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Re: OT: Choice of OOo and LaTeX (Was: Tool for document management)

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Steve Lamb wrote:
> David Brodbeck wrote:
>> As long as you realize it probably won't look the same to the other
>> person, unless they have the same Word version, the same operating
>> system, and the same fonts.
>     It will look similar enough.

... or it will explode in your face - your mileage will vary. At least
that is what happened when I got my word document back from a colleague
who had just made a couple of small changes. The version I sent was
written with Office 2000, the one I got back was apparently edited with
2003 for mac. M$ generously asked me, if I'd like to report the problem
back to them.

I am still waiting for their reply and the bug fix :-(

I had to try several computers with different combinations of their OS
and Office product to spot one that could open the document without
crashing. Even on this one some formatting is displayed incorrectly and
formulas cannot be edited (yes, their formula editor is installed and
works for other documents).

>> It's rare that someone sends me a complicated Word file and I'm able
>> to print it cleanly without adjustments.
>     Good thing that what I'm writing is not at all complex.  The two most
> complex things are italics and indent-first-line.

Too complex to be handled by word could mean more than a couple pages of
'simple' text. Remember the program is called 'word' not words, lines,
paragraphs, pages, chapters, book, etc.

>> A little free advice:  If you're planning on writing long documents,
>> such as books,
>     What kind of books?  You description goes on to describe what sounds to
> be a technical manual.  Someone else mentioned mathematics.  Another
> person talked about technical writing.
>     Am I writing a book?  Yes.
>     Am I writing a technical book?  No!
>     I am writing fiction.  I have no in-line graphics, complex font changes
> for examples, silly little icons to denote special sections, massive
> indention or the like.  This is strictly line-after-line prose which
> could be done plain text except for the fact that I am making use of
> italics as a conscious style choice to reinforce when a character is
> /'thinking'/ something versus "saying" something.
>     So, as I had repeated several times, I'm sure LaTeX is wonderful for
> what it is designed for.  

To say it with the words of the author of tex: "TeX, a new typesetting
system intended for the creation of beautiful books [...]"

>                          However it is not something I am interested in
> learning for the purposes I would put it to at this time.  The constant
> hammering with examples which are far beyond the requirements of the
> style I writing I am engaging in is getting a tad tiresome.  I want
> WYSIWYG because it helps me think about what is happening.  I want
> simple and easy-to-convert to a common format because I don't know if
> and by whom this project would be picked up.  

As someone suggested: try lyx or texmacs as wysiwyg editors for
TeX/LaTeX. (I have little first hand experience, though as I don't like

>                                               I don't want a complex
> programming language because I am writing fiction, not programming an
> application!  

If you don't need mathematical formulas in TeX/LaTeX, you don't need to
learn anything about it. For a typical work of fiction, the text will be
99+% text with very little markup.

>              While they are both creative they are two different modes
> of thinking!  While I appreciate that other people find it wonderful for
> their tasks I ask that those people also appreciate that not everyone
> finds the tools they use as equally suited to their tasks, especially
> creative tasks.  Creative tasks are personal.  Processes and tools which
> work for one person do not work for someone else.  And that is OK!

Of course you are free to use whatever seems suitable to you. But don't
take it personal, when people advise you to do otherwise. Most people
using LaTeX (including myself) have experience in both worlds (Office
style and Latex style), yet it seems that all (at least almost all) of
those that took some time learn to practice LaTeX never like to go back
to using office programs.

Back to the main topic: I am using LaTeX with bzr (considering to move
to mercurial) and they work more or less perfectly together. I don't
version graphics files, but for the text files it's become essential for
me to 'colordiff' different versions. I don't think that it is practical
to accomplish the same with either OOo or M$ Office. The latter has some
kind of 'versioning' system, where different authors/revisions get
different colours, but it is nothing like as efficient as Latex together
with a modern CMS.

YMMV, good luck,


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