[OS X TeX] Imposing Latex on authors of articles

Alain Schremmer schremmer.alain at gmail.com
Tue Feb 26 18:10:01 EST 2008

On Feb 26, 2008, at 9:58 AM, ludwik kowalski wrote:

> I am a new subscriber. About a week ago I successfully downloaded  
> and installed Latex software on my new iMac.  Then I started to  
> learn how to program in Latex language. So far I complied only  
> several short input files. What follows is an extract from notes I  
> am composing for myself. Do you agree with my observations? If not  
> then why not?

Others have discussed your observations and I agree with them. I only  
wish to bring the point of view of one who, three years ago, was  
exactly at the point you are and who is now engaged in a massive  
piece of work.

1) Yes, LaTeX can be a royal pain and not only to beginners. Just  
read the archives of this list.

2) Yes, I wish that some front end could be developed that would make  
LaTeX feel like a word processor. But I tried LyX at the beginning  
and it didn't feel good for me. And that would probably cripple  
LaTeX, something I still don't understand but have come to believe.  
See E) i. below.

So, why am I still using LaTeX and not about to change?

A) To begin with, I found MS Word's user friendliness to wear very  
thin very quickly and to be very limiting, not to mention that it  
once lost me several chapters of a "large document"—back ups  
included. (It felt as if Word corrupted the document as it was saving  
it so that the backups were corrupted too.)

B) LaTeX is non-proprietary and I put my stuff on the web under a GNU  
Free Document License which requires non-proprietary media.

C) Neo Office can't do one hundredth of what LaTeX does, is WAY too  
unstable and, anyhow, not likely to survive any better than Word and  
countless other word processors in the long run.

D) LaTeX does allow me to concentrate on what I am writing and to  
focus on the formatting I want but I feel I don't have to bother with  
certain aspects, e.g. fonts, chapter headings etc. The way I look at  
it, if anyone wants to change the look of what I write or clean it— 
they are welcome to do it —LaTeX makes it relatively easy while I  
doubt it could at all be done with a word processor.

E) Two points that the heavy weights who responded to you didn't  
	i. whatever the problem you have (e.g. multiple choice exams), there  
is always a way to solve it in LaTeX because it is infinitely  
flexible while, almost by definition, a word processor has only a  
finite number of things it can do, and
	ii. whenever you cannot find yourself the way to do it in LaTeX,  
there is always someone on this list who will bail you out.

Finally, and strangely enough, aside from the times LaTeX infuriates  
me, I have grown actually to like writing in it, a feeling I never  
had in fifteen years with Word.


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