[OS X TeX] Various TeX programs on Mac

Alain Schremmer Schremmer.Alain at verizon.net
Sat May 8 09:32:27 EDT 2004

Since "the exception confirms the rule" (bad translation of "l'exception 
confirme la règle"), I will make an exception to my rule of 
non-interference and give a few more detail about my experience because 
some of it at least seems to be relevant to what is being attempted here 
and might clarify things.

I knew what TeX did (I had "skimmed" Knuth's TeX and Metafont at least 
ten years ago)
I knew, from asking/talking around, that the learning curve would be steep.
I knew that, being Open Source, TeX was likely to come in many shapes 
and flavors.
I was less interested in the tool than in what I was going to use the 
tool for.
I am not a complete idiot.

Once I found I /had/ to take the plunge, I was faced with:

The decision of which TeX to go with.
    But, in order to decide, I had the problem of not knowing the 
language in which descriptions of the various implementations of TeX 
were given.
So, I had to look for some literature on TeX.
    But what I could find was either on the beauties of TeX (of which I 
was already convinced) and/or on how to use TeX.

After having found Slater's page, I knew this was the starting point. 
But I had a terrible time understanding it. I even wrote to Slater 
remarking about it. He very graciously admitted that he had forgotten 
how bad it could be for a raw beginner. (Not his exact words.) I even 
starting to "rewrite" his page in order to understanding it. This is my 
standard MO in mathematics.

After having rewritten the first section, and on the basis of what (I 
thought) I understood, I tried to install iTeXMac but, for whatever 
reason, didn't make it. (Somewhere along the line, I think that I tried 
to use Fink.)

At this point, I looked for the TeXshop page and, as I have mentioned 
before, and thanks to the i-Installer, I was able to get an 
"application" that I could open. /That/ phase was short and sweet.

Now I am facing the "steep learning curve" for /using/ TeX but that's 
OK. This is something I know I can handle.

Well, I think that it is steeper than it ought to be—see my previous 
suggestions but it is not frustrating. (After all, I used to have to use 
MS Word's "command lines" before they finally got replaced by a version 
of MathType.) And of course there are tutorials and people I can ask a 
pointed question. The difference is that now I am at a stage where I can 
at least formulate the question.

So, again thanks for:

(a) bailing me out a couple of times in my learning of how to use TeX 
and even on the use of the Refresh/Reload button.
(b) addressing the issues the idiot-install I am had, per force, to face 



Will Robertson wrote:

> On 7 May 2004, at 22:30, Joseph C. Slater wrote:
>> On May 7, 2004, at 12:56 AM, Will Robertson wrote:
>>> Okay, so the matter of impartiality has come up. I must admit I have 
>>> only used Gerben's distribution on Mac OS X and MikTeX on Windows, 
>>> and for editing I've used TeXShop and iTeXMac a lot, tried out Alpha 
>>> and I'm meaning to get into Emacs.
>> "This scenario is for the person who is not Unix-inclined, hasn’t 
>> used LATEX in classic MacOS, and/or wants a completely free solution."
>> Boy, I thought that statement from my document was biased enough. If 
>> you haven't already used LaTeX on Mac, this section is for you, or 
>> you are experienced enough to understand the other sections. I'd like 
>> to give some credit to the reader.
> Bear with me as I comment on this, The reason all this has come up was 
> originally because Gerben asked about what we thought about 
> i-Installer. This changed to how easy TeX on Mac is in general --- and 
> most people said that it was especially easy but a couple said they 
> had a really hard time.
> These people said that even the introductions given by Gerben and 
> yourself introduced too much information at one time, and so to fix 
> the situation, I've tried coming up with what looks to me like a 
> decent solution for these people.
> I forgot to link to your page when I made some changes yesterday, but 
> it would go after Rebecca's as "a definitive introduction to the 
> various ways of using TeX on Mac OS X" or somesuch. Considering you 
> are maintaining *the* site for TeX on Mac, it would be a waste of time 
> for me not to collaborate with you so that the end product of whatever 
> we do here actually gets put somewhere *visible*.
> If you think the Mac-TeX site is as usable as it's ever going to be, 
> and don't want any changes made, then I may as well stop now.
> Will
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