[OS X TeX] Publicon today

Maarten Sneep maarten.sneep at xs4all.nl
Sun Mar 12 10:36:19 EST 2006

On 12 Mar 2006, at 15:32, Daniel Flatin wrote:

> It has been two years since Wolfram released Publicon. I was  
> wondering if anyone on this list uses this tool today.

Have there been updates to this application at all? I haven't heard  
anything about it after the initial release, and the initial reviews  
weren't positive at all.

I looked up the website, and it still seems to be at 1.0, and the  
LaTeX export isn't pretty. Neither is my LaTeX code (at least not  
always), but at least it is human readable. Publicon has to write out  
everything in plain amsmath, and cannot take advantage of macros (at  
least it doesn't). The generated LaTeX code contains several errors  
($a^{\gamma}_{N}^{\beta}$ is an error in LaTeX, at the moment I don't  
have a better idea to write out tensors, but I'm sure there is a neat  
package for this, perhaps $a^{\gamma}{}_{N}{}^{\beta}$ comes close to  
what they had intended). I also spotted a large row on \ \ \ in the  
provided LaTeX article sample on their web-page. The reference labels  
are humanly-unreadable (as is to be expected from a computer system).

> If so, do you use it as a stand alone document tool or a work  
> environment that you export to a LaTeX rendering environment? I  
> have been happy with TeXShop so far, but I find myself struggling  
> with customizing document formats. There are so many different  
> solutions within LaTeX in general, and in many cases the solutions  
> are small, purpose specific, and supported by a single author. The  
> fancyhdr package by Piet van Oostrum comes to mind.

Which is one of the better documented, and useful packages out there,  
not to mention one of the most compatible out there. Yes, there are  
instances where a few to a dozen packages exist that do nearly the  
same (dealing with itemize list-spacing, tables, ...), but I think  
that fancyhdr is one of the packages that is boh good and flexible  
enough to prevent competition. I agree that the standard document  
classes themselves leave a lot to be desired, but the reasones for  
not changing them are well documented elsewhere.

> Any complete LaTeX working environment is a pastiche of different  
> packages, each with it's own documentation, and perhaps second  
> order documentation about how two packages interact. It seems endless.

And how is Publicon (or any other system) supposed to work around  
this? The programming model for LaTeX makes this inevitable IMHO. Use  
a few commonly used and well supported packages. If the article has  
to be published in a Journal, then there is no way around LaTeX at  
the moment. For published articles you should use a publisher  
supplied format and let them figure out the mess.

If you want to reuse written material, and it is written in LaTeX,  
then the Memoir class or the KOMA-script classes offer an integrated  
flexible package and consistent documentation (I never used KOMA, I  
used Memoir to format my thesis). If dropping LaTeX is an option,  
then Context is a serious contender IMO.

> I use Mathematica quite a lot, and I was thinking that Publicon  
> might be a good bridge at least to getting that work into LaTeX.  
> What I need for work is the ability to strictly format front  
> matter, header, and footer information. It looks like Publicon  
> provides some template or style sheet customization. The folding  
> outline approach like Mathematica is also nice.

The outline is very nice (OmniOutliner in the first stages of writing  
a document is really nice, but I digress). If those items (fron  
matter, headers and footers) are the main concern, I think that the  
fancyhdr package offers already most of what you need (really). The  
front matter is usually easy enough to deal with, IMHO. The rest of  
the LaTeX export is probably on par with Mathematica (i.e. not very  
good, last time I tried).

As far as I can see, Publicon offers some pre-made styles for common  
journals, but lacks the flexibility to be a general solution, but I  
may have missed something on the web-page.

> I guess my questions distill down to:
> (3) Does its output play well with standard LaTeX?

have you looked at the samples on the Publicon web-site?

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