[OS X TeX] Macintouch report on TeX versus Word

Jens Noeckel noeckel at uoregon.edu
Fri Jan 23 02:08:20 EST 2009

On Jan 22, 2009, at 10:52 PM, Franck Pastor wrote:

> Le 23-janv.-09 à 00:23, George Gratzer a écrit :
>> David,
>> Why are you so keen to expand the club? TeX was written by Knuth  
>> for his own use to write some books. He, and others, expanded it  
>> to other mathematicians. If for some reason non mathematicians  
>> want to use it, more power to them. But, really, why would anybody  
>> use Word, if the error messages were in C?
>> The interface you are looking for is available commercially:  
>> Scientific Word, I reviewed it for the Notices of the AMS in 1994,  
>> I believe. But you have to pay a stiff price.
>> A brand new version (for both Windows and Mac) will be out this  
>> year in the summer. I will review it in January 2010 in the Notices.
> In my opinion, LyX is more than a match for Scientific Word. It's  
> the same kind of interface, roughly the same features and it's free  
> (free as freedoom and as a beer:-)). But if by Scientific Word you  
> meant Scientific Workplace (Scientific Word + MuPad), I agree with  
> you:  the integration of a computational algebra software is a very  
> strong advantage.

I agree with Franck about LyX.

Scientific word/workplace has the notebook functionality that I like  
about Mathematica, but is also a nice editor. I was using it ten  
years ago on a Mac, but they stopped selling it for Mac OS X.  
Instead, I've meanwhile settled on LyX since it comes pretty close to  
the same authoring philosophy, more notebook-like than WYSIWYG.  
TeXMacs offers more integration with computer algebra systems etc.,  
but LyX manages to give LaTeX a "friendlier face." The LyX file  
format is still evolving, and it is not a one-to-one mapping to LaTeX  
syntax because LyX code is more XML-like, and will eventually be real  
XML (hence MathML output should become straightforward). But LaTeX  
and the standard packages remain the backbone of LyX on the input and  
output side. To me this seems to be a great way to promote LaTeX and  
at the same time add significant value.

Regarding an earlier post:
I share the consternation about Publicon. I like notebook-style  
interfaces, but for a typesetting tool there are some minimum  
requirements, such as a decent number of undo levels - Publicon, like  
Mathematica, only allows a single action to be undone. You quickly  
get tired of limitations like that when using Publicon (or  
Mathematica) as a pure writing tool. One reason why Publicon's story  
is sad is that Mathematica was always at the forefront when it comes  
to MathML, the markup language that brings math to the WWW. If they  
had a really useable front-end with easy LaTeX and MathML output,  
that would make many people very happy.
Again, I think that LyX is going to be the solution to that problem.


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