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

Mark Smith mark at bbprojects.net
Wed Nov 17 04:38:06 EST 2004

Ross Moore wrote:

>On 17/11/2004, at 9:54 AM, Mark Smith wrote:
>> Chris Goedde wrote:
>>> TeX very clearly separates content from formatting.
>> ...but not with this.
>The OP should have said:  "LaTeX very clearly separates content from

but I would agrue that even this is not entirely correct for typical usage which is probably what is relevant in the context of this thread.

>> Separation of content from formatting is not really what TeX is about.
>> That's more the domain of XML.
>XML is quite new technology. The concept of separation has been around for
>much, much longer than that, both in LaTeX and in SGML (and doubtless
>elsewhere, as well).

Of course. I mentioned XML precisely because it is very current and because e.g. DocBook is challenging TeX-based approaches in some areas.

>Lamport's original LaTeX was mostly a set of macros that he devised for
>his own convenience and that of his colleagues and secretarial staff. It
>has grown enormously since then, especially with LaTeX 2e and its package
>mechanism. That revision tried to place emphasis on the "separation of
>content from formatting". However, many authors fail to even recognise
>this aspect, since they can use TeX-isms to force the appearance to be
>something other than what LaTeX naturally produces.

For some the level of abstraction in LaTeX is inadequate (or put another way, the amount of effort required to achieve the separation required for all of their "elements" is too great). Others don't know anything apart from local style application. This is a similar situation to WPs. Hence my comment.

Sure, its possible to have a LaTeX style which is equivalent to a DTD or a
Schema, and then define everything in your document via structure, but as
you concede, most people don't work this way in LaTeX. They use local
instances where content and style are bound together just like in a WP.

At the same time, I contend that there are non-TeX, non-LaTeX lets say "writing packages" which provie as much separation of content
from style and they do it in a way which requires less customization of the "out of the box" solution.

>>> This has important consequences for usability.
>> This is true, but its not particularly relevant to the distinctions
>> between TeX and WPs IMO.
>Sorry, I disagree.  It's a core aspect.

I think separation of content and style is very important, but its not IMO
one of the core differences between typical LaTeX usage and typical WP
usage. Neither can one argue today, that TeX, LaTeX or ConTeXt offer more
to the expert user in terms of separation than any other accessible
document editing system. Taken together, the features of TeX, LaTeX or
ConTeXt will often be the best solution for a problem, but this will NEVER
be because the degree of separation is better than anywhere else.

I agree entirely with the rest of your post.

--------------------- 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