Quick OT Doc Authoring/Equation Editting Question

I'm migrating my design and implementation notes away from plain text files, and I'm trying to decide between (1) HTML/MathML/FireMath (certainly some advantages for novel arrangement of documents as well as putting docs online) or (2) OpenOffice/EquationEditor (with other advantages,like nice TOC/Index/footnote generation) to which migrate my documents.

To clarify further, I imagine many/most folks on LtU are TeX folk.... BUT I used to be an old troff guy back in the day and never learned much about using TeX.

I've coming to the conclusion that mastering yet another markup language (especially using it "raw" with just an editor) 1) at my age and 2) given no academic or publisher TeX-demanding destination for my documents - TeX is likely not the way to go for me right now.

Anywho, I was just wondering if any LtU folk can recommend either of the above mentioned tool sets (over the other) for laying out set notation, lambda notation, logical quantifiers, brackets, and the other normal cruft found in language design/implementation style docs.

If there are other relatively short learning curve tool options I've neglected to consider, I'd love to know that too.

As always, many sincere thanks in advance.


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You need to know really well where you want your notes to go

Personal use, public use, online viewable? I have tinkered with a lot of tools and the only few tools I use now are blogger (just that I also have a log) and TeX (since nothing else will do it).

From what I gather, best thing for you would be to go to a Wiki which supports ReST documentation and possibly TeX like markup. Or a ReST documentation producer. But I don't know if it's easy to start a Wiki, for the latter solution you can find loads of implementations.

I stick to TeX, blogger, and Google Apps for now, since, well TeX does it, and at some point, I expect blogger/Google Apps to just pick up with other tools. Even if it would be by just cutting and pasting HTML/MathML.

BTW: You might try DocBook which was just posted on Slashdot (http://books.slashdot.org/story/10/08/18/1314257/DocBook-5). But it has a steep learning/using curve, and it seems there just still isn't a good editor for it. But, haven't tried it in years.


I use TeXmacs extensively. TeXmacs rulez! The web page is outdated, mailing lists is a good source of up-to-date information (bugs etc.):

Lightweight Markups

If your input is plain text maybe you should look at using a lightweight markup language, not so much to change.

My personal preference is Asciidoc which creates docbook and that can be converted to anything but there are others eg ReST as marco suggests..

Some other editors

MathType is a commercial product which integrates into software like Pages or Word and recently added support for LaTeX markup. So you can mix and match different syntaxes with point&click equation editing. In this regard it's comparable to the Open Office equation editor which I quite like (if you're already comfortable with it's syntax you might as well check out LaTeX which is not totally dissimilar but has a lot more options (i.e. packages with symbols or for typesetting commuting diagrams and such) and also free equation editors).

MathCast on the other hand is open source and supports MathML (which some say is the future although I doubt this as I still have to install special fonts to view even the more simple equations and then they don't look remotely as nice as those typeset in TeX with a bit of fiddling):

That being said: If I were you I'd reconsider LaTeX using a good editor with extensive template support so you'd basically have the feeling of using a word processor while you get all the power and beauty of TeX. The longer/shallower learning curve in some respects will reward you with unrivaled speed in entering equations and graphics.

Recognizes Handwritten Math?

Now, if that would only work well, that would have solved myriads of typesetting (La)Tex headaches over the years.

Maybe the future of Scientific articles is actual handwritten papers again? ;)

I'll definitely take a peek

I'll definitely take a peek at MathCast.

Thanks all. Capitulating to TeX prowess, I've installed Lyx and will give it a whirl. Any other Lyx users with pointers/pros/cons? Again, I'm not too interested in investing any time resources in the documentation tool set - so on first glitch, I'll revert to another option. Fingers crossed.

I recalled being interested in DocBook about 10 years ago - yup, still nary a decent (free) editor, although it seems to have become popular. Pity.


Just a note. So far, LyX

Just a note. So far, LyX look very nice. I wish there were complete documentation on all of the document templates, though. Maybe there is - I'm still looking.

I have noted one problem: the filter chain to get to a PDF document somehow produces somewhat unclear fonts. I've also noticed this frequently when downloading many barely readable CiteSeer PDF documents, where I end up downloading the PostScript .ps files instead and reading them in GhostScript.

As always, any guidance or clarifying points appreciated.


PDF from LyX

Make sure you use pdflatex to generate PDFs as this supports all features (like hyperlinks, embedded media (useful for presentations if applicable), and single pages in landscape mode (for tables, big diagrams and such)), leaves you with the best quality, and above all it's only one command to run each time you preview (unless you add references or bibliography entries and need to re-run makeindex and bibtex).

The complete set of commands to generate PDFs with and index and bibliography in LaTeX:

pdflatex --draft-mode --shell-escape foo.tex
bibtex foo
makeindex foo
pdflatex --shell-escape foo.tex

Normally you don't need the --shell-escape option, but it's needed if you want to run gnuplot or some other program from inside your LaTeX source files.