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MS Word 2010 Takes On TeX

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the math-journals-won't-be-switching-anytime-soon dept.

Education 674

alphabetsoup writes "Office 2010 Technology preview was leaked a few days back. With its leak, a feature which was rumored to be present can now be confirmed. Office 2010 finally adds support for Advanced Typographic features (ligatures, number forms, alternates, etc.) of OpenType, allowing one to create documents so far possible only in TeX or InDesign. Between this, the new equation editor and styles, what are the chances of Word replacing LaTeX as the editor of choice in academia?"

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674 comments

Low (5, Insightful)

bcmm (768152) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013027)

Something usually free is already widely used.

Re:Low (4, Informative)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013187)

Except for the fact that MS Word is more widely used than TeX...hell, most people who use TeX probably have word as well (Show me a university that doesn't provide a new copy to every single faculty)

Re:Low (5, Informative)

Alinabi (464689) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013489)

Except for the fact that MS Word is more widely used than TeX

Not for professional, publication quality work.

most people who use TeX probably have word as well (Show me a university that doesn't provide a new copy to every single faculty)

I am not aware of MS word for Linux, which is the OS of choice, at least in science departments. Plus, unless they also improved the equation editor since whatever version shipped with Vista, that thing is not worth its weight in toilet paper (good luck drawing a commutative diagram with it, for example). At the rate MS is improving it has at least 25 years to go before it catches up with TeX.

Re:Low (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013741)

Do you have any evidence to back that claim that Linux is used more in science departments? Of course not, because you're just a worthless Linux zealot fanboy.

Re:Low (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013211)

Is LaTeX 3 out yet? Lack of support for hyperlinks is annoying.

The summary is a bit off, with the question about Word replacing LaTeX as the editor of choice. LaTeX is a document markup language (plus more), not a text editor. You can currently use Scientific Word as your text editor if you want, and have it write LaTeX files that can be read by Tex (typesetter).

So my question is:

By "support", does this mean Word is trying to supplant Tex as the dominant typesetter in academia? Or does this support just mean that Scientific Word (as a text editor) will be able to use more of the options available in LaTex, and will still be able to write LaTeX files?

Re:Low (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013265)

Is LaTeX 3 out yet? Lack of support for hyperlinks is annoying.

What do you mean by 'support'? The hyperref package has been available for years and gives \url and \href commands for clickable URLs and links, and automatically turns all \ref commands into clickable internal links. It also turns the table of contents into PDF metadata so you get a nice ToC in the side bar on any PDF viewer that supports bookmarks.

Re:Low (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013585)

But god help you if you try to use both packages together.

And the bibliography styles tend to work with one or the other, but not both.

Re:Low (4, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013791)

What do you mean both packages? Both hyperref and hyperref? I only mentioned one package, or are you using RIAA maths, where a package that does two things counts as two packages?

Re:Low (5, Insightful)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013617)

LaTeX is not an editor

Word is not a document publishing system

If I want to write an academic paper to be published LaTeX is my first choice but Word would not be my second, a proper document layout and publishing system would be

If I want to write a help document, letter, or similar Word/OpenOffice would be my first choice (if on Windows)

Different tools for different problems - not a one tool for everything

Word is a very bad text editor, a quite good document editor (my opinion), and a very bad document layout system, use it for what it is good for ....

I'll bid this (5, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013345)

I'd say the odds of MS Word replacing LaTeX are about the same as Microsoft releasing the source to Word so we can fix problems and add features as we need them.

A lot of these open source projects grew out of a direct need. There was a vacuum to be filled. The need shaped what the product wound up being. Trying to pound the square peg of MS Word into the round hole LaTeX fills is most likely impossible.

Support or not, they're just too different.

Re:I'll bid this (5, Funny)

robot_love (1089921) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013481)

Trying to pound the square peg of MS Word into the round hole LaTeX fills is most likely impossible.

Did this sound naughty to anyone else?

Re:I'll bid this (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013679)

I'd say the odds of MS Word replacing LaTeX are about the same as Microsoft releasing the source to Word so we can fix problems and add features as we need them.

I'm not sure how it is in other industries, but many IEEE conferences and journals accept LaTeX, pdf, or a doc file (they provide a template).

As a result, nobody in my school department ever tried to figure out how to use LaTeX (well, I did, but that's because I'm already a geek who has no problem with the learning curve and would rather just have a better tool). I'm not saying this is the norm even in other EE departments, and I know LaTeX is by far the default in academia. However, I'm pointing out that the switch has begun before microsoft even bothered offering those features.

Re:Low (5, Insightful)

nitroamos (261075) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013465)

Something usually free is already widely used.

remember that Linux came along as a free alternative to challenge the established OS, with mixed success. now, we have a non-free alternative coming along to challenge Latex (e.g. TexShop). Somehow it seems the odds of success are marginal.

Here's what Tex/Latex have going for them, as viewed by a grad student currently writing his thesis, like myself:
  * Knuth designed Tex to be more than just words on paper, he designed formulas to help make your documents beautiful. I think he's getting it right, which is why his version numbers are converging to pi.

* Part of the reason is that Latex is not just about formulas. It's also about styles, lists, bibliography, cross referencing within your doc, etc, which WYSIWYG has not been able to get right so far, and for the needs of power-users, I suspect it never will. I use both, and I still struggle to get Word lists to do what I want.

* User experience. Now that I've spent time on the Tex learning curve, and I can typically get it to do what I want, why would I want to get on another learning curve?

* Free. With software like TexShop, I already have all I want, in a great package.

Re:Low (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013495)

But if it's free and takes a week to add 10 equations and format images and tweak layout, when paying $50 (academic version) you can do it in under 5 minutes, and display it on a projector for your aides to review, mark up, change on the fly and print it. Well, you do the risk-reward calculation.

Never... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013033)

... at least as long as its justified text is as horrible as it is now.

Not only that (4, Informative)

einhverfr (238914) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013243)

but one of the real glories of TeX is the ability to separate content from presentation. A closer example would be if HTML + CSS could handle all these things.

With LaTeX I can take articles written in basic LaTeX and style them to a specific theme or format for a book or journal. Word strikes me as much harder to do this with. It might be possible to do this with Word but there seems to be too much temptation to paint a document.

Re:Not only that (5, Informative)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013461)

This is kind of funny, because I often explain Word to techies as being much more like HTML/CSS than it appears at first. Every paragraph is like a >p< tag. A style is like a CSS style. It actually makes a lot more sense when you think about it this way.

It also doesn't hurt that Office 2007 makes dealing with styles a lot easier than it used to be, and offers a lot of different automatic themes that look pretty good. So long as you use the standard styles (Heading 1, 2, 3, etc.), you can immediately re-theme a document without much effort. It's really pretty cool.

Re:Not only that (4, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013695)

Right. The difference being that Word doesn't always truly separate content from presentation, nor does it enforce any separation of content from presentation.

IOW, TeX is like making a webpage using HTML 4 strict with a text editor, and Word is like making a webpage in Microsoft FrontPage.

Re:Never... (4, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013309)

To clarify: Is it now using Knuth's nice optimal line breaking algorithm with nice hyphenation (sorry, I can't remember who came up with that algorithm) or is it still using a greedy strategy? And, more importantly, does it nicely support semantic markup and allow the user to extend the semantic definitions? Does it nicely typeset source code and algorithm descriptions? Does it support the standard AMS syntax for equations (even OpenOffice has done that for years)?

Word replace Tex (1)

rjune (123157) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013041)

Absolutely none!

Re:Word replace Tex (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013167)

"Absolutely one!"

Fixed that for ya. The odds of something occurring, when that something has already occurred, is exactly one.

If it works... (4, Insightful)

frinkster (149158) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013043)

If Word 2010 does this extremely well, perhaps they deserve to become the editor of choice.

How well does OpenOffice.org do this?

Tex works ... (2, Interesting)

rs232 (849320) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013459)

"If Word 2010 does this extremely well, perhaps they deserve to become the editor of choice. How well does OpenOffice.org do this?"

I wouldn't use either for book size projects, that's what TeX [miktex.org] is for.

Re:If it works... (1)

nine-times (778537) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013599)

Whether it works isn't the only consideration. You also have to look into how it works, and what it means for the workflow of the people who use these tools. Will it be more or less work for the people who use TeX extensively? Given the changes in workflow and any performance issues, will it take more time for people to complete a task, or less?

Biology (4, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013049)

In biology, Word is already the document editor of choice. And Excel is the charting software of choice. It's really quite a pain.

Earth Science too (partly) (3, Insightful)

hcpxvi (773888) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013159)

In earth science one gets the whole culture clash between the hard-core physics/computer types who like LaTeX and the biologist/ecologist types who like Word. I get a little depressed by the extent to which Word seems to be replacing LaTeX, especially given how much less nice the final result looks. If MS can really improve the typesetting then the "Not a chance" posts above are likely to prove wrong once Word 2010 becomes prevalent.

Re:Biology (5, Informative)

synthespian (563437) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013291)

Out of sheer ignorance Excel is used for statistics. The statistics community has published about the many errors in that spreadsheet but people outside math culture just assume if it's from Microsoft, hey, it must be ok (I'm actually quite baffled by that attitude - don't they know they have to use anti-virus software? Don't they know their Windows is buggy? )

Numerics never was Microsoft's expertise and you better look elsewhere. If I were an advisor or examining your theses, I'd run your data through professional software (yes, I'm saying Excel isn't "professional statistics software").

As soon as Word is non WYSIWYG (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013059)

Call me old fashioned, but I find WYSIWYG editors to be more work then useful when dealing with large documents that need to be formatted in a standardized way. Particularly if one needs to manipulate the text in a large scale fashion.

Re:As soon as Word is non WYSIWYG (2, Interesting)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013177)

Would it be that hard for a WYSIWYG editor to implement a usable plain-text based editor to act as a fail-safe for users who actually know what's going on?

More than a decade ago I used to run Dreamweaver to create webpages, but most of my edits were done in the "html view". I could see Microsoft targeting a future where documents have a separate view which lets you see all the formatting mumbo-jumbo. Non-WYSIWYG isn't too hard to envision for a traditional Word Processor...

Re:As soon as Word is non WYSIWYG (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013589)

Posting anon since I've modded in the thread.

This was the path that WordPerfect chose. (see "Reveal Codes"). While this survived the transition to the mac, it did not survive (in terms of market share) the transition from DOS to Windows.

I really can't see MS going down this road -- which they explicitly rejected 15-20 years ago, but I'd be delighted to be wrong.

Everything old is new again, after all.

Re:As soon as Word is non WYSIWYG (3, Informative)

JerkBoB (7130) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013747)

Would it be that hard for a WYSIWYG editor to implement a usable plain-text based editor to act as a fail-safe for users who actually know what's going on?

Kids these days... What you are describing is WordPerfect's Reveal Codes [wikipedia.org] functionality. My 10th grade word processing class used WP, on Winderz 3.0. Even before that, I vaguely recall some C=64 editing software that had something like this functionality.

less than low (5, Insightful)

goffster (1104287) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013063)

The guys who need this stuff are already geeky, and why would geeky guys use something "for pay" that comes out of a budget? And since this will be in a proprietary format, why would they risk these documents becoming unreadable?

Re:less than low (0, Troll)

ilblissli (1480165) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013231)

geeks wouldn't care that it is not open source software, they'll just pirate it anyway.

Re:less than low (0)

goffster (1104287) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013359)

There are honest geeks and criminal geeks.
To say all geeks are criminals would be said
by:
      a) a moron
      b) a criminal who can not comprehend not being a criminal.

Re:less than low (1)

ilblissli (1480165) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013581)

i was just making a satirical generalization to negate your gross over generalization about geeks not wanting to pay for stuff they can get for free. i do not assume that all geeks are criminals.

faulty logic. (3, Insightful)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013551)

Some of the folks using TeX are also owners of Mathematica, IDL and other software that costs thousands of dollars per license -- because it increases their productivity.

It's not an issue of cost, it's an issue of the benefit for the cost -- and I don't think there will be the benefit unless MS Word decouples the content from the presentation. (which allows the TeX users to write their paper once, and then have it formatted correctly for whatever journal it'll be published in) As for becoming unreadable -- so long as you can export it to PDF, Post Script, or whatever, you're fine for archiving.

And would MS Word replace InDesign? I don't think so, but if they've got this support in MS Word, I can only assume they'll bring it over to MS Publisher, and they might be able to pick up some users.

I'd say.... (4, Interesting)

myNameIsNotImportant (592769) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013073)

still pretty slim, as it absolutely sucks at handling long documents, it doesn't work eliminate white space all that well (think multiple columns, where it matters the most), and its backwards compatibility is not exactly industry-leading. tex, however, is good at all of the above.

Oh I'm switching now.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013081)

yeah, right.

because digging through a GUI (that changes with every release) to find what I want is soooo much easier than just \whatever{x}.

Word Is The Editor of Choice (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013083)

Think about it, in almost all universities the Faculty of Arts and Social Science is the biggest faculty by size. Word is already the Editor of choice in Arts and Social Sciences.

For Sciences (Comp. Sci., Math, etc) most publications take Word and Latex.

Re:Word Is The Editor of Choice (1)

pbhj (607776) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013175)

Shh, you'll anger the computer geeks. They think everyone in academia admin's their own computers and prefer to use vi/emacs for writing and marking up their papers (LyX is for jocks).

The publishers probably just copy-paste into word when they get the tex submissions anyway.

Re:Word Is The Editor of Choice (1)

lahvak (69490) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013645)

The publishers probably just copy-paste into word when they get the tex submissions anyway.

Actually, most publishers of math journals require the submissions to be in LaTeX, as they use LaTeX to typeset the journal, and if they allow Word submissions, they run them through doc2tex, or have a secretary retype them in TeX if they are too messy for direct conversion. Generally, submissions in Word are considered to be a huge PITA, and if you ever tried to convert a poorly formatted Word document to TeX, you know why.

Re:Word Is The Editor of Choice (2, Interesting)

synthespian (563437) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013369)

A lot of people use Windows in academia, of course. The Unix die-hards will stick to their guns, but most will think it's great that Office 2010 can handle Math (BTW, the article never mentioned TeX).

Probably, this will introduce yet another rift in the culture, with some people demanding a document be made with Word. It'll be incompatible with everything else, as usual, creating yet another headache for those that avoid Microsoft (I do - I don't think they make good products - I prefer Mac, Linux and BSD).

Don't cry/cheer too soon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013099)

There's no particular guarantee it works at all.

Apples to Oranges (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013103)

Between this, the new equation editor and styles, what are the chances of Word replacing LaTeX as the editor of choice in academia?

Word and TeX are two very useful tools for two very different needs. Word has a long way to go before it is as complete, open and diverse as TeX and TeX has a long way to go before it is as easy to use and as pervasive as Word.

This sure is great news for Office 2010 (and for me at my job which forces me to use Office) but I think you're a little premature in thinking either of them are stepping on each other's toes or even close to conflict.

I don't know anyone who was holding onto TeX based purely on its support for Advanced Typographic features of OpenType.

Call me a grudge holding idiot but Office would have to undo years upon years of me suffering from "<MS Product> has encountered a problem and had to close, your shit is in a temporary file though and we'll try to recover your information or pieces of your information but this never works. Also, the last thing I did before I closed was mutilate the master copy." Now I may be exaggerating but it has helped that nothing else could ever open those files either. I don't know what .doc vs .docx means but until they get their shit together and I can read my saved file like an validated XML document, I'm not going to be putting anything important in any sort of Office format. If I'm going to be writing a paper or book, it ain't gonna be typeset in MS Word while those memories are fresh.

Re:Apples to Oranges (4, Informative)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013213)

For easy-to-use, LyX is the best front-end for LaTeX:

http://www.lyx.org/ [lyx.org]

IMO it's one of the most innovative of software projects, commercial or otherwise.

William

Re:Apples to Oranges (1)

Dan667 (564390) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013339)

I read that at first as lynx and thought you were a deeply deeply disturbed person before I realized my mistake.

Re:Apples to Oranges (1)

Extremus (1043274) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013713)

I beg to differ with you. Lyx is far from be a good tool for use in a daily basis. Tired from Word, I recently tried to enter de Latex world by the Lyx door. It indeed helped me to learn the logic behind the latex, but I soon realized that I was using a tool that was less user-friendly than Word and less flexible than raw Latex. So I simply started to code raw latex in a text editor. I only thing I miss from Lyx is the good revision system.

Re:Apples to Oranges (4, Insightful)

MikeUW (999162) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013749)

As a user of LyX, I generally agree. However, it still is in need of improvement in a variety of areas. In particular, if you have to prepare a document that needs to be formatted in a very specific way, you better hope for one of the following:

1) the format is simple, so not much work involved in setting it up.
2) one of the default templates/options gives you what you need (optionally append #1 here for variations if needed)
3) you've been provided a template (I wish...but very unlikely).
4) you are a wizard at TeX/LaTeX/LyX, and/or you can become one (RTFM, Google, etc.).

Option #4 is available to everyone with the learning capacity, inclination, and time to spend on it. Personally, I'm lacking somewhat in at least the latter two categories (and perhaps the former as well, as I've found setting up/configuring documents in LyX to be ridiculously frustrating). I've started using LaTeX recently, but only because I could only find a template for what I needed in only that format, and unfortunately importing/exporting LaTeX is not an option (it tends to get things pretty messed up).

I give it... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013109)

Badness 10000.

Not for me (4, Insightful)

xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013125)

I use LaTeX not only for its nice typographic properties, but because of how flexible it is. It's trivial to generate LaTeX code for automatically generating documentation, for instance. LaTeX may still be ahead in a couple areas (e.g., citations. Does Word beat out BibTeX yet?), but I'm not sure. As long as Word is GUI-based, I can't see it ever being anywhere near as flexible as LaTeX is.

This is still very cool though. I hate seeing flyers and menus and then that scream from 20 feet away "I WAS MADE IN WORD! MY TYPOGRAPHY WILL BURN YOUR EYES!" Anything that improves the quality of print around me is a good thing, I say.

Re:Not for me (1)

jbolden (176878) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013419)

LaTeX may still be ahead in a couple areas (e.g., citations. Does Word beat out BibTeX yet?

Word supports a bunch of bibliography managers like EndNote. The combination beats out TeX.

Re:Not for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013765)

not necessarily.
Lyx + Pybliographer works fine. I wrote my PhD using this combo. For free.
The big problem woth EndNote is that it costs $115 for a student. I would pay $30 for such a software so that I can use it at home - unless the $115 Student price covers multiple installations for non-simultaneous use what I doubt.

Re:Not for me (1)

mindcorrosive (1524455) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013805)

Very true. I can't be bothered now to remember how many times I've literally struggled with Word with various more or less "advanced" features like cross-referencing inside the documents, *accurate* list of figures and tables, custom "floats" (does Word even have this?), bibliography management (ahhh, the pain!), index, glossary, automatic code highlighting etc. Heck, I'm even doing my presentations in LaTeX... In LaTeX, the pain is setting up the document initially --- after that, the content tend to be very light on markup (if you're doing it right, that is). It just, well, works.
Also, the cost is effectively zero, as it's open-source. Packages for everything that has been ever put into print exist. You don't need fancy hardware to run it --- you can probably run it on Win 98-era machine, and it will still work (granted, the compiling would be a bit on the slow side probably, but still).

LaTeX also gets additional bonus points for the essentially unchanged, and pretty readable as it is, file format. I can still compile sources that I've created several years ago, and the result will be *exactly* the same, without a single change. The same trick also works regardless of the operating system (AFAIK, there are (La)TeX distributions for Windows, *nix, and Mac OS X, and they can deliver the same predictable results across all platforms).

When is Word going to beat that?

When it replaces notepad (4, Insightful)

blackchiney (556583) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013131)

So it can do something LaTex so what? It can also do HTML but I don't see Adobe or any other web writing tool throwing in the towel.

The big question is can it write it effectively. Word already has the tendency of turning a basic document into a code of spaghetti when saved as HTML. Somehow I don't see this being any different

Microsoft OpenType (2, Insightful)

rs232 (849320) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013141)

'Office 2010 finally adds support for Advanced Typographic features (ligatures, number forms, alternates, etc.) of OpenType, allowing one to create documents so far possible only in TeX or InDesign. Between this, the new equation editor and styles, what are the chances of Word replacing LaTeX as the editor of choice in academia?"'

About zero, but when will MS come after TeX for patent royalties on Microsoft OpenType ?

Re:Microsoft OpenType (2, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013433)

Never, they would destroyed in a prior art claim. They sue other people who don't know about TeX.

Wrong question (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013157)

There is not a question about Word taking over from LaTeX in academia since Word already dominates academia.

In most disciplines in academia (all of the humanities and social sciences for example) no one has heard of TeX or LaTeX, and people mostly don't have the technical skills to use either program easily. And they are _already_ all using Word.

By contrast, in mathematics and other disciplines where LaTeX is a good solution, it is very hard to imagine something as clunky, bug prone, bloated and hard to use as Word taking over from something robust and easy to use (if you think the way mathematicians think) like LaTeX.

Re:Wrong question (1)

xouumalperxe (815707) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013457)

I was going to say that, for what it does, TeX is easier to use than Word, period not just for mathematicians. Then I remembered I spent 4 years as a maths major, using TeX...

Can I use my LaTex packages? (4, Funny)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013185)

And does it run on *nix?

No? Then it's still useless to me.

Re:Can I use my LaTex packages? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013533)

And does it run on *nix?

No? Then it's still useless to me.

Word 2007 is running just fine on linux.

It is More Complicated than That (4, Insightful)

hahiss (696716) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013189)

Uh, lots of academia already (and sadly) uses Microsoft word. I know, because I have to convert my awesome-looking pdfLaTeX files into word processor documents when I submit them to journals or for conferences. It may be that SOME of academia has standardized on LaTeX (or TeX), but nowhere near all of it.

Moreover, there are lots of other reasons to use LaTeX beyond ligatures: proper typesetting; some ability to separate content/style; interoperability of the original TeX files as well as the DVI, PS and PDF outputs across OSes and programs; the ability to choose your favorite text editor for input; and, of course, the fact that TeX is Free Software and Word is not.

OpenType and Mac OS X (2, Informative)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013195)

Ho hum. Microsoft finally implemented a feature 5 years behind everyone else.

Most applications in Mac OS X get full OpenType support through the operating system. This includes Pages, Apple's very capable in-house word processor.

I'm not saying you should migrate from TeX (I use XeTeX for a lot of more complex typesetting operations), but you by no means need to look to Microsoft Word to get OpenType support. I switch between Pages for ease of use and TeX for freedom and typographic perfection.

Re:OpenType and Mac OS X (1)

xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013313)

Yes, I too was surprised by "possibly only in TeX and InDesign". Pages has been doing all this stuff for a while now.

Re:OpenType and Mac OS X (2, Interesting)

BorgDrone (64343) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013545)

Not only Pages, TextEdit (Apple's WordPad/Notepad equivalent) also has this.

So Office 2010 can render text as pretty as Apple's most basic text editor. All I can say is: about farking time!

Missing the Point (5, Insightful)

thethirdwheel (1291594) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013205)

TeX won't be replaced by Word because TeX's whole purpose is to provide a way to separate content and layout. Publishers care about this because the same content can be reshaped to fit their typesetting needs. Word is by its very nature a WYSIWYG. Why would publishers leave established infrastructure and a seamless way of assuring documents meet their typesetting needs to trust layout to amateurs and receive files which must be manually edited in order to modify layout?

Publishers? Layout? (1)

DingerX (847589) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013435)

Unless, of course, the publisher insists on camera-ready text, and make the editors of their books/journals responsible for typesetting/layout. In other words, it's already in the hands of the amateurs.

Re:Publishers? Layout? (2, Insightful)

lahvak (69490) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013691)

In which case TeX is again the preferred tool to use, since the publisher can simply provide a class file with some basic instruction on how to use it, and the authors/editors can come up with a well formatted camera ready document simply by following the (usually one page of) instructions.

This is only one of the other missing TeX features (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013257)

Incidentally, what will be the internationally recognized format of Word 2010 allowing me to use the documents unchanged over 20 year like I do with TeX?

And btw, a strong reason to use TeX is math formulae. Until Word formulae approaches the readability of those of TeX I dont see why mathematicians and physicists would change.

Low to None (1)

Lord Crowface (1315695) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013279)

Even with better typography support, Word is still unsuitable for anything more complex than a letter to Grandma. That's because it still makes it harder to create structured documents than LaTeX does. If I'm writing a novel or a paper or something, the ability to simply say "\chapter{In Which I Make A Fool of Myself on Slashdot}" is MUCH easier than mucking with the mess that is Word's half-baked paragraph styles. The only thing Word does better than LaTeX is pictures.

Re:Low to None (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013733)

In all honesty, I'm wondering what you find so difficult about Word's styles. I mean, I hear this complaint a lot but never with any specifics. What can I do with TeX styles that I can't do with Word styles?

TeX vs. Office (4, Insightful)

Chris_Jefferson (581445) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013285)

Office will take over from TeX when (at the least)

* It works on Linux (which lots of academics use.
* It works well with version control, making it easy to merge edits made by different people
* It is easy to generate tables from scripts and glue them into the document
* It is easy to take a pre-written document and put it in a new style.

Now, it's possible Office already does a few of those, and it's also very possible TeX does an awful lot more than that.

The cost isn't really that much of an issue for academics, as every university tends to have a site-licence for Office and other apps. Despite this, I still never use it.

Re:TeX vs. Office (4, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013659)

Word does have version control.

It is possible to change styles if you set it up properly when you are typing the document. Most people don't. It isn't the easiest thing to do, though apparently it is better in 2007 than 2003 which I use.

!editor (1)

bugi (8479) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013319)

LaTeX is not an editor.

And vi+latex is a lot easier to use than msword, so there.

Re:!editor (2, Insightful)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013595)

I think anyone who's never used vi before would like to have a word with you. When I first started using FreeBSD I had a few OHGODWHATDIDIDO incidents when vi started as the default editor. I had to switch to another console and use lynx to find :q!.

Or, in more Slashdot terms:

is a lot easier to use

I don't think that word means what you think it means.

Re:!editor (4, Insightful)

lahvak (69490) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013821)

I think it means exactly what he think it means. I think that what you mean is it is much harder to learn.

Features that would win me over to Word (1)

chthonicdaemon (670385) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013373)

A couple of things would need to change before I went over to Word.
  1. The advanced typography is a good move in the right direction, but I don't see any mention of paragraph-optimal line breaks.
  2. Automatic figure placement more like the floating bodies idea. The opportunity exists to have this implemented in a nicer way than LaTeX, by allowing manipulation after the automatic placement. I'd even settle for something I could run periodically, rather than being run online.
  3. The equation support has been improved a lot, with much better-looking rendering. Unfortunately common numbering schemes are still not supported with easy-to-use cross-referencing.
  4. Reproducability/documentation of method. The single biggest problem with word is that there is no way of determining how a certain effect was achieved by examining the document. This means that I often find myself (or colleagues) saying "I know it's aroung here somewhere" and hunting in the menus, where I could have just copied and pasted the code from my LaTeX document or shown someone else.
  5. Indication of formatting borders. There is often doubt about where the insertion point should be to be on the "right side" of formatting. A mode similar to firebug's inspection mode (where boxes are drawn around styles) would be a good start.

Markup versus WYSIWG (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013385)

TeX is not only about publishing, it is also about reliability, stability, portability, and efficiency. MS Word is the best tool to create memos and in many cases collaborate. It allows non technical people to create documents that are quite stunning, or hideous. Depending on the task at hand, it can be the best tool, superior to OO.org or anything that is out there.

However, unless one is concerned about the lack of ability to use 10 different fonts in a documents, or wants to see the effects of the 30 different colors one uses to code the text on a page, MS is not going to produce something better than TeX. Not only because does MS require that one moves to a non portable, non reliable, non readable format, but also because doing simple things takes quite a bit more time in MS Word, for the user that has the skills to so do.

This is a good thing for MS Word users. It will allow them to create better looking documents. I don't know of many LaTex users that will move to Word due to this. OTOH, the WYSIWG ease is going to over take the markup language professionals at some point because the former will simply be good enough.

LaTeX the editor of choice?! (5, Informative)

Mr. McGibby (41471) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013387)

I always find it funny that people talk about LaTeX being the system of choice in academia. While this may be true in Computer Science, Mathematics, and Physics circles, it certainly isn't true in a whole range of other disciplines such as Biology and the Social Sciences. The claim that LaTeX is what all of academia is using just isn't true.

Oh, and LaTeX is not an editor.

Re:LaTeX the editor of choice?! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013721)

To the hardcore CS, math, and physics folks, those other areas are not academia. They're pop culture.

Re:LaTeX the editor of choice?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013727)

[...]it certainly isn't true in a whole range of other disciplines such as Biology and the Social Sciences. The claim that LaTeX is what all of academia is using just isn't true.

Perhaps not all social sciences, but LaTeX seems to have a fairly strong majority in economics (especially in the form of proprietary Scientific Word/Workplace).

Closed Source FTW (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013411)

what are the chances of Word replacing LaTeX as the editor of choice in academia?

Hate to break it to you, but it already has, like 10 or 15 years ago. It is only some very zealous math people who still use TeX for anything important, and only even more zealous Linux or BSD users that do so on open source operating systems. In the last 10 years, closed source software has leapfrogged open source in every conceivable way. Windows 7 and OS X make Linux look like the crap that it is. Office 2010 puts POWER into the hands of both everyday users and power users like nothing else in history.

Admit it folks, open source software has failed miserably. Closed source has demonstrated, once and for all, that there is no real benefit to opening up software.

I await my downward moderation simply for telling the truth.

Re:Closed Source FTW (0, Flamebait)

pottymouth (61296) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013735)

Ahahahahahahahahaha!! Bet you voted for Obama too! Geez, stupid people are so cute!

DVI Output? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013439)

Yes? No?

Word documents, IMO, are 'lost content'. I've been involved with several knowledge capture projects and the crap we've had to import from Word docs has required extensive manual preprocessing. Not so with DVI (XML and SGML are even better). Word might look pretty for the PHB's consumption, but the world is progressing rapidly to a point where documents are as likely to be read by a machine for their content as by humans for their kewl layout.

Is LaTeX an editor? (1)

serbanp (139486) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013493)

what are the chances of Word replacing LaTeX as the editor of choice in academia?

Come on, Timothy, you can't be that ignorant!

Like it or not, it probably will... (1)

solios (53048) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013507)

TeX is Obtuse and used by people who need it because other applications don't do what they need (that's how it came to exist in the first place!).

You can't get within spitting distance of academia without acquiring at least a basic understanding of Office.

If the features perform reliably and as advertised, then it's a matter of Academicians extending their Office knowledge. You won't have to learn two apps if you don't want to.

People familiar with TeX will almost certainly keep using it; new users will probably go with Office since they already have it and know it to some extent.

That or Microsoft will make the feature implementation so horrifically obtuse (just like the rest of the application suite!) and Academia will stick with TeX because their old docs work with it (always important) and it's - GASP! - easier to use than whatever Microsoft is trying to jam down their throats.

Bottom line, MS is very, very late to the party on this one... and if it weren't the fact that you can't function in Academia without Office (or semi-regular access to a computer with Office), I doubt anyone would notice. Or care.

Problems with Word (3, Interesting)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013523)

- paragraph hyphenation is brain-dead one-line at a time
  - one must invoke commands to generate the ToC and Index and remember to re-invoke them if pagination changes
  - documents are non-portable / formatting is dependent on currently installed printer
  - graphics can be embedded and can be nightmarish to get out in a press-ready form
  - citations require third-party extensions which can interfere w/ importing / processing documents (hit Command shift F9 to convert all selected form fields to text)
  - There is no easy way to assign paragraph styles --- one has to build a custom toolbar to have them all available w/ a click, the arrangement of said toolbar is dependent on the _length_ of the stylenames --- why the outline view can't have some sort of pop-up menu or ability to assign more than Heading 1--n and Normal is beyond me
  - local formatting is insidious --- create an InDesign document, assign styles to everything, formatting everything w/ styles, take it into Word, then bring it back into InDesign and one will still have to clear over-rides to keep the text from being formatted as Times New Roman

and all of that doesn't consider stupid / ignorant users and the visually formatted, but not structured documents which they always create. Best indictment of that here:

Word Processors: Stupid and Inefficient by Allin Cottrell
http://ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/wp.html [wfu.edu]

If typography were easy, Word wouldn't be the foetid mess which it is.

One will also never use Word as the basis for back-end typesetting systems --- I've done them for customized children's stories and telephone directory line ads --- a co-worker (Jeff McArthur) at my previous workplace developed one which would do customized versions of the CIA World Factbook as a demo --- the original version did the typesetting for a 2,200 page register and the technology was customized and sold to several customers.

Also, to be fair and accurate, Quark XPress and several other DTP programs handle OpenType features in addition to InDesign and XeTeX/XeLaTeX http://www.tug.org/mailman/listinfo/xetex [tug.org] and the nascent luatex, http://www.luatex.org/ [luatex.org] (as well as ant http://ant.berlios.de/ [berlios.de]).

William
(who wrote a several thousand line WordBASIC macro to handle the formatting for a review journal for a major sci-med publisher so that the text could be pulled into Quark XPress 6, then 7, then finally InDesign CS3 --- I also wrote a xelatex package for typesetting the journal, but that was nixed by my boss 'cause if the journal had been done in TeX it would've been outsourced to India)

When will version pi be released? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013553)

This is the real question. TeX is currently at version 3.1415926 and that is still a long way from pi.

Visual consistency (1)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013567)

A very simple demonstration of the difference between Word and (La)TeX is in the handling of visual consistency. Suppose I'm writing a long document, with multiple sections, subsections, etc. To achieve consistency in Word, I have to manually check that I've left the same amount of white space above and below each heading. Likewise, I have to ensure that I've used the same font, weight, variant, etc.

Whereas, in LaTeX, I simply use the appropriate commends: \section{}, etc; and everything else is taken care of. Need to change the appearance of the headings at a later time? No problem, just tweak the definition of the \section{} command.

Is this for all users? Of course not. But when it comes to typesetting rather than word processing, LaTeX is a far superior product. Because Word is a WYSIWYG product, any extraneous white space (which LaTeX so usefully ignores) has to respected when laying out text, and this necessarily breaks any automatic formatting for visual consistency.

Ventura and FrameMaker predecessors also-with GUIs (1)

dmooresatx (940247) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013583)

InDesign and Word are very latecomers to this realm. Ventura and FrameMaker are both full-featured in tyographic finery and complex equation editing. Neither enjoy much market share, but Word will never match their intricate handling of long, technical documents.

MS Word vs InDesign (or Desktop publishing...) (1)

sam0737 (648914) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013611)

MS Word compare with InDesign or another Desktop publishing? Unless 2010 is very different from 2007...

TeX (Markup Language), Word (Document Processing), InDesign (Desktop Publishing) is very different...
There are thousands many more thing that Word is not suitable for Desktop Publishing - Flow oriented instead of Page oriented, Color accuracy (non RGB colorspace), "Printer" (i mean that Printer!) supports...They target audience hardly overlaps.

MS uses to make a software called Publisher, used to be part of the Office Suite (or is it still?). That might be comparable to InDesign. (At least for someone who need to do it much less expensive)

correlation is not causation, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28013673)

...I've never met a good mathematician who typesets in anything but handcoded LaTeX (or, for the greybeards, similar packages that came out before LaTeX).

Everyone who uses Word invariably drops out early on in the game. People whose mindset makes them prefer Lyx get a little further. But the ones who stay the course know the difference between mathematics as it is meant and mathematics as it is expressed, and it simply wouldn't make conceptual sense for them to use a WYSIWYG editor. "x to the power of 2" is best written as "x^2", not "x with a 2 placed somewhere above and to the right of it". 4/ths is "4 where 5 parts are whole", best written as \frac{4}{5}, not "a 4 above a 5 with a horizontal line separating each number". Writing maths as it's actually displayed on the page is just silly.

Wikialities are alive and well on Slashdot (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013697)

Between this, the new equation editor and styles, what are the chances of Word replacing LaTeX as the editor of choice in academia?

LaTeX has a devoted following, but its userbase is decidedly in the minority - even among engineering faculty and students. The majority of academic users are using Word, and have been for almost as long as I can remember.

Ligatures? (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 4 years ago | (#28013737)

Will it support ligatures on my nine-pin printer? I mean, seriously, this isn't a hot new feature, this is long, long overdue.

-Peter

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