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I'm glad there's always LaTeX.

For any serious writing, Microsoft Word is one of the worst pieces of tools out there. It starts showing its ugly side when start using anything remotely advanced.




For any serious writing, Microsoft Word is one of the worst pieces of tools out there

Why? I'm no big fan of Word and doing any sort of layout in Word is painful, but for actual writing I don't see a problem. It has good tools for outlines, TOCs, reviews and comments, tracking changes, footnotes and citations (when combined with EndNote) and just about anything else I've ever needed. Hell the equation editor even lets you use LaTeX if you're into that sort of thing. What makes Word so terrible in your eyes?

And yes I wrote my Masters thesis and most of my other university work in LaTeX, so I know what I'm comparing it to.


A couple of things I've noted over the years:

- Fields, or anything that uses fields: They're completely broken. They only seem to function in straight-forward case. For e.g: it's very easy for sequences to completely go off whack.

- File comparisons: this feature can only tolerate up to a certain number of pages. It will crash and burn for large documents. I sometimes wonder why this is even offered!

- Formatting: No matter how carefully paragraph spacing etc. is controlled there are always instances where things won't work as intended. A good example is cover pages.

- Hanging and freezing on large documents while Word figures out how to render them.

- Font rendering: it's never great. It never looks the same as what it would on a printer (irrespective of the printer). The Mac version does a decent job, but the Windows version, even with ClearType configured, is not great.

- Lastly, my biggest issue: feature incompatibilities between the versions of Word available on Mac and Windows. The Mac version (the latest O365) release doesn't have a lot of advanced features that are available on Windows such as document signing and style breaks.


Word is horrible, but then word-processors are generally a horrible paradigm for anything significant. (They can handle basic things, but they're such a hostile environment for creating text, I don't understand how so many novelists work in them.)


Maybe some people actually like a graphical UI that does not require learning arcane syntax or keyboard shortcuts, provides a passing simile to actual paper and allows them to be productive (if not proficient)?

As for "anything significant", even OP shows one file per chapter. That's very likely what most users of word processors do, I'd imagine, even though Word (for example) had master/child documents support in the late nineties.


No. I get that people think that, but it's a mistaken belief. Word processors are at least as arcane, but they disguise and hide their arcane bits. That is, word processors give an illusion of being easier, but really they end up much more complicated.

Graphical UI? There are dozens of text editors that work with TeX and most of them provide graphical UIs, with menus and buttons similar to a word processor. In fact, as soon you want to do anything evenly mildly 'advanced', word processors end up being visibly more complicated.

In a word processor, I can click the 'bold' button, or press Ctrl-b to switch into 'bold mode', or highlight some text, and use the button/keyboard shortcut to bold that text.

In a TeX editor, I can also click the 'bold' button or press a shortcut to auto-create a LaTeX bold environment `\textbf{}` with my cursor placed in-between the {}s. Alternatively, I can highlight text, e.g 'my text', and click the bold button or press the shortcut and the editor will wrap `\textbf{}' arount the text, producing '\textbf{my text]'.

Up to this point the two approaches are equivalent. But now say that I want to make all instances of 'important phrase' bold. With the TeX/editor approach, it's just like any other search and replace, I tell the editor to replace all instances of 'important phrase' with '\textbf{important phrase}'. In the word processor, I have to figure out how to click into an advanced search-and-replace and choose something about replace/add styles etc.

In LaTeX, for something complicated, I can figure it out and write my function(s) for it, which are easily re-usable. In a word processor, what one 'knows' in the case of doing something complicated is a series of mouse clicks through menus - which is not only more arcane than an explicit function, but is likely to be disrupted by version changes.


The vast majority of users will forever be beginners - they'll learn a few techniques and wont bother with the rest - simply because that's not the only thing they do. For such users, a canned, ready-to-understand UI that looks like paper is pragmatically better than providing the capability to do whatever they want at the cost of becoming a power user in word processing.

People use spaces for tabs and newlines instead of page breaks despite there being solutions for them even on mechanical typewriters. As long as it works for them, that's ok.


Making a full fledged latex document is as easy as making a plain text file with the following content:

\documentclass{article} \begin{document}

Your whole life story goes here.

\end{document}

That's fscking difficult.


The real answer are products like FrameMaker and Oxygen XML.


Those look horrifying.


Only for those doing documents as if we didn't progress.

I was using LaTeX for university reports 20+ years ago.


Yes, being locked into to some rigid, fragile proprietary system is such great progress.

There's a reason that LaTeX was used 20+ years and is still the gold standard: the other options really suck.


DITA and Dockbook are not a fragile proprietary system, quite on the contrary.

There is a reason LaTeX is barely used out of academia.


> There is a reason LaTeX is barely used out of academia.

That's simply untrue. Look at any serious programming books. And LaTeX is used as the back-end for quite a number of text-processing tools.


Those written by academics, published by academic related editors, in old style layouts, black and white.

Professional publishing has long ago switched to DTP tooling, able to handle layouts and colouring in modern presses.


That's not a change. 'Professional' publishing has long used (inferior) DTP solutions.


Where is the LaTeX superior color management solution for typography press?


Great, you've got colour management with lousy type-setting!


Yep,better tell to the professional book editors the big mistake they are making in their high profile printing.


I've used DTP tools before too (though it's been a number of a years), so I'm not unfamiliar with the differences.

To be fair, the use cases are rather different. Regular fiction books are not so complicated in terms of layout. Magazines are generally involve much more complicated layouts - where there are questions of getting colours right, having text wrap, and so on.

But for technical work, it's insane to use anything not TeX-based (e.g. Scribble), even if you don't use TeX directly.


So DITA and Dockbook are other names for FrameMaker and Oxygen XML? No, of course they're not. I don't know why you continue to switch the topic.


They are industry standards for document interchange of books and technical documentation, handled by PageMaker and Oxygen XML, among many others supported by them.




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