[OS X TeX] Macintouch report on TeX versus Word

Alain Schremmer schremmer.alain at gmail.com
Fri Jan 23 02:46:24 CET 2009

On Jan 22, 2009, at 5:28 PM, David Derbes wrote:

> On Jan 22, 2009, at 3:03 PM, Alain Schremmer wrote:
>>  The LaTeX club is also an open door club. In fact, the club makes  
>> every efforts to help others who have joined the club.

> In fact I am extremely keen to expand the club. I show my students  
> how to use LaTeX, my handouts are all in LaTeX (and the kids can  
> have the source if they like), I try to convince my colleagues  
> (especially in math), and I offer any help they ask for.

And, as I said above, the club has been extremely helpful for people  
such as myself. That still leaves it as a club.

> I think two things prevent a wider use of LaTeX. First, the  
> commands are scary looking at first. Then, it actually takes a  
> while to type things out; it's understandable that people would  
> rather grab from a palette the square root sign than type \sqrt{ }.  
> Seven keystrokes versus a mouse click. I'm willing to spend the  
> time to type the commands and to learn at least some of the  
> intricacies (though heaven knows there's an awful lot I know  
> nothing about, and may never learn), but clearly not everyone is.  
> [I understand that there are front ends and utilities -- e.g., TeX  
> FoG -- that reduce the typing to a mouse click.]

I agree and I must confess that I have TeXFoG and TeXTable in my dock  
but hardly ever use them. Force of habit, I guess.

> LaTeX was written by people of a mathematical mindset for the use  
> of that same group. Not everyone belongs to this group.

And yet, what proves the incredible strength of Knuth' and Lamport's  
insights is that many others, such as linguists, now use it. But, if  
the club has vastly expanded, a club it remains as seen by the fact  
that there are "dues" in that you have to invest a lot of time before  
you can get acceptable returns.
> On the other hand, the talented team at Apple have been able to  
> tame Unix, far more arcane in my experience, to the average  
> person's ability to use it. Maybe in the not too distant future  
> Apple or the Ubuntu guys or whoever will similarly tame LaTeX, so  
> that its user interface is as friendly as Word or WordPerfect or  
> Pages, but its beating heart and engine will still be good ol'  
> industrial strength LaTeX.

Here I am entirely with you. It is in fact something along these very  
lines that I was vaguely imagining. Earlier, I asked what was  
happening with LyX but there does not seem to have been much  
response. Interestingly, when I first started with LaTeX, I did try  
LyX and didn't like it for no really good reason. And since …
> For the record, I doubt I would have tackled LaTeX without Dick  
> Koch's (and others') TeXShop.

… what got me started on LaTeX was, without any doubt whatsoever,  
TeXShop and Wierda's i-installer of TeTeX, here again I agree totally  
with you.


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