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Re: Free Octave book in spanish (Part II)

From: Madhusudan Singh
Subject: Re: Free Octave book in spanish (Part II)
Date: Sat, 28 Jan 2006 11:03:12 -0500
User-agent: KMail/1.8.3

> I translated the file to ODT because XML is the best format in the
> effort/result ratio.  ANYONE can edit an Open Office document and it has a

That statement is strictly true only for a person who is not very proficient 
with LaTeX. I remember that for my thesis presentation, I had to use PDFLaTeX 
+ beamer because it involved the least effort, and I got a layout which would 
have been extremely hard and time consuming to achieve with Impress (and time 
is something that you do not have at the end of grad school). It looked so 
professional, regular,  and yet not tastelessly flashy that I was hooked to 
that combination.

Not to knock OpenOffice or any other WYSIWYG method of producing documents, 
but when you are dealing with mathematical o/p and a large number of 
similarly formatted pages with illustrations, there is really nothing with a 
vanishingly small effort and high return like LaTeX.

Even now when I have to present results of my experiments, creating a beamer 
latex document takes me a fraction of the time it would take with any WYSIWYG 

And do not forget that there are a lot of users of Microsoft's products who 
may not be able to work the OpenDocument seamlessly thanks to that company's 
shameless attempt at trying to keep its market share through standards 
non-compliance. Yes, they can always download and install OpenOffice, but 
that involves extra effort.

OTOH, LaTeX distributions exist for all operating systems and produce 
identical o/p everywhere. There are no conversion hassles involved because 
you are dealing with a plain text file that defines its own format (as does 
XML, but you are more dependent on a specialized program, as against a simple 
text editor like emacs / vi / notepad,  to edit it).

> very nice output.  The pdf conversion is amazing, it can handle pdf 1.4
> perfectly.  I'm impressed with the formula editor.  It has a latex-like
> syntax and it's really fast.

As can pdflatex. And formula editor is painful to use compared to just typing 
in the equation. All that time and effort wasted in clicks and selects. When 
I started in grad school, I knew some LaTeX but also used Word. I found 
through painful experience that entering equations in Word often doubled or 
tripled the time and effort I had to invest in writing up a document or a 
paper. There is a reason why LaTeX is standard in disciplines that use a 
decent amount of mathematical text - its the most productive and easiest (on 
the clock, and on your wrists) way of typing in those documents.

The Formula Editor is perhaps the single biggest reason to move from WYSIWYG 
to LaTeX.

> >Not only do I not know ODT, but I just realised that it's an OO.o v2
> >format. You're making me download stuff from the unstable Debian
> >distribution. :)
> OpenOffice 2 is in testing now and so is Octave.  We're on Debian testing
> at the laboratory and everything goes flawless.  (Read the comment and
> forget it: we're making the move to Ubuntu and Kubuntu because we're tired
> of the Holy Trinity; Debian is stable, testing and unstable at the same
> time)

No. Debian is not in stable / testing / unstable at the same time. They have 
three different offerings for people who want stability, who want some 
stability with some cutting edge stuff, and those who just want the cutting 
edge stuff. IMO, its the most logically structured of all Linux distros. 
Ubuntu is a fine effort to create a unified distribution, but I think it 
tries to ignore the fact that newly released software just does not have the 
stability of an older version - it has to do with exposure to users, bug 
reports, fixing of bugs, just time. Software stability improves upon 
acquaintance with the user and time, and that is an immutable rule that 
single fork distribution vendors often ignore. The people at Debian showed 
great foresight in designing the structure of their releases the way they 

> >I don't know a word of LaTeX, but I use TeXmacs (,
> >nice looking documents (LaTeX quality), easier to learn and you can use it
> >as interface for Octave  (!) or Gnuplot.
> The latex document is too long and complicated to be handled by texmacs. 
> At the beginning it was a LyX file till I realized that the document was
> full of LaTeX hacks. Now you must edit it in plain LaTeX
> guillem

TeXmacs is more than just a method of typesetting text, you can also embed 
entire Mathematica / Matlab , etc. sessions inside it. It is a very fine 
product. However for purely generating documents, and guarranteed consistency 
with journal styles, WYSIWYG methods just do not match LaTeX in speed and 
power (I have used both).

As your own experience with LyX showed you, these attempts at finding a middle 
ground between WYSIWYG and WYSIWYW often create more trouble than they are 


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