[OS X TeX] your wiki needs you?

Joseph C. Slater PE, PhD joseph.slater at wright.edu
Thu Sep 18 13:48:51 EDT 2008

On Sep 18, 2008, at 12:34 PM, Alain Schremmer wrote:

> On Sep 18, 2008, at 9:47 AM, cfrees at imapmail.org wrote:
>> On Wed 17th Sep, 2008 at 21:39, Alain Schremmer seems to have  
>> written:
>>> On Sep 17, 2008, at 6:27 PM, cfrees at imapmail.org wrote:
>>>> On Wed 17th Sep, 2008 at 18:01, Alain Schremmer seems to have  
>>>> written:
>>>>> True, but I think that you still vastly the admittedly fear  
>>>>> driven lack of understanding of people considering a possible  
>>>>> alternative to MS Word. This is of course not to belittle the  
>>>>> page 'Getting Started'.
>>>> It depends on the sense in which they want an "alternative". If  
>>>> they
>>>> want an alternative word processor, nothing will convince them to  
>>>> use
>>>> TeX - and nor should it. But if somebody wants an alternative  
>>>> approach,
>>>> that's different.
>>> I don't see the difference. I have met a number of people who have  
>>> just expressed interest in LaTeX but said that  they had heard  
>>> that it was hard to install, that the learning curve was steep,  
>>> etc and that they were not THAT interested. So, I don't think that  
>>> dividing the world into "word processor" addicts and people who  
>>> will not be able to live without an alternative approach?for what  
>>> reason would they? There are the people who are interested just  
>>> because it is different, there are those who are interested  
>>> because a friend of theirs has become a LaTeXite and they want,  
>>> usually to a very mild extent, to know what it is about, etc
>> Maybe we just have different experiences. I've met people with this
>> interest, too, but those people have only wanted to know about it -
>> they haven't been interested in installing or using it.
> In the case of the people I have in mind, the deterrence was there  
> all right because they have downloaded other stuff that they don't  
> use much, including in at least one case LyX.
>> I'm not thinking of installation or set-up here - that can be, and is
>> being, made a whole lot easier and more user-friendly. As you say,
>> MacTeX etc. is a big step in that direction. But even if you use
>> templates, macros, snippets etc., you still have to get used to  
>> seeing
>> source code rather than formatted text. I think that's a big leap for
>> most people.
> True, but markup need not be very hard either and with good macros  
> and a flash mode, could be almost by-passed. My point is that for  
> "ordinary" mathematical stuff, LaTeX could be made to be as easy as  
> word processors.

Great in theory, but it's taken years to make LyX really useable in my  

> After all, why is LyX the only one?

LyX does this. What would would the competing version look like? If  
it's missing something, put in suggestions to the LyX team. It seems  
to me that LyX is the only one because it takes an enormous amount of  
effort, and the pay stinks.
> Why am I to suppose that it is impossible to write a word processor  
> in which the algorithms are TeX instead of the usual ones?

LyX proved it possible. Nobody wants you to suppose that it's  
impossible. It just hasn't been done yet, except, well, yes it has.  
LyX is open source, so anybody excited about a competing product could  
modify it's source code to fit their needs. Alas, there is no magical  
company providing the free programing for the effort. It's amazing how  
much does exist given the lack of financial reward for software  
authors. That's the "problem" with 'free software'. The users  
themselves are responsible for all development (with rare exceptions  
when a company wants to undercut another by giving competing software  
away). If enough people felt another WYSWIG-like program like LyX was  
needed, they would, presumably, start it. If nobody is interested  
enough to start coding, there clearly isn't sufficient motivation to  
get over the critical energy to complete the project.



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