58 PM, Jeffrey Weimer wrote:
> This is a query about the use of TeX on MacOS X for preparing a
> college level textbook. I apologize if it is too off-topic. I am
> gathering information, and this list seemed like one place to post.
> Recommendations for other resources would be greatly appreciated.
First off, this would probably be better for TeXhax or comp.text.tex.
I'll post some quick notes below and you can then let us know where
the follow-up would be.
> After teaching an engineering course for over 10 years, I have
> accumulated a wealth of practice/exam/homework problems (TeX) with
> solutions (Maple/Igor Pro/Excel), a mass of lecture notes
> (PowerPoint), images (some in ClarisDraw on Classic!), reference
> URLs, and text notes (TeX). I am now running around with a strong
> desire to put this all into a complete, coherent package to sell
One thing you'll need to do is to get the graphics into some
standardized set of formats suitable for pre-press production if
you're going to be typesetting this yourself.
> The outcome I foresee is a self-contained textbook/CD with
> interactive, hyper-referenced text, images, and problems.
Interesting, but a thorny difficulty here is that each publisher has
their own preferences / expectations for a CD-ROM version, so this
may be a hard sell, or you may find a publisher who's willing to turn
the CD-ROM over to you in its entirety. Have you read any of the
``get your book published'' books?
> Plan of Attack
> I am investigating OmniOutliner as a starting point for the
> organization of all the "stuff". I see it is scriptable and has a
> LaTeX converter, which means Outlines -> TeX/LaTeX might be
> possible as an efficient, rapid way to compose the document
> skeleton and then compile the document content. I also know Maple
> exports to LaTeX, and it has an internal "problem creating"
> environment as well. I am also querying book publishers about their
> "on-line" problem development tools as a way to create interactive
> quizzes and study sets of problems (we use the OWL system here for
> our Chemistry courses as an example). I have also just found the
> exerquiz package at CTAN, suggesting that I can get away from
> "proprietary" publisher specific tools (such as OWL and/or
> MapleSoft) to make interactive, self-contained problem sets.
Sounds good, but see above.
> The Questions
> 1) What TeX implementation would be "best" for all this? Right now,
> I use TeXShop with LaTeX. I am open to learning a different setup
> (ie, ConTeX???) for the advantages of better integration with all
> the document management tasks.
Well, if you're using exerquiz you'd seem to need to stick to LaTeX
(which is fine).
> 2) What TeX packages are recommended to help me better integrate/
> oversee the "stuff" when it needs to be compiled (perhaps this is
> answered in the above question). For example, I remember mention of
> a "problemset???" package that allows one to keep problems
> organized in folders with sub-folders, but I cannot seem now to
> find the reference. The exerquiz package looks like it could be
> useful. What else would be useful (TeX or non-TeX)?
Dave Walden has done some nifty articles for TUGboat / Practical TeX
on this. My suggestion would be to start out by joining TUG, reading
through the old issues and checking through archives of various
mailing lists and comp.text.tex --- it's been a rare book I've worked
on where every difficulty I've encountered wasn't solved either in
the FAQ, by using a package on CTAN or finding just the right post
here, on texhax or on usenet:comp.text.tex.
> Any other pointers from someone who has traveled this road would be
> greatly appreciated. I welcome any and all feedback and suggestions.
Well, one thing which hasn't been mentioned is the idea of the form
your submission to a publisher will take --- Peter Wilson's memoir
has a draft mode which matches the traditional form for this quite
nicely. If you don't find a publisher you'll need to cover all the
bases which they do, editing and proofreading, a design, pre-press
issues, CD-duplication &c.
Here's a .pdf which does an excellent job of noting what should be
done when in book production and may spur you to think of some things
senior graphic designer
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