The virtual TeX guru (was Re: [OS X TeX] TeX is not for the faint of heart)

Jérôme Laurens jerome.laurens at
Thu May 6 08:51:57 EDT 2004

Le 6 mai 04, à 13:33, Maarten Sneep a écrit :

> On 6 mei 2004, at 12:43, Will Robertson wrote:
>> Gary L. Gray wrote:
>>> We simply need to make that page the best it can be. The benefit of 
>>> using our (Joe Slater and me) page is that we don't have to pay for 
>>> a domain name and we don't have to pay for hosting.
>>> I should also mention that we are willing to host anything Mac OS X 
>>> TeX related on that machine. We have tons of disk space and 
>>> bandwidth (heck, PSU is an Internet 2 site).
>> Are you saying there's no point in buying, or that if it 
>> was bought, your current machine is a good one to host it from?
> To be honest, I think that all things TeX -- regardless of platform -- 
> should start from, maybe with links to platform specific links 
> from there. There is an important distinction, which the OP missed I 
> think: TeX and LaTeX have many layers, but three items stand out: 
> "Installing TeX & co", "Using the programs" and "Using TeX".
> The first item is a non-event on the Mac, thanks to Gerben, and Andrew 
> Trevorrow and Tom Kiffe before him.
> The second item is also fairly easy, thanks to Richard and Jerôme,
> The third item is deceitfully hard -- slightly depending on the task 
> at hand. Luckily, the third item is also very platform _independent_, 
> so we can tap into the work done at, the not so short 
> introduction..., the latex primer, the UK tex faq, etc.
> While we should provide pointers to new users where to get 
> information, I think it is important to limit the mactex website to 
> the first two items, and leave the third item to TUG.

In a TeX user's life, quite the whole part is dedicated to point 3 
above, and we all agree that it is the most delicate part.
We can now say that installing TeX and using the programs on mac OS X 
is quite a one click job, but this is not really what happens for 
"using TeX". Moreover, I have never seen any doc saying that once you 
have installed TeX and a front end the -big- job is in front of you (if 
you are not already a TeX addict!), on the contrary, there seems to be 
a general tendancy to say how marvelous the world has become once you 
have succeeded in your installation.
For MS Word switchers, the fact is that some real work/time is needed 
to reach the same efficiency.
As there is nothing to prevent them believe that the transition from 
Word 2 TeX is not immediate and transparent, their deception will lead 
them to switch back with a very negative impression. And I let you 
imagine what they would tell to potential switchers.

The question is: how can we really improve the "using tex" learning 

- with appropriate frontends like LyX, Scientific Word (not TeXShop nor 
- with documentation
- with .texd wrappers

The documentation concerns
- what command should I use to perform this?
- conversely, what is the effect of this command?
- how do I use this command?

The first point is the most important one for beginners. In general, 
they will find the information in books, TeX catalog online, LaTeX 
Help, ... , but unfortunately, the best location still remains a TeX 

May be a dynamic, searchable, electronic TeX companion would be great 
as virtual TeX guru. This would be a big data base organized in clear 
sections, such that for example LaTeX->Math->Systems would let me to a 
page where basic LaTeX capabilities are gathered with PDF output and 
source code extracts and access to related packages documentation.
I just take a look at the PDF and if it fits my need I just click a 
button et voilà, the correct code is inserted in my favourite LaTeX 
I told a few words about this idea at EuroTeX 2003, but got no feedback.
It seems to me that some people in Germany have a similar project but I 
cannot find it anymore.

Please see <> for list
guidelines, information, and LaTeX/TeX resources.

More information about the MacOSX-TeX mailing list