LaTeX, MS Word, asking questions, LyX (was Re: [OS X TeX] 1/2" margins)

Simon Spiegel simon at
Fri Oct 13 03:38:25 EDT 2006

On 13.10.2006, at 09:28, Bruno Voisin wrote:

> Le 13 oct. 06 à 08:43, Simon Spiegel a écrit :
>> It's probably true that I got sidetracked by your Word comparison,  
>> but then I must confess I don't understand what this LaTeX light  
>> is supposed to do.
> To Alain: sorry for having let you defend my opinion on your own, I  
> was a bit busy.
> What I meant is that I consider a waste of time and developers'  
> energy, for example, to have two (and possibly more) packages  
> memoir and koma-script for complex document structure, several  
> packages in addition to beamer for slides preparation, and so forth.
> The LaTeX 2e team made an excellent job, for example, of replacing  
> the several pre-existing packages for EPS figure inclusion  
> (epsf.tex, psfig, boxedeps, epsfig, possibly others I'm forgetting)  
> by the LaTeX graphics package, characterized by:
> - Being an integral part of LaTeX, in the "latex/required" CTAN  
> directory.
> - A minimal set of commands, and a short and to-the-point  
> documentation written using the docstrip package.
> - Full compatibility with core LaTeX, as defined by the content of  
> the "latex/base" directory.
> My dream is that all the additional packages --- probably most of  
> which described in the LaTeX Companion 2nd edn --- considered to be  
> part of the standard experience of a nowaday's LaTeX user are  
> applied the same process.
> For example, if geometry is considered the standard modern way of  
> defining page layout in LaTeX --- as opposed to redefining  
> \textwidth etc. as I have done until now ---, then:
> - Its commands should be reduced --- if necessary --- to a minimal  
> functional set.
> - Their working and naming --- if necessary --- should be put in  
> line with those in core LaTeX.
> - All incompatibilities --- if any --- should be resolved.
> - The documentation --- if necessary --- should be reduced so as to  
> contain all the information necessary for operating the package but  
> nothing more.
> - Finally the package should be moved to latex/required.
> hyperref, for example, is not part of latex/required yet, but it  
> seems the unique de-facto standard for HTML and PDF production in  
> LaTeX, and one can consider the above process has already been  
> applied to it.
> Similarly for complex document structure: pick one and only one of  
> memoir, koma-script and all the possible other packages that offer  
> this functionality. Which one: I don't care, provided the above  
> process is applied to it. I prefer to work around the limitations,  
> if any, of a package included in standard LaTeX and fully  
> coordinated with all the other components of this standard LaTeX,  
> rather than have to shop around for an additional package to be  
> chosen among several possibilities and not as coordinated with the  
> standard.
> Again it's a matter of time spent to accomplish a particular task:  
> without this step of looking for an additional package, you are  
> able to spend more time using LaTeX, and less time learning and  
> configuring it.

Maybe I'm just splitting hairs, but IMO this is not LaTeX light, but  
just a more organised LaTeX world. Most of the things you listed are,  
AFAICS, really just a question of organizing, standardizing and  
distributing things (which is difficult enough) and not of coming up  
with some kind of new LaTeX variant.

Simon Spiegel
Steinhaldenstr. 50
8002 Zürich

Telephon: ++41 44 451 5334
Mobophon: ++41 76 459 60 39

"I have never been certain that the moral of the Icarus myth is, as  
is generally accepted, 'don't fly too high', or whether it might also  
be thought of as: 'forget about the wax and feathers, and do a better  
job on the wings." Stanley Kubrick

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