[OS X TeX] Preparing A Textbook Using Mac/TeX

Jeffrey Weimer weimerj at email.uah.edu
Thu Sep 28 19:58:49 EDT 2006

This is a query about the use of TeX on MacOS X for preparing a  
college level textbook. I apologize if it is too off-topic. I am  
gathering information, and this list seemed like one place to post.  
Recommendations for other resources would be greatly appreciated.

After teaching an engineering course for over 10 years, I have  
accumulated a wealth of practice/exam/homework problems (TeX) with  
solutions (Maple/Igor Pro/Excel), a mass of lecture notes  
(PowerPoint), images (some in ClarisDraw on Classic!), reference  
URLs, and text notes (TeX). I am now running around with a strong  
desire to put this all into a complete, coherent package to sell  

The outcome I foresee is a self-contained textbook/CD with  
interactive, hyper-referenced text, images, and problems.

Plan of Attack
I am investigating OmniOutliner as a starting point for the  
organization of all the "stuff". I see it is scriptable and has a  
LaTeX converter, which means Outlines -> TeX/LaTeX might be possible  
as an efficient, rapid way to compose the document skeleton and then  
compile the document content. I also know Maple exports to LaTeX, and  
it has an internal "problem creating" environment as well. I am also  
querying book publishers about their "on-line" problem development  
tools as a way to create interactive quizzes and study sets of  
problems (we use the OWL system here for our Chemistry courses as an  
example). I have also just found the exerquiz package at CTAN,  
suggesting that I can get away from "proprietary" publisher specific  
tools (such as OWL and/or MapleSoft) to make interactive, self- 
contained problem sets.

The Questions
1) What TeX implementation would be "best" for all this? Right now, I  
use TeXShop with LaTeX. I am open to learning a different setup (ie,  
ConTeX???) for the advantages of better integration with all the  
document management tasks.

2) What TeX packages are recommended to help me better integrate/ 
oversee the "stuff" when it needs to be compiled (perhaps this is  
answered in the above question). For example, I remember mention of a  
"problemset???" package that allows one to keep problems organized in  
folders with sub-folders, but I cannot seem now to find the  
reference. The exerquiz package looks like it could be useful. What  
else would be useful (TeX or non-TeX)?

Any other pointers from someone who has traveled this road would be  
greatly appreciated. I welcome any and all feedback and suggestions.

Thanks in advance.

J. J. Weimer, Chemistry / Chemical & Materials Engineering
University of Alabama in Huntsville, MSB 125, 301 Sparkman Dr
Huntsville, AL 35899                phone: 256-824-6954

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