Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login

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.


That's fscking difficult.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact