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Do any of you technical types still use a word processor on a regular basis (apart from to read documents others have sent)?

I just can't remember the last time I created a document in one.

If I want to communicate, a plain text email is fine.

Want to collaborate on a document? Wiki or git versioned text file is better.

Want to publish something for others? Wordpress or straight HTML is better.

Want to make a posh looking document? LaTeX generated PDF is better.

I was tasked to fill out an employee self review form (after being with this company for 2 years now) and I was sent a word document. I have always used google docs to view / manage documents (I'd guess I have a new document in my life once every 2 weeks?) and so I figured that's what everyone does. Turns out even at the company I work (an internet company) most people have word and use it. I'd always assumed that google docs have long replaced the desktop word processing needs for most. I guess we tech people live in some sort of word-less utopia.

Want to collaborate on a document?

Want to make a posh looking document?

I'd like to live in this world of yours, where everybody is comfortable with Wiki, git, and even LaTeX.

Seriously, even most technical types cry out in dismay when they try LaTeX.

If you install pandoc [1] you can write in Markdown (or any of a number of formats) and publish in LaTeX, PDF, RTF, HTML etc.

It's the bee's knees.

(You may want to tweak the default template (some examples are linked at [2]) to improve the default LaTeX rendering.)

[1] http://johnmacfarlane.net/pandoc/ [2] https://github.com/jgm/pandoc/wiki/Pandoc-Extras

LaTeX is one of those things somebody helps you with. Check any professor's book and there will be a dedication to the guy who helped them put it all into proper LaTeX.

This is only true of very senior faculty these days, at least in Econ, Statistics, Math, etc.

have you even tried lyx? http://www.lyx.org/

I wouldn't say I use one on a regular basis, but they do have their uses. For a longer document, things like footnotes, internal cross-references, and an auto-generated table of contents are pretty darn handy. For something like a book, add endnotes and an auto-generated index. These things are painful to do in raw HTML/Markdown/whatever. No LaTeX editor I've ever used, and I've used several including Lyx, is much better. They get a little better with something like a WYSIWYG HTML editor, but that's really a word processor too. It's just a lame one, hobbled by the lack of abstraction between the interface and the output format. Really, word processors do this job better than the alternatives because it's what they were designed for.

BTW yes, it is possible to write longer-form documents like this while remaining technical. Junior folks can focus 100% on code. More senior folks still code but also get asked to teach and explain stuff, and after teaching or explaining the same stuff a dozen times putting it in writing starts to seem like an excellent idea.

I sometimes want to make a "posh looking document" on a WYSIWYG environment. If the content is only text, and maybe a few images, I use LibreOffice rather than start LaTeX; there's also less overhead to start writing the text.

(Also, LaTeX is rather annoying if you are writing in a language with widespread use of tildes or some other symbols)

I used to use Word daily when I was in college, but since graduating, it's an usual week if I open an Office app more than once a week. I've switched 100% to iWord for the times I need Office stuff, but 99.9% of the time, a plain text editor is all I need.

You live in a bubble. Word is legion.

Step in to any law office, for example.

I use Apple's Pages when something needs to look pretty. The thing creates wonderful pdf's. They make angels weep tears of joy.

Of course as soon as you need to include a formula somewhere, LaTeX is pretty much your only option.

Oh and because I'm lazy I use wordpress's editor to make a blogpost nearly every day. It's clunky and I would prefer markdown, but the annoyance of switching to a markdown-enabled blogging platform is just too much.

Of course as soon as you need to include a formula somewhere, LaTeX is pretty much your only option.


I used LaTeXiT for some time when I used Keynote for presentations.

If your formulas are not very complex, use Apple's Grapher.app (in /Application/Utilities/ folder). Write your formula there, command-c it and paste it in the Pages document :)

re Wordpress and Markdown: I've been use 'Markdown on Save Improved' for a while now. Works nicely for me.


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