> On Wed, Mar 23, 2011 at 5:20 PM, Steve Litt <sl...@troubleshooters.com>
> wrote:
>> If I were going to enumerate the good things about
>> LyX, it would be something like this:
>> * It typesets better and more consistently than its non-TeX based
>> competitors.
>> * It deletes unintentional double spaces and double newlines.
>> * It always calculates references, TOC and indices correctly, unlike
>> others.
>> * The black on tan is readable and soothing to the eyes for long workdays.
>> * Its simple native format invites programmatic document creation and
>> editing.
>> * It's free software, which protects your documents from vendor lock-in.
>> * It's an incredibly fast authoring environment.

I completely agree with Steve's points about LyX. In particular, I
think he is right in pointing out that "pure" LyX/LaTeX will almost
never produce a final "production quality" output. And by "production
quality" I mean a document typeset to the typographical standards used
and enforced by good publishing houses. LaTeX will almost get you
there---let's say 90% of the way---while Word/OO do not even try. But
that final 10% requires manual intervention and exact much more pain
than you'll ever encounter in Word/OO or other standard word
processors. I say this from my very recent experience as the co-editor
a 400+ book done with LyX and typeset to publisher's specs.

There are many reasons for this fact. One is font handling, which is
very poor in LaTeX. Things are getting better with LuaTeX/fonttspec,
but the process is still far from straightforward. A second problem is
page breaks, which is certainly not one of LaTeX's strengths "out of
the box." Not only page breaks need to be manually adjusted in the
final draft, getting correct grid-like layout with properly balanced
odd and even page is incredibly difficult, in my experience. A recent
article in TugBoat went into some details on this issue, and the
discussion continued on comp.text.tex. I don't know enough TeX to
really use the experimental algorithms that were proposed both in the
article and in the group, and my sense of the current state of the art
is that a better page-handling algorithm will have to wait for a
LuaTeX-based solution. There are other issues as well, some of which
Steve mentioned. And I am not even getting into the academia-only
problems of correctly typesetting  bibliography styles and index

In short: LyX should not be promoted as the tool that gets you
"camera-ready" "production-quality" pdf files out of the box. It
won't. It will produce"near-production-quality" pdf that will need
quite a bit of tweaking and will require specialized skills in order
to be "perfect." Out of the box, LyX will produce better looking
documents  than your average word processor. In my experience, though,
most Word users do not really care, because what they get from their
word processor is good enough. In a sense, they are right: for
informal communication, a document typeset by Word is often
sufficient. And for formal communication, well, the professionals who
work for publishing houses and/or service bureaus  will take your Word
document and produce a professionally  typeset document with tools
like InDesign, Quark Xpress, etcetera.

(As some have pointed out, this situation may change as personally
produced e-books become a mass phenomenon. In my opinion, though, we
are not even close to that.)

On the other hand, LyX should be promoted, I think, as a more
productive environment. To put it crudely: LyX/LaTeX's weakness
(finessing formats is a royal pain) turns into a strength: you know
you do not want to mess with the format because it is a pain.
Therefore you focus on the content only. Thi sis obviously true for
long, complex documents, as many have pointed out. But it is also true
for shorter documents. I routinely write everything except letters in
LyX, from memos to lecture notes, to notes to myself. to articles,
etc. I am much more productive than I have ever been (and I have used
every single version of MS Word from 1.0/DOS forward, plus various
assorted alternatives).

As for Word/OO<-->LyX interoperability, that seems a chimera. How can
LyX ever be interoperable with Word, when even the LaTeX/LyX roundtrip
will not get you back the document you started from? It seems to me
that a more reasonable goal would be to have a Word-output function
that strips all formatting except the semantically relevant items
(emphasis, etc) and produce a clean Word file ready to be imported
into a typesetting program or to be sent to Word-only people. The
XHTML output filter in LyX 2.0 is almost there, I think.

The biggest hurdle to LyX's acceptance, I think, is that it is almost
impossible to cooperate with people not using it. Writing an article,
or a memo, or a report, grant application, with Word users is not
possible unless the LyX user takes the responsibility of maintaining a
LyX master file and inputting corrections and edits from pdf
annotations, manual edits on hard copys, word snippets, etcetera. This
is what I have done for the last couple of years, and I am getting
tired of it. I think the only way ot this problem is to get more
people to adopt LyX, or to resign oneself to abandon it when
cooperating with others.
If anyone has better suggestions I am all ears!



Reply via email to