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Author Topic: Lyx is the answer  (Read 10624 times)
Armando
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« Reply #25 on: March 16, 2011, 11:39:48 AM »

Aram : I went through approximately the same route a few years ago when I was working on my Ph.D. I got excited about LyX. It lasted only 2-3 days. Got back to Old MS Word 2003 and other tools I badly needed. (I don't have Indesign btw).
« Last Edit: March 16, 2011, 11:57:23 AM by Armando » Logged

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Eóin
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« Reply #26 on: March 16, 2011, 01:08:21 PM »

The thing about writing large technical-ish documents is that it's entirely nonlinear. You're skipping back and forth between chapters, editing, adding bits, removing, etc. That makes it impossible to manage document layout midway. There's no point getting all your page breaks just perfect only to add a large paragraph somewhere and find now every page breaks halfway.

Mind you, this talk of LyX has my intrigued. When version 2.0 is out for Windows I'll definitely be giving it a serious test drive, maybe I'll write a mini-review too, but not till after I'm confident I gave it a fair chance.
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Armando
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« Reply #27 on: March 16, 2011, 01:46:38 PM »

LyX is definitely worth exploring. But as always, it boils down to what exactly you need to do.
E.g.: I needed to closely work with EndNote, and while it was possible to convert my library to libtex etc. it was definitely not a smooth workflow...

Also, the separation of format and content is very nice in theory, but I always found -- to a certain extent -- that format actually helps working with content. That's why we have outliners with outline styles, etc.
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« Reply #28 on: March 16, 2011, 03:03:51 PM »

I agree, Armando.  I've been looking into it a little more and I think I have to stick to Indesign.  I found this quote:
Quote
The learning curve for LaTeX is both deep and broad. In my opinion it's harder to learn than C, C++, Java, Perl and the like. But learn it you must, unless you're willing to accept every LyX default for the document class you've chosen.

I don't want to learn a programming language.  And I have to customize my content, i.e., I'm going to start from scratch.  There's just no way I'm going to use a style that someone else created.  I'm far too picky for that.

So now the question is, what can I do to automate Indesign?  The math stuff is the biggest headache.  All of the tools out there work, but they all have an issue here and there.  And the best one is very expensive, even for me.  It's like $700.  I want to use mathtype, but it has weird, minor issues with placing content into Indesign.  Everything else about it is perfect.
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superboyac
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« Reply #29 on: March 16, 2011, 03:04:57 PM »

Are there any nice gui tools for customizing latex styles?  Does it HAVE to be programmed by hand?  i don't see why someone hasn't done this yet.  It's just a matter of a few parameters.  Fonts, sizes, whitespace...there just isn't that much.  Someone has to have created a tool for it.
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« Reply #30 on: March 16, 2011, 03:11:54 PM »

The chestnut we used back in the old days was that LaTeX was not a WYSIWYG ("What you see is what you get") editor, but a WYSIWYW ("what you see is what you want") editor. And the way you inform TeX what you want is by editing rawtext stylesheets by hand - essentially, exactly what you (the OP, I mean) said when you pointed out that you don't know how to write your own stylesheets in the XML editor under discussion. And if it doesn't give you what you want, you nudge & fiddle with & otherwise coax that code until your output looks right.
To wrap up, let me share with you my current emotional state: when my grandfather told me tales of the Depression, he'd joke "Oh, it was terrible. Abysmal. Worst times of my life. Can't for the life of me figure out why I feel nostalgia when I tell you stories about it." I feel like grampa, right now.
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superboyac
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« Reply #31 on: March 16, 2011, 03:16:22 PM »

Forget it.  Latex is no good.  Indesign all the way.  Now, for the blasted math typography.

Mathtype:
Does everything fine, but the EPS export inside Indesign looks like shit.  All pixelated and barely legible.  prints fine.  Still, I'd like to see what it looks like before printing.  This is on a mac.  I'll have to try on a PC.  Or maybe there's another way to import it into ID.  One thing i don't want to do is import it, and have to still fiddle around with it inside ID.

MathMagic:
haven't tried it, but it's supposed to be the best.  Very expensive...$700 for the professional version needed for Indesign.  it costs more than indesign.  Indesign really needs to add math funcionality to the program.  it's the freaking industry standard, cmon! (Gob).
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timns
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« Reply #32 on: March 16, 2011, 03:35:25 PM »

I agree, Armando.  I've been looking into it a little more and I think I have to stick to Indesign.  I found this quote:
Quote
The learning curve for LaTeX is both deep and broad. In my opinion it's harder to learn than C, C++, Java, Perl and the like. But learn it you must, unless you're willing to accept every LyX default for the document class you've chosen.

And I find this quote... a load of baloney. I have just been getting misty-eyed over some old TeX and LaTeX documents I wrote way back when, it's not hard at all. Maybe the person who wrote that quote has not done much programming.

     \[
        \frac{d}{dx}\left( \int_{0}^{x} f(u)\,du\right)=f(x).
     \]



Does that look so hard? 10 minutes with a tutorial.

« Last Edit: March 16, 2011, 03:37:47 PM by timns » Logged

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« Reply #33 on: March 16, 2011, 03:42:54 PM »

Please... don't "link" me to that quote... smiley LyX is effectively perfect for that type of stuff.
(And I agree : not that complicated. The main matter here IMO isn't "complication" per se but needs and workflow.)
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timns
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« Reply #34 on: March 16, 2011, 03:55:22 PM »

Please... don't "link" me to that quote... smiley LyX is effectively perfect for that type of stuff.
(And I agree : not that complicated. The main matter here IMO isn't "complication" per se but needs and workflow.)

Nevah! I had a feeling it was a quote from someone with quite limited experience  smiley
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Eóin
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« Reply #35 on: March 16, 2011, 04:12:37 PM »

timns, writing LaTeX content is pretty darn simple, that is the point of it after all. But writing your own style files is difficult, the underlying descriptive language, TeX, is a fully fledged programming language. That said, most style files out there expose tonnes of variables so you can tweak their look easily, but if you want to start from scratch you're in for a lot of work.

For fun, look at pages 8+ of An Acronym Environment for LATEX2ε. The files is the manual to the Acronym package and the pages I mentioned go through the code involved. It truly all looks like gobbledegoop to me.
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timns
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« Reply #36 on: March 16, 2011, 04:22:37 PM »

It's like a lot of rewarding things - you can't just dip your toe in, so yes I agree it's got a learning curve. Maybe it's just that I'm wired in the right way - I got on with TeX and LaTeX very well. To my eye it's a lot easier to comprehend than, say, perl.

I suppose the main question is just how much does one really need to fart around with those style files. 90% of the time, those predefined styles are going to work just fine. I do feel there's quite a lot of customize for customization's sake going on.
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superboyac
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« Reply #37 on: March 16, 2011, 04:36:44 PM »

I suppose the main question is just how much does one really need to fart around with those style files. 90% of the time, those predefined styles are going to work just fine. I do feel there's quite a lot of customize for customization's sake going on.
I think I'm not being clear.  I'm not really disagreeing with you guys.  If I didn't want to create my own styles, latex and lyx are perfectly easy to use, and I'd LOVE to use it specifically because of the math abilities.

My issue is that I REQUIRE the ability to create styles from scratch.  If you tell me:
Quote
I do feel there's quite a lot of customize for customization's sake going on.
I don't think that's fair to me, because it's like you are telling me how I should do my work.  I understand that the default styles are adequate in most cases.  I'm telling you, it's not adequate for mine.  So my issue is, how can I create my own styles without getting bogged down with programming?  I'm not going to want to use any languages.  i want buttons, previews, dialogs, drop downs.  If not...I'll just stick to Indesign.

So if there is no tool out there that can create customize latex styles from scratch with a gui, i am not interested.
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timns
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« Reply #38 on: March 16, 2011, 04:41:53 PM »

Oh don't get me wrong - I was making a general statement about folks tinkering with layouts and styles and peppering it with my own personal opinion that different != better in many cases.

Of course not everyone is a programmer, nor has the time or inclination to create nice styles. But it may be that if you are able to exemplify exactly what you needed, some kind soul would step up to the plate and help you. Either here or on the Lyx site.

Or are you saying that you need a different style every time?
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JavaJones
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« Reply #39 on: March 16, 2011, 04:45:54 PM »

Given your styling needs I think the only clear solution is InDesign, maybe in combination with InCopy. And since you already have it and evidently know how to use it, it's even more compelling. What exactly about it do you want improved for your needs?

- Oshyan
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Edvard
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« Reply #40 on: March 16, 2011, 05:42:10 PM »

He doesn't like the math rendering.
Obviously InDesign doesn't do formula editingw well.

I was wondering if perhaps there were an InDesign plugin to allow Latex-style formula editing and a quick search came up with this:
MathMagic Pro for InDesign
http://www.mathmagic.com/product/prowin.html

Holy crow it's 500 bucks!!  ohmy
NVM...

Listen, Eóin is right when he said Latex was primarily invented for folks who write large bodies of documentation, voluminous research papers, etc. where you can't be bothered with things like 'what style did I apply on page 4,215 because I need it for 3 pages out of chapter 172.05' kind of stuff.
In fact it's BRILLIANT for things like that, but it could simply be the wrong tool for what you want and the kind of content you are producing.

In keeping in the spirit of this site, let's think of the problem in Programmer's terms.
These are admittedly not exactly accurate, but just for illustration's sake:

Your writing = code.
Latex = compiler.
Classes = language rules (java, C, fortran, etc.).
Lyx = IDE.

Would you agree that code for a simple application is much easier to write than the compiler and language definitions that make it into a nice pretty executable?
Therein lies the rub.

Aram, my advice to you is to either stick with InDesign because you already know it and presumably can work around it's shortcomings, or set aside a day to sit down with Lyx and chew through the tutorials and documentation.
Not opinions, not others' experiences, just you alone coming to terms with what it can and can't do for you and your writing.
I sincerely believe all your questions will be answered there and either you'll come to a blinding realization that it's all painfully true and Lyx will never do or be what you need, or you'll discover some elusive secret that actually proves it to be so much easier than everybody here makes it out to be.

May the force be with you... tongue
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Curt
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« Reply #41 on: March 16, 2011, 07:16:10 PM »

Given your styling needs I think the only clear solution is InDesign, maybe in combination with InCopy. And since you already have it and evidently know how to use it, it's even more compelling.

Thanks for telling. It was really interesting to read about InCopy, I had never heard about it before (obviously because of the price tag)!
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« Reply #42 on: March 16, 2011, 09:41:59 PM »

At the risk of provoking a burst of laughter, the way my company used to handle mathematical formulas was to use a high-end math symbol Postscript font and create all the formulas using Adobe Illustrator. We selected a drawing app in order to get extremely fine control over symbol placement, scaling, and positioning.

My former business partner was a typography expert that didn't believe in automating certain things when it came to characters or symbols. mrgreen His approach was to treat mathematical formulas as pictures rather than as text since they would never change once they were created.

After a formula was created, it was saved as a (scalable vector format) illustration so that it could be dropped in and re-sized as and where needed. This was a major up-front pain to do. But once the formula "art" was created (and proofed/approved) it was very easy to catalog for future reuse.

We did a 1200-page technical manual for a Fortune 10 company where we built a library of about 200 formulas. This came in handy down the road when we were contracted to produce some additional manuals.

Having a library of the requisite formulas allowed us to hold down our costs and shorten our delivery times such that we beat out several larger competitors for future editions of this manual. We had a major advantage because we didn't have to redo - or proof - hundreds of  formulas we didn't actually understand. And because the formulas were art - there was no danger of a typo error creeping in once we had done the initial proofing.

Maybe not the most elegant or 'techy' way to do it. But our approach worked quite well, both for the initial project and its revisions.

 Cool

« Last Edit: March 16, 2011, 09:47:05 PM by 40hz » Logged

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JavaJones
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« Reply #43 on: March 16, 2011, 09:50:49 PM »

40hz, something very much like that occurred to me in considering this issue. If we knew more about the original project requirements here I think it would help determine the best approach though.

- Oshyan
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40hz
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« Reply #44 on: March 16, 2011, 09:59:55 PM »

40hz, something very much like that occurred to me in considering this issue.

Doesn't surprise me. It's a fairly logical way to do it once you think about it. I make no claim for originality. Grin

Quote
If we knew more about the original project requirements here I think it would help determine the best approach though.

- Oshyan

I think Aram mentioned what he was doing in a previous thread. He's creating study review guides to help people prepare for a professional licensing exam.

 smiley

« Last Edit: March 16, 2011, 10:03:11 PM by 40hz » Logged

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JavaJones
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« Reply #45 on: March 16, 2011, 11:42:29 PM »

Quote
If we knew more about the original project requirements here I think it would help determine the best approach though.

- Oshyan

I think Aram mentioned what he was doing in a previous thread. He's creating study review guides to help people prepare for a professional licensing exam.

 smiley

Ah, must have missed that. Still, professional *what*? Why the math equations? How much are they used?

- Oshyan
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superboyac
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« Reply #46 on: March 16, 2011, 11:45:47 PM »

Actually, 40, had I not suggested mathtype to my partner, he was going to do it just as you said: creating the vector art directly in the program (Indesign, not Illustrator, although he was doing it there also).
Your way is logical, and also just cool.  I actually wouldn't mind doing it (I'm very particular about how to present math solutions properly).  But in our case, it's clearly not a good use of time and resources.  You're more like my partner in this stuff, he enjoys the personal touch in all of this.  

When I used to design more in my early career, I was very proud of my CAD toolbox of symbols I had made.  Very similar to this.  Like math, these are all common engineering symbols, but I liked how I had done everything just the way I like it.  The proportions, the spacing, the snap points, etc.  I felt like I had designed my own font.

Yeah, but for this project, I'd like to automate it as much as possible.  I already save all my calculations using the fantastic SpaceTime program on the ipad and Windows.  So after we publish the books in a couple of weeks, I'm going to go back and try to fine tune all the content as far as automation, consistency, styling, database, all that stuff.  This is part of that effort.  We're already done writing everything, so I don't NEED it.  SO I want to take it to the next level and find a more optimum method.  This is what I waste my time with.  I'm sure my partner will think it's a little over the top.  But this is what I do.
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« Reply #47 on: March 16, 2011, 11:47:07 PM »

Quote
If we knew more about the original project requirements here I think it would help determine the best approach though.

- Oshyan

I think Aram mentioned what he was doing in a previous thread. He's creating study review guides to help people prepare for a professional licensing exam.

 smiley

Ah, must have missed that. Still, professional *what*? Why the math equations? How much are they used?

- Oshyan
Please.  I'll explain it all in a couple of weeks.  Let me finish it up first.  But...in the meantime...the whole thing is chock full of math.
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« Reply #48 on: March 17, 2011, 12:02:03 AM »

Roger. Sounds like at this point it's more of a "how to tackle the revision/next project" type of consideration anyway, so best to wait for completion of the current to fully consider and test.

- Oshyan
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superboyac
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« Reply #49 on: March 17, 2011, 08:42:17 AM »

Roger. Sounds like at this point it's more of a "how to tackle the revision/next project" type of consideration anyway, so best to wait for completion of the current to fully consider and test.

- Oshyan
Yeah.  It was much too manual for my tastes, but my partner didn't mind.  I just need to know if there's a better way.
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