wyswyg editors for tex (was re: replacement for openoffice)

Frank Jahnke jahnke at sonatabio.com
Mon Oct 8 19:43:32 PDT 2007

> From what little experience I have with PS and *roff the idea of
> hacking inline embedded languages just for typesetting sounds stupid
> beyond belief.... 

You have to learn one of the troff macro packages.  -ms is the easiest,
but I agree that a wysiwyg document processor is just easier for this
purpose.  I'm agnostic about this one, and use Abiword (which I have
never had any issues compiling, and do install all of the plug-ins),
TextMaker, OO.o, Word or WP.  For this purpose it does not really matter
much, and I have all installed, either natively or in a virtual machine.

For technical or scientific writing, though, there is nothing that can
replace TeX or troff unless you invest a lot of money into adjunct
programs for Word.  Even then you still wind up with an ugly document.
Sometimes that does not matter (like business letters) but hey, I'm a
perfectionist and want my documents to look good in addition to
containing good information.

FWIW, my "typical" scientific article has over 100 references (which
change as the document is written), a lot of partial differential
equations and their solutions, graphs, chemistry, tables, images (like
photomicrographs), and so forth.  For that troff and TeX are the only
way to go unless you want to spend a considerable amount of money for
Word add-ins.  By itself Word is not that good, but an ecosystem has
developed around it to make it workable.  And it is the standard.

I'll stand by my basic recommendation.  For everyday use and Word
compatibility, buy TextMaker (and PlanMaker if you use spreadsheets).
For the heavy lifting use TeX (or LaTeX or LyX) or troff and its
pre-processors and macro packages.

> and since all the more "traditional" (sorry I do not think of any
> inline text language as being "traditional")

Here you are misguided.  The text formatters *are* the traditional way
to process documents.  In fact, Unix existed only because its commercial
justification was the text processing system.  And that was built on
DEC's runoff (with its embedded codes), which the Unix fellows
abbreviated to roff, which became nroff for fixed-width character
devices, and troff for typesetters.

It took WordStar to change that paradigm (there are many other ones, of
course, but WS was the gorilla in the late 1970s and early 1980s).


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