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Using open-source tools for documenting research

Using open-source tools for documenting research

Posted Jan 19, 2006 10:15 UTC (Thu) by dambacher (subscriber, #1710)
Parent article: Using open-source tools for documenting research

This is what I experienced on doing my doctors thesis:

latex was superior to all other word processing tools in that it does not fiddle with your layout once you set it up. You just write. No headaches. And if it comes to doing a printed book, you can generate high quality pdf or ps files wich can be imported directly to the (commonly mac-based) printing systems, including propper page sorting!

Openoffice spreadshead graphics was worse for me, unusable. I have to check if versino 2 is better in this. I had to do them using wine/excel and I hated it, because you need special tools to extract the graphics from wmf to eps for high quality printing.


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Using open-source tools for documenting research

Posted Jan 19, 2006 10:45 UTC (Thu) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

And documents pretty much never break. I just re-LaTeXed a document I wrote in 1994. It worked, and it looked the same as it did back then. (This will always be true for the underlying TeX layer, of course, because it's nearly maintenance-dead upstream with an author known as an utter paranoid for identical results no matter what. But even e-TeX produces nearly identical results for nearly all documents.)

Using open-source tools for documenting research

Posted Jan 24, 2006 5:16 UTC (Tue) by roelofs (guest, #2599) [Link]

And documents pretty much never break. I just re-LaTeXed a document I wrote in 1994. It worked, and it looked the same as it did back then.

That was not my experience. LaTeX changed rather massively between 2.09 and 2e; I found I had to make several changes to my dissertation (ca. 1995) to get it to "compile." And it sounds (or sounded, anyway) like 3.0 will/would be an even bigger break. Of course, these days my usage is limited to the occasional one-page letter, so I'm not terribly worried about future compatibility...

Greg

Using open-source tools for documenting research

Posted Jan 25, 2006 16:09 UTC (Wed) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

Yes; 2.09 -> 2e was a large jump, but *2.09 still works*, because it runs atop an unchanging core (TeX). So you can use both at once for different documents. :)

Using open-source tools for documenting research

Posted Jan 25, 2006 16:26 UTC (Wed) by roelofs (guest, #2599) [Link]

Ah, thanks for the clarification.

Of course, from a practical standpoint, that means one needs to compile and install 2.09 first--and web2c before that, most likely--since no distribution of which I'm aware ships both. If you have lots of older documents and need only to do a one-time conversion to PDF (for example), that may be the simplest approach. But in general I'd expect most people would find it easier to modify the document(s). ;-)

Greg

Using open-source tools for documenting research

Posted Jan 26, 2006 14:45 UTC (Thu) by fgrosshans (guest, #35486) [Link]

I think not: Latex2e has a compatibility mode, pretending to be latex 2.09 when it processes documents starting with \documentstyle instead of \documentclass .

Disclaimer: I never tested this functionnality.

Fred

Using open-source tools for documenting research

Posted Jan 26, 2006 19:49 UTC (Thu) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

The compatibility mode isn't terribly capable. It can handle simple documents.


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