[texhax] Nastiness on texhax

Michael Barr barr at math.mcgill.ca
Fri Dec 16 15:49:02 CET 2011

Speaking for myself, I was disappointed by the nastiness of the answers 
given a perfectly reasonable question to texhax.  Have none of you heard 
the aphorism "You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar."  This 
should have been an occasion to try to explain how tex is WYAFIWYG: What 
you ask for is what you get.  And that the original learning curve is a 
bit steep, but latex makes it a lot easier and the results justify the 
extra effort.  I myself find MS-Word daunting and I resent that our 
administrators insist on send all messages as MS-Word attachments.  But 
that's just my hangup.

A colleague of mine prefers to use Scientific Word that promises latex 
output, while being (sort of) WYSIWYG.  So I asked to look at one of his 
papers.  I expected to see oceans of \ \ \ or explicit kerns, etc. 
Instead what I found were \begin{section} and 
\begin{theorem}...\end{theorem}.  In fact it was really not possible to 
tell it hadn't been composed in some standard tex editor.  Now I assume 
this reflects how he used it.  The program cannot tell you are starting a 
section or a theorem unless you tell it.  Still, if you don't mind paying 
for what you can get for free, it is a halfway house.

Just remember: tex is a tool, not a religion.


Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little
security will deserve neither and lose both.

            Benjamin Franklin

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