4.0016 Scientific Wordprocessing (87)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Wed, 9 May 90 17:21:20 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 4, No. 0016. Wednesday, 9 May 1990.

(1) Date: Tue, 08 May 90 15:10:55 -0700 (30 lines)
From: ruhleder@sloth.ICS.UCI.EDU
Subject: TeX and LaTeX

(2) Date: Tue, 08 May 90 18:40:14 EDT (18 lines)
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: scientific wordprocessing

(3) Date: Wed, 9 May 90 11:13:58 MDT (39 lines)
From: koontz@alpha.bldr.nist.gov (John E. Koontz)
Subject: Scientific word processing [eds]

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Tue, 08 May 90 15:10:55 -0700
From: ruhleder@sloth.ICS.UCI.EDU
Subject: TeX and LaTeX

TeX is a typesetter's dream: described in the preface to ``The TeXbook''
(by Donald E. Knuth, one of the founders of computer science) as ``... a
new typesetting system intended for the creation of beautiful books---
and especially for books th contain a lot of mathematics.'' It is
DEFINITELY not WYSIWYG, but it truly will transform your manuscript into
``pages whose typographic quality is comparable to that of the world's
finest printer.''

The catch: it's not easy to learn, especially if you are trying to
produce very intricate documents. And forget graphics, unless you
want to torture yourself further by learning ``pic'' or you can afford
a Sun Workstation with suntools (ie. picturetool).

The alternative: LaTeX (billed as ``A Document Preparation System''
with a manual by Leslie Lamport of DEC) is a special version of TeX
which adds a collection of simplified commands. This is what I
have used to prepare formulas for statistics classes, and it does a
good job. I also use it for all my writing.

Note: I don't know what kind of equipment you need; I do know that
there is a program on the Mac called ``textures'' that I believe
converts from ``TeX'' to whatever is on the Mac and back.

Karen Ruhleder

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------28----
Date: Tue, 08 May 90 18:40:14 EDT
From: Willard McCarty <MCCARTY@vm.epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: scientific wordprocessing

A friend of mine, a mathematically inclined historian of science,
has worked through just about every wordprocessing package suitable
for equations. Despite his general dislike of WordPerfect, he now
regards it as the best such package. What he has shown me looked
impressive indeed.

T-cubed I discovered years ago. It was originally developed in the
UCSD p-system and ever after has dragged some of the features it was
given then from version to new version. It seemed to me, when I knew it,
a brilliant tour de force but unfortunately saddled with these old
features, inappropriate in a DOS environment, such as it own internal
file structure. Sorry I cannot remember more.

Willard McCarty
(3) --------------------------------------------------------------52----
Date: Wed, 9 May 90 11:13:58 MDT
From: koontz@alpha.bldr.nist.gov (John E. Koontz)
Subject: Re: 4.0009 Software: Scientific word processing; Bibliography

TeX is not properly a word processor - it is a markup system; you supply
the text editor. In most cases, when someone says TeX they actually
mean TeX + LaTeX. TeX is a fairly low level system. LaTeX is a "macro
package" that implements a high level scheme of markup. I think that
TeX/LaTeX with a laser printer produce about the best-looking output of
the various scientific word processing tools for the PC that I have
seen. In fact, the results are publishable as is.

There are numerous versions of TeX for various operating systems. Some
DOS versions are freeware.

T3 is a WYSIalmostWYG word processor. I believe that the latest version
has some tools for importing and/or exporting LaTeX - I forget which. I
have had some limited experience with the previous edition, and thought
that everything was fairly nicely done, except for two problems. First,
the editing interactions (cursor movement, insertion, etc.) were quite
awkward, particularly in the default typeover mode. They reminded me of
WordMARC, an early DOS word processor. The standard set by WordPerfect,
MS Word, and XyWrite/Note Bene, etc., makes this approach seem rather
clunky. Second, the design of the system was very DOS-independent. T3
does its own subdirectories (packing several "documents" into one DOS
file) and generally behaves as if you still had DOS 2.0. On the other
hand, the system of function keys and menus was pretty nice, better than
Nota Bene as far as the menus, at least, and the manual was well done.
The setup for using and creating exotic fonts and keyboards for keying
them in is just plain good.

Before deciding on T3 try to get some literature and ask them to supply
you with the name of someone nearby, e.g., at your University, who might
be willing to demonstrate their copy.