Date: Sun, 05 May 2002 14:17:00 +0200

Author: Urs Lauterburg

Subject: Re: Software for Creating Lab Manuals

Post:

George,

For all my not hand written writing I use a very nice TeX/LaTeX
implementation which combines the source code generation in the traditional
TeX/LaTeX syntax and a very nice viewer, where you see what you are doing
online. Some of the numerous Word users around me laugh at my rather
archaic arrangement and they view me as a hopeless case of an utopian and
unrealistic idealist when I tell them with a certain pride that my
Macintosh computers run all 100% Microsoft free. On the other hand they are
always quite astonished at the overall astehtic quality of my layouts and
the control I have over every little detail.

As usual there are many ways to do the same, some are more rational with a
shortcut quality and others are twisted and bent even if they looked like
the most direct way in the very beginning. What I have found though from my
own experience, that the most effective tools are the ones that fit your
own personal needs and notions and not the ones of some clever marketing
division of a huge cooperation stating some phony arguments about having to
stay compatible with everyone else in the world of words.

Even with no single piece of MS-software present, I don't seem to suffer
from any incompatibilities. In contrary, sometimes friends who work on PCs
would ask me to convert some of their files to an other PC-format to
prevent them from having to pay for yet another update of some sort.
Additionally none of my Macs have suffered from any Virus and Worm attack,
which often hook to MS software, making this stuff look like a huge,
gigantic virus if viewed from the outside world.

So to come back to the subject of different word processor philosophies,
MS-Word is certainly the most common one and it certainly offers a vast
number of little buttons to press. Framemaker, Illustrator and Quark
Express are the tools professional graphic artists use for professional and
commercial layouts of printed material, they all originate from the
Macintosh platform and most professionals still use them on the
''creative'' machines. TeX/LaTeX is widely used by professional publishers
and authors of scientific and academic research publications with lots of
math.

Myself I really love to work with a commercial TeX/LaTeX environment called
Textures. You can see what it's all about at:

http://www.bluesky.com

Regards and happy writing

Urs

Urs Lauterburg
Physics demonstrator
LabVIEW wireworker
University of Bern
Switzerland

>I am using MS Word to create lab manuals, which are often more than
>80 pages. It cannot do some of the things I want it to do (e.g. put the
>footer where I want it
>on a page in landscape mode). Several times I have been told that Word is
>not
>good for big documents like these -- especially when they have diagrams in
>them.
>Have you all used other software? Framemaker? Quark Expires? etc.
>Also, have you all tried LaTex?


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