[OS X TeX] Who should use (La)TeX - who is able to use it?

George Ghio ghiog at netconnect.com.au
Sun Nov 14 16:57:41 EST 2004

On 15/11/2004, at 12:21 AM, Arno Kruse wrote:

> Dear members of the list,
> For years I read the articles which are announced in this list with 
> great interest; I got  many suggestions and a lot of help - please 
> accept my best thanks.
> But during the last months a worrying feeling was arising more and 
> more, especially when reading the lot of sometimes extremely 
> complicated questions and answers: Is a "normal" user generally 
> capable to use  LaTeX?
> A "normal" user:
> I simply think of a person without absorbed interest in:
> 	operating systems;
> 	typographical rules;
> 	installing questions;
> 	learning commands;
> 	and so on.

You're not going to get more normal than me for this question.
I use TeX for writing. I cant remember the last time I used either 
(Appleworks / MS) for any serious writing.
I learned TeX largely by just doing it.
> A "normal" person, using w… or a comparable WYSIWYG-program.
> A person that
> 	- is accustomed to click an icon in order to format text is now 
> constrained to write \emph{} or \textbf{};
> 	- uses tabulators has to dive into the difficulties of \tabbing or 
> \tabular;
> 	- applies a handful of fonts TeX does not know about must deal with 
> difficulties only few persons in this universe understand;
> 	- and so on…

Writing a bit of code makes you think about what you are doing
> I hope you understand what I mean. Now and then a colleague - I am 
> teacher at a grammar school in Germany - indicates interest in my 
> latex-texshop written worksheets, and when I tell about LaTeX, there 
> is a lot of attention. But nobody is willing to learn what is 
> necessary, they continue working with w… or Ragtime.
> What to do?

TeX is worth the effort to learn. You only need to learn enough to do 
the job you want to do.

Yes there is a lot to learn. But then there is a lot to learn with MS 
or Mac.
But then there is this group of people who are to my mind a most 
helpful and friendly lot. All problems can be solved and indeed I have 
had them.

> It is easy to criticise, but tedious to make things better. Let me 
> give some ideas what we might do:
> 1. Most important: It must be much easier to use LaTeX. This begins 
> with the installation. Thanks to Gerben (next year in january I shall 
> finally transfer an amount to him, he is doing a great work) it is 
> quite easy for us, but not for a normal user, who is used to 
> double-click an icon, the rest is done without  pains.
> 2. People do not like to learn abstract commands, specially when they 
> get older; they need visual helps. The meaning of an icon they 
> understand and keep in mind, the correlating command they forget. So 
> Richard K. and Jérôme L. should end their quarreling, start working 
> together and concentrate on improving "iShop", making it usable easyly 
> for a normal user.
> 3. There must be a version of TeX that is suitable for the majority of 
> users - something like "Standard-TeX". This  "Standard-TeX" should 
> satisfy about 95% of the needs of all users. All relevant packages 
> must be included, the user ought to find them without difficulties; 
> the icons and helps other programs apply must exist in a similar way.
> The experts may then customize their installation the way they like.
> 4. The  future frontend "iShop" must  offer tabulars; Jérôme und 
> Richard are qualified to solve the intern difficulties when they 
> utilize the tabbing- or the tabular environment.
> 5. The problems concerning  fonts cannot be solved immediately, I 
> know, but the present state is completely beyond the pale.
> Enough.
> I hope the reader understands my motivation and my sorrows (and looks 
> after my decent ability to write English in a good manner). I fear 
> TeX, LaTeX and Co. are in danger to die out whether they do not match 
> the needs "normal" people are asking for.
> arno
> P.S.: I have tried out Lyx, and Lyx fulfils some of the points I 
> mentioned. But I do not like it, it is not mac-like.
> --------------------- Info ---------------------
> Mac-TeX Website: http://www.esm.psu.edu/mac-tex/
>           & FAQ: http://latex.yauh.de/faq/
> TeX FAQ: http://www.tex.ac.uk/faq
> List Post: <mailto:MacOSX-TeX at email.esm.psu.edu>

--------------------- Info ---------------------
Mac-TeX Website: http://www.esm.psu.edu/mac-tex/
           & FAQ: http://latex.yauh.de/faq/
TeX FAQ: http://www.tex.ac.uk/faq
List Post: <mailto:MacOSX-TeX at email.esm.psu.edu>

More information about the MacOSX-TeX mailing list