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LyX Joins the Google Summer of Code 2013

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the needs-support-for-anti-aircraft-missiles dept.

Programming 70

Hamburg writes "LyX joined this year's Google Summer of Code (GSoC 2013) as a mentoring organization. The LaTeX based open-source GUI LyX has been accepted to the GSoC for the first time. With LyX one can start using LaTeX without being used to 'program' documents. So it's an important entry point to the (La)TeX world, and a bridge between GUI word processors and LaTeX. This is a great opportunity for its development, now student developers can get financial support for contributing new features: successful contributions will earn a stipend of 5000 USD for the student and 500 USD for the organization, in this case the LyX project, who provides mentors to the students. There are already many project ideas, for example a GUI for editing layouts, a presentation mode, EPUB export, an outliner tool for intuitive writing, retina screen (HiDPI) support, and interactive concurrent editing. Would you like to take part, or do you have further ideas for improvements or features? Send your proposals to the lyx-devel mailing list, or simply comment here, what can be suggested to the LyX mentors."

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70 comments

Interface to online compilers (5, Interesting)

Hamburg (2890317) | about a year ago | (#43440671)

As I wrote on here on TeX.SE [stackexchange.com] , an interface allowing to use to online compilers would be great. So we could have a slim LyX installation while being able to use a maintained up-to-date TeX distribution instead of installing gigabytes locally on each computer. For example the open source LaTeX web API CLSI [github.com] could be used.

Re:Interface to online compilers (1)

Robadob (1800074) | about a year ago | (#43440687)

LyX can export directly to latex .tex code which should compile on online compilers. It may not be as convenient than a button to do it straight away but It should be possible to create a version of LyX without the LaTeX libs. I imagine to directly compile using an online service, LyX would need to host it themselves or come to an agreement with a company who provides the service.

Re:Interface to online compilers (4, Informative)

jdleesmiller (2841501) | about a year ago | (#43440713)

As mentioned on HN (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5537273), this is something we'd be happy to support on writeLaTeX (https://www.writelatex.com). I should also point out that there is a fairly well-established protocol for online latex compilers, namely that of the CLSI (https://github.com/scribtex/clsi), which is maintained by jpallen at ShareLaTeX. So, it should be straightforward to do this in a vendor-neutral way.

Re:Interface to online compilers (2)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | about a year ago | (#43440733)

Or sharelatex [sharelatex.com] .

Re:Interface to online compilers (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43441395)

I don't always use a condom (I love bareback) but when I do, I prefer sheepskin.

Re:Interface to online compilers (1)

Gregori Kanatzidis (2896129) | about a year ago | (#43440797)

Just to rehash what I said on Hacker News, We're in the process of exposing our own compiling API for SpanDeX [spandex.io] already so this is good timing. Another benefit is that features available with online services could also be exposed to LyX users.

Re:Interface to online compilers (2)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#43440945)

That would seem almost trivial from a coding standpoint. I think the real thing is infrastructure. If you had servers on which the system was authenticated LyX could save files remotely or move then via. ssh. LyX can use an arbitrary TeX including an ssh connect. TeX can accept input streams....

CLSI sounds cool. I didn't know about it. But IMHO the real issue is who is willing to provide the service.

Re:Interface to online compilers (1)

sivo (2896187) | about a year ago | (#43441939)

This sounds like a really, really cool idea. The only thing I would be concerned about are when you have to use semi-obscure packages, or compatibility issues for when you're working offline (rare these days I know, but it does happen!). Listings package for example has some very notorious backward compatibility issues that are hard to debug, they'll just happen and something won't look right, no errors.

Re:Interface to online compilers (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about a year ago | (#43444499)

LaTeX documents tend to be compiled at short intervals in bursts, every 30 seconds is not uncommon, because every little change needs a recompilation to see its effect. I'm not sure it's cool to do a full network roundtrip every 30 seconds just to see what the effect of a comma is going to be on the paper layout. And what happens if the server is down or busy?

It seems to me that if you can have an online LaTeX service that's well maintained and can compile documents on demand, why couldn't you also have an online LaTeX installation service that's well maintained and can serve fully setup, guaranteed to work, packages for end users?

Re:Interface to online compilers (2)

jdleesmiller (2841501) | about a year ago | (#43444867)

At writeLaTeX.com [writelatex.com] , we compile automatically, typically every 5s-10s. One of the things that makes it work is that the server can cache most of the stuff that doesn't change often, such as the figures. This does require a bit more sophistication on the client end than just uploading all the inputs for every compile, but it's definitely possible. In terms of packages, we run a full TeXLive distribution on the back end, which covers most things. (But we still have to install CTAN packages on request from time to time.)

Re:Interface to online compilers (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43445823)

LaTeX documents tend to be compiled at short intervals in bursts, every 30 seconds is not uncommon, because every little change needs a recompilation to see its effect.

You're using TeX wrong, then. You simply don't need to see every little change - at least not when dealing with normal text. You type in hundreds of pages if need be - and you know that it will be laid out nicely because LaTeX always do that well. There may be some corner cases where you need a lot of compiling, but writing normal textual documents is not one of them.

You look at the document layout once, when finished. Usually, there is nothing to fix.

Re:Interface to online compilers (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | about a year ago | (#43450617)

You're just wrong. I love TeX/LaTeX, but it simply can't be used the way you propose. An important reason why is that it doesn't lay out mathematics for you.

While it's easy to write pages of prose without compiling (since your text editor gives instant feedback anyway) when it comes to typing equations it's a totally manual process with plenty of trial and error that requires frequent recompiling.

It's extremely hard to see what's going on just from the LaTeX markup alone, when you have lots of indices (sub and superscripts), parentheses, ampersands and several lines with equal signs that must be broken and aligned on an ad-hoc basis, just to fit everything within the margins of the actual page and not go over the page length either.

If you make one mistake, suddenly your curly braces don't close properly and the document fails to compile and it's a bitch to figure out, particularly if you leave it too late and have typed a couple of pages more. Part of the reason is that in mathematical arguments, there are a lot of nearly identical lines where only a tiny piece changes at a time - quite confusing. Then you realize that you need to pull out some common terms to make things flow or read better, and removing equation code without visual feedback is deadly too. Furthermore, copying leaves problems with equation labels which is a whole other world of pain if you don't have a good naming convention.

You can't leave any of that until the end when you've typed the whole document, as you'll have forgotten what you were doing by then and it will be harder to fix than if you do it straight away.

Like I said: bursts of recompilations.

Re:Interface to online compilers (1)

johanneswilm (549816) | about a year ago | (#43442275)

it looks great -- for programmers. "normal peopel" will be put off because they have to write code and cannot see it WYSIWYG. That's another reason why we started http://www.fiduswriter.com/ [fiduswriter.com]

Re:Interface to online compilers (1)

fa2k (881632) | about a year ago | (#43445363)

Bah, who cares about a few gigabytes on real computers (including netbooks too). Maybe sysadmins with hundreds of diskless clients care, but with installing TeX on a shared mount, that's no problem. And who worries about updates anymore when there's apt, yum and hundreds of hacked together solutions on Windows. Maybe sysadmins who have hundreds of clients who needs updates, but don't ahve unlimited bandwidth ;) For that, there's local update repos

Remote compilation is interesting at first glance though because it can take ten or more seconds to compile a large Latex file on a slow computer, and compilation is single-threaded, so having a really fast server for this could be beneficial. Most other text processing jobs don't require much juice, with the unfortunate exception of *displaying* PDFs. After compilation, the resulting PDF file will have a size of order a few MB, so there will be practically no transmission delay on a LAN, and a few seconds over the internet. The problem is to upload the content to the server, including all graphical content. No problem on a LAN, but it would be a nightmare for home users, because the upload is typically 10 % of the download speed.

The CLSI does allow for caching, but it requires an URL for the cached content, so you'd need another server just to hold a second cached copy of the files. It would be an interesting challenge for developers to write code to manage the uploads -- with correct queueing and error handling. In the end I think that the time saved by having fast compilation is going to be negligible (except for on a LAN, but then the sysadmins would have to set up 1) an upload server and 2) a compilation server, and this is probably too much, except possibly at huge universities and NASA and CERN). It seems more interesting to have a purely remote system *including an editor* on the web (no, X11 forwarding with LyX doesn't cut it, too slow). That way one could work on documents from computers without having to install anything, for example when one has to borrow a computer. This wouldn't be a LyX project though.

LYX is a good editor (1)

Robadob (1800074) | about a year ago | (#43440677)

I'm currently using LYX to write my dissertation report, it does a good job of hiding the latex for basic structures, and you can press ctrl+L at any time if you wish to insert raw latex. My only issue I've had using LYX actually lies with the listings package for latex which isn't LYXs fault. (The listings packages syntax highlighting functionality doesn't easily support the highlighting of the '' in XML syntax without various hacks which temperamental results at best). Although LYX could benefit from a dedicated editor for generating listings highlighting code for the latex preamble I suppose, however it would be a shame to do this without improving the listings package first.

Re:LYX is a good editor -- not rue! (2)

Erikderzweite (1146485) | about a year ago | (#43440775)

I strongly disagree, LyX is not a good editor, it is a great one! :-) It's formulas editing is absolutely unmatched. I have switched to pure LaTeX nowadays, but recommend LyX to any student I know.

A success story from my side: at the university I have used LyX to type down lecture information from a blackboard. I have, of course, shared my pdfs and .lyx files. Later on, even the professor himself has used my documents because he had his lectures written down by hand previously. And I got a part-time job from the said professor, part of the job was to digitalize his lectures. And because he was putting his complete script on a blackboard, I basically got paid for visiting his courses (which I had to visit anyway).

Later on, I have used LyX for my thesis, but even then I have been in the process of switching to raw LaTeX. LyX is somewhat less flexible, but a great entry point to the world of beautiful documents.

Re:LYX is a good editor -- not rue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43441039)

I strongly disagree in the other direction... these sorts of editors that get away from LaTeX just make it a million times more confusing later on when you need to do something that is actually difficult, and barely any easier for the things that are simple. It's great if it helps introduce people to LaTeX, but beyond that I view them as a waste of time -- both for using them, and those that expend so much energy developing them instead of something else.

When things go wrong with these types of editors (and the always do, as soon as people decide to do a big, important project) and people ask me for help, I just tell them to install a clean version of LaTeX and use a text editor, because it is easier to explain how than to sort out what went wrong.

But then, I'm an Emacs user, so I'm already crazy, right?

Re:LYX is a good editor -- not rue! (1)

PhamNguyen (2695929) | about a year ago | (#43444413)

I think it comes down to different workflows.

A typical academic or grad student will constantly revise a document. By the time I've written a paper, I've probably done editing equivalent to re-writing it 10x. Most of the time is spent writing text and formulas.

If you are spending a lot of time doing formatting, either of the document or very complex formulas, then LyX probably isn't a good solution. But if your formulas remain within what LyX can handle and the document is nothing but text and formulas, LyX great. I don't even bother to preview anymore, now my eyes have adjusted to the ugly formatting within the LyX gui.

Re:LYX is a good editor -- not rue! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43445861)

I disagree, except for one thing. You are so good at LaTeX, that you have no need for LyX. That is fine. Most people never get there - for them, it can't be much harder than "using word". Such people can now get LaTeX typesetting quality without knowing a single LaTeX command.

I know LaTeX well, but I still prefer LyX for the sheer speed. A keyboard shortcut instead of typing "\section{}" over and over and over. No compile errors either, no debugging of my document. With LyX, I can go to a full-day meeting and write the minutes in real time - including formatting. And send out a nice-looking PDF as soon as the meeting ends - no afterwork needed. Try that using only LaTeX. Perhaps you can - I know I cannot.

As for things going wrong in big projects - what would that be? I have written a book in LyX - nothing special going wrong. The publisher had lots of layout requirements, including a provided font. That was handled with a few pages of LaTeX-code. But the book content - all 384 pages - was written in LyX.

While it is possible to make LyX fail (usually by inserting malformed LaTeX code), it does not get worse with large projects. I have heard of word struggling with hundred-page documents and TOC errors and such - but not LyX. I created a 16000 page document as a stress test once. It made LyX slower - but no crashes or other errors.

EPUB output! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43440685)

EPUB output!

Re:EPUB output! (1)

DeBaas (470886) | about a year ago | (#43441011)

Fully agree. I wrote two books which I (self) published at Amazon in Lyx. Exporting to HTML and then use Calibre works, but can be tedious.

Re:EPUB output! (3, Insightful)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#43441057)

What you want is .dvi to EPUB. That's a TeX/LaTeX feature not a LyX feature.

Re:EPUB output! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43441805)

LaTeX outputs pdf directly these days, not dvi.

Re:EPUB output! (2)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#43441903)

No. There are 2 TeX engines: TeX proper which goes to dvi and PDFTeX which skips .dvi. LaTeX extensions work against either engine but need to be built against both. The font system is particularly nasty since metafont isn't PDF only.

I wish that TeX would just flush .dvi and tie themselves to the PDF standard. But no, they haven't.

Re:EPUB output! (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about a year ago | (#43442521)

No, .dvi is like .pdf:

  - page-oriented
  - positional
  - stripped of semantics.

One wants a direct conversion which:

  - allows re-flow
  - preserves semantics
  - sets math as mathml

William
(who thinks LyX is the most innovative opensource app yet --- I just wish there were a vector drawing app equivalent, something more powerful than xasy for Asymptote, more elegant than metagraf for metapost, as nice as Freehand for postscript)

Re:EPUB output! (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#43442603)

There are only two engines, and you would lose the ability to use LyX if you lost the TeX engine. 3 decades ago TeX had something that stripped those issues off dvi2tty. It is easy to drop the page orientation. Mathml may not be needed, TeX can render centered equations using jpgs easily.

Re:EPUB output! (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about a year ago | (#43448597)

dvi2tty doesn't preserve semantics.

It's not easy to decide which paragraphs end at a page break and which don't.

MathML is needed to interface w/ Computer Algebra Systems.

JPEGs don't scale.

Re:EPUB output! (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#43450745)

dvi2tty doesn't preserve semantics. It's not easy to decide which paragraphs end at a page break and which don't. MathML is needed to interface w/ Computer Algebra Systems.

Sure but we are talking e-readers here.

JPEGs don't scale.

They sort of can be magnified. Beyond that, why do they need to? You want the equation to break in fairly specific ways, that's the whole thing with multi-line equations. You don't want flow on your equations which means you can constrain size.

What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (3, Interesting)

Coeurderoy (717228) | about a year ago | (#43440747)

I'm like many other professionalls a "lapsed" Fan of LaTeX, truth be told I started with troff -man and the various ancillary tools of the Unix environment
What I recognize is that LaTeX (and the roff familly) enables you to create content that is WAY better looking in many ways.

So why don't I ? in part because I recognized that my investment in *roff was quietly dying off.... so I had to change to something
Partly because Open Office gave me a "free option" so I "could" go to a wysiwyg solution.

And because I started to need to exchange documents with people who would write part of it, and if you are not working in academia this means that the probability of working with LaTeX friendly colleage is quite low.

So what would make me come back...

If I could have an heuristic tool that reads my .odt (or even the .docx version or the .pdf) analyse the structure, and creates a LaTeX document that has the same content but NOT really the same layout but as close as possible the same structure.

There are a couple of tools pdf/odt/word to LaTeX but they all try to convert the original document into LaTeX that looks just like the original document.
What I think would be a game changer would be to have a new document, able to leverage the embedded knowledge in the more common LaTeX templates, and create a tweakable MUCH better looking, new document.

I would then be happy to use LyX as an entry point for WysiWyg tweaking, and finallly jump into emacs to really finalize my document...

Re:What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43440777)

For text (including lists etc) to me LyX is sufficiently easy to use that I simply paste the text and then format it (using the shortcuts to assign headers, lists etc). Of course if there are a lot of cross-references or formulas, this becomes more complicated. Still the LyX interface is great and adding formulas (once you learn keyboard shortcut and some usual LaTeX math commands to speed up formula writing) is for me about 1/4 of the time for Word. So it is definitely doable. /Anders

Re:What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#43441043)

I would then be happy to use LyX as an entry point for WysiWyg tweaking, and finallly jump into emacs to really finalize my document...

Understand when you are talking LyX you are talking computer generated code not human generated. It can be very complex to modify. You can do minor edits to do things LyX doesn't support (though LyX allows you to do TeX directory) but you aren't going to want to work on a LyX document in a normal text editor as a human for much.

Re:What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (1)

devent (1627873) | about a year ago | (#43441703)

That is what I was talking about. So Lyx basically ties you to Lyx with the new file Lyx-format. But Tex files are human "generated" and by that they are really simple and easy to understand. Lyx replacing that simple human written and understandable language with some computer generated code. So basically it throws Latex away and replaces it with a text like binary format.

No I can't agree to that. Even if Lyx is generating better looking documents because it's Latex under the hood. But it does by throwing away a big advantage of Latex.

Re:What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#43441883)

You get the picture. I wouldn't quite go as far as binary. But yes you do throw away the advantages of a human readable editable file. LyX is a good crutch for the learning curve for TeX. But ultimately someone is going to want more WYSIWYG or they are going to want learn TeX.

Re:What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43442549)

that's ridiculus. the .lyx file is entirely readable, no more complicated than reading regular LaTeX with the advantage that it automatically sets the whitespace.

Re:What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43442465)

have a look inside the .lyx file. it's no so bad. compared to editing PostScript by hand it's trivial.

Re:What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#43442619)

Oh I agree is is better than editing most PostScript by hand. There is a long distance between worst possible case and comfortable. Though I have worked with gorgeous PostScript. Old fashioned hand coded PostScript was pretty awesome sometimes.

Re:What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (1)

devent (1627873) | about a year ago | (#43441555)

I would rather argue that Tex/Latex is way simpler to learn then any Word Software.
I don't know about Lyx but it would help to have a one simple Setup.exe for Windows users that installs the Lyx software and setup the most common Latex packages so it's ready to go. On Linux is for course trivial. Just install all texlive packages it be done with it.

But frankly, I don't really like Lyx. I just try Lyx again and it feels like any Word processor. WYSIWYG horror brought to you to Latex.
Latex is great because all you do is edit simple Text Files, in a simple Text Editor. No formatting is shown to you. All you need to do is add some buttons to compile the Latex code, show previews and create Pdf files. IMHO Kile is way simpler, easier and straight forward to use Latex editor.

For example in Lyx the sections are shown as 1. The Section, with The Section is big and bold. What is the point in doing that? IMHO Lyx should just abandon that and instead just show tag like symbols on the left hand side. And show the text just as text.

Why did you invent some new format, why not just use Tex files? By inventing a new format you throw away all what is good of Latex: a stable interchangeable format. It's like we have ODT but LibreOffice will invent a new format. The great thing about Latex is that I can use Linux, Texlive, MacOS and give the Tex file to someone else, who is using Windows or other Tex Distribution, and that person can create the same Pdf file that I have. But now all you did is introducing a new dependency for no reason at all. And a new incompatibility: Lyx13, Lyx14, Lyx15, Lyx16.

An error occurred while running:
tex2lyx -f "groovybash_en.tex" "groovybash_en.lyx"

Done manually in the console:

$ tex2lyx -f "groovybash_en.tex" "groovybash_en.lyx"
Overwriting existing file /mnt/read/devent/Projects/com.anrisoftware/groovybash/groovybash-docu/groovybash_en.lyx
Cannot read layout file `'.
Error reading `'
(Check `documanual')
Check your installation and try Options/Reconfigure...
Error: Could not read layout file for textclass "documanual".

documanual is my own document class file, in the same directory as the Tex file: documanual.cls.
Great, it can't even open Latex files. So I need to buy into the Lyx style and abandon my style. So Lyx is Tex for Dummys?

Re:What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (2)

devent (1627873) | about a year ago | (#43441589)

BTW; Kile is just that: a simple text editor using the same text editor GUI and engine as Kate and KWrite (simple text editors in KDE). All what the developers have added is buttons for some common Latex commands, a button to compile the Latex code, and previews.

Re:What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (1)

devent (1627873) | about a year ago | (#43441657)

Working with colleagues with Latex is quite simple: each colleague will write the text in whatever he/she likes. The partner will send you the text document (can be text file, ODT file, Microsoft Word file) and you copy and paste the text in the Latex project, and add Latex formats for section, paragraph, footnote, etc. The finished Pdf file can then be distributed.

Re:What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (1)

jgrahn (181062) | about a year ago | (#43442789)

Working with colleagues with Latex is quite simple: each colleague will write the text in whatever he/she likes. The partner will send you the text document (can be text file, ODT file, Microsoft Word file) and you copy and paste the text in the Latex project, and add Latex formats for section, paragraph, footnote, etc.

Or better: each colleague will check out/clone the project from revision control, write her part of the text in whatever she likes, and commit/push the changes. Then you can touch it up, and it goes back out on review until everyone's satisfied.

Re:What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (1)

rmstar (114746) | about a year ago | (#43443249)

Or better: each colleague will check out/clone the project from revision control, write her part of the text in whatever she likes, and commit/push the changes. Then you can touch it up, and it goes back out on review until everyone's satisfied.

Theory is that way <==

Practice over there ==>

Some people use editors that wrap lines on screen but save it as one long line, and others use editors that wrap it on file too. Enough to mess up any useful version control. And it's not practicable to convinve people to chane their tools.

Standard practice is to email tarballed or zipped versions to each other, or use dropbox, and keep a kind of locking protocol on sections and files ("I am working on the proof of the this-and-that theorem - don't touch it until I'm done") Or better yet, one person has control of the file, and sends it to one researcher at a time for changes, merges the results by hand based on merit and contents, and then sends the thing to the next one.

For that type of workflow, ammendment tracking like what Word has is just fantastic, while typical VC magic on plain text files (git and co) just suck.

LyX is a nice idea, but I don't know anyone who actually uses it. In my case, I tried writing an article with it, but at the end I had to submit a LaTeX document, and the tex export of LyX was simply not usable. Much better to just use emacs + auctex + reftex.

Re:What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43441839)

If I could have an heuristic tool that reads my .odt (or even the .docx version or the .pdf) analyse the structure, and creates a LaTeX document that has the same content but NOT really the same layout but as close as possible the same structure.

I'm thinking of doing something like that, from inside of LibreOffice as a one-click/keypress solution. (Additionally, the same engine could do OOXML imports/exports, the basic idea is roughly the same - have a generic, rule-driven document structure transformer, with some sane way of allowing the user to make custom rules.) But given their slightly differing purposes, I wouldn't go for LaTeX output, I'd go for a ConTeXt one. It feels cleaner to me, and nowadays (we have the LuaTeX days nowadays), it doesn't require PhD in token processor engineering to extend.

Re:What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43441937)

Write a book! If you get over 100 pages or so, you'll quickly slam into the limits of Word, Open/LibreOffice, etc. I did. I have several 2000+ page books in LaTeX and I simply could not have done them in a word processor. For a two-page resume or something, word processors are faster, but after a tipping point of about 100 pages, you need a typesetting package.

Re:What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43445247)

For a two-page resume or something, current word processors are faster

There. Fixed that for you. Just because the current breed of graphical authoring applications is mostly crap doesn't mean that this situation is going to stay with us until the Sun turns into a red giant.

Re:What would make me move to Lyx - LaTeX (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about a year ago | (#43442531)

Use the memoir documentclass --- you can get any desired apearance w/ it.

CAS integration (2)

islisis (589694) | about a year ago | (#43441215)

LyX is the fastest interface I have come across for mathematical syntax, due to the great foundations and comprehensive input mapping. It would be lovely to be able to use generally as a notebook, especially if there were some upgrades to the rudimentary CAS (computer algebra system) support included up to V2.

One feature fundamental to this goal is the parsing of respective CAS languages, obviously, in particular multi-line expressions. In the case of Maxima, I experimented with LyX -> LaTeX -> Maxima conversion in manual steps, playing with SnuggleTeX [ed.ac.uk] , but apart from requiring generous amounts of scripting being a java library this is not the most straightforward way to interact with LyX or Maxima.

If someone were to start a project to improve on LyX's CAS integration this would interest me greatly and I would look forward to contributing. The idea of ultimately converging to plain-readable interactive scientific documents together with projects like Sage to me is truly exciting, and I hope that LyX's interface can be part of it.

Re:CAS integration (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43441279)

Perhaps this would be helpful:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texmacs

Re:CAS integration (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#43441493)

There are far more feature rich notebooks systems that include more than just TeX: http://www.sagemath.org/tour.html [sagemath.org]
But if you want primarily TeX plus computer algebra (Maple) it exists but it is commercial. http://www.mackichan.com/ [mackichan.com]

Re:CAS integration (1)

islisis (589694) | about a year ago | (#43445835)

Texmacs is great, I have used it and it performs the features I described better than LyX.
I am coming from a perspective of how LyX handles input, however, and while admittedly that too is similar I think LyX is far more polished, customisable and holds a bright future =)

I think Sage will ultimately serve projects where CAS integration is more vital and soluble - my reference to 'notebook' is closer to the traditional kind, but with greater readability by strangers :) LyX and Sage are likely to forever serve different paths which is why I think improving features in both would be quite interesting. I use the example of Maxima over other CAS languages because it is probably easier to integrate in more environments.

Re:CAS integration (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#43446129)

i haven't played with Texmacs in years. Might be worth trying again.

I don't know Maxima in terms of CAS. Many years ago I used Maple oriented notebooks and Mathematica ones and they integrated well. But Maxima was at that point very rough, I'd assume things have gotten much better and it makes sense for OpenSource to focus on Maxima.

Put the work into LibreOffice (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#43441245)

It would be more useful to fix LibreOffice to produce output that looks as good as TeX.

One forgotten approach comes from Interleaf. Most WYSIWYG word processors today show you only the document - the markup is invisible. The old Word Perfect approach, where you could see the markup characters, or the HTML source approach, is too clunky. But Interleaf showed the output text alongside a column of annotation information. So you could see the difference between a tab indent and a paragraph indent, for example. That would be an appropriate way to present fine formatting controls.

Re:Put the work into LibreOffice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43441451)

Why? Lyx is EXTREMELY good, Latex is just as good, and they work *now*. Best to improve them for what they're meant (professional typesetting and no-nonsense document editing, which makes 20% of the human race happy), and leave the semi-professional "wordo" editing to libreoffice (which *is* good enough for 80% of the human race).

There is indeed a place for both styles of working (I happen to use both, even). Granted, I'd never touch libreoffice if I had a choice since I am about 25% more productive when using a document processor like Lyx, but I have to interoperate. Any tech reports, articles and personal stuff go through Lyx. Workplace manuals where there is non-zero risk of my boss getting pissed if I create company assets that the usual class of techs [that can barely use MS-Word correctly] won't be able to edit, to libreoffice.

Re:Put the work into LibreOffice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43442441)

Latex is just as good

Latex is for condoms, LaTeX is for typesetting.

Granted, I'd never touch libreoffice if I had a choice

And not touching things is what condoms are for.

Re:Put the work into LibreOffice (1)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about a year ago | (#43442839)

Most WYSIWYG word processors today show you only the document - the markup is invisible. The old Word Perfect approach, where you could see the markup characters, or the HTML source approach, is too clunky. But Interleaf showed the output text alongside a column of annotation information. So you could see the difference between a tab indent and a paragraph indent, for example. That would be an appropriate way to present fine formatting controls.

Since we're all comfortable with using tabs (and MS's "Ribbon" is training office-types in tabbed toolbars) perhaps it would make sense to split content-creation and content-design into a separate workspaces? Ie, instead of just tabbed tool-bars, you have tabbed document views. If the Write tab is a WYSIWYG workspace, the design/format tab is then free to not only show formatting, but do so in an intuitive n00b-friendly GUI style. With colours, frames, controls/handles around parts of the document to show formatting and behaviours for easy manipulation.

[Likewise, a separate tab for printing/publishing (preview + page and printer settings), another for the document-as-a-file (directory + metadata + versioning/changes), etc. Maybe a combined help/tools/preferences tab....]

Re:Put the work into LibreOffice (1)

sivo (2896187) | about a year ago | (#43442853)

If you were saying this in contest of another less meritorious WISYWIG editor, I'd agree with you. However it's not really proper to compare WISYWIG with WISYWYM (what you see is what you mean), and say one should be developed over the other. The goals of the two styles of editing are different, and in some contexts one is more productive than the other. It all depends on the problem you're trying to solve.

Re:Put the work into LibreOffice (2)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#43445433)

It would be more useful to fix LibreOffice to produce output that looks as good as TeX.

http://writer2latex.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] is active for OpenOffice
http://extensions.libreoffice.org/extension-center/writer2latex-1 [libreoffice.org] is the Libre version though no one is pushing across changes.

Framemaker / Docbook (1)

jbolden (176878) | about a year ago | (#43441515)

This goes beyond typical summer of code but what about adding Framemaker type capabilities to LyX. Right now LyX is a word processor that outputs to TeX. What about an entire document authoring and organizational GUI which used LyX / TeX for the lower level stuff. Pull in DocBook.

Gui for editing layouts (1)

spasm (79260) | about a year ago | (#43441713)

"for example a GUI for editing layouts"

This! Latex and Lyx are fabulous as long as there's a class file or style file available for whatever format you need, but the second you're preparing something where there's no existing class file, you're screwed unless you want to spend hours with the Lamport book learning the intricacies - something that by definition Lyx is trying to help users avoid. Most of the time there's even something close to what you want - I ended up digging through the Lamport book when doing my PhD because there was an old, out of date class file available for doctoral theses for my institution, but it needed to be updated to meet changed requirements for filing. A gui allowing me to edit the layout would have saved me a lot of pain.

Great news. (4, Interesting)

sivo (2896187) | about a year ago | (#43441885)

Dude this is awesome. I use LyX all the time even though I'm perfectly fluent and capable with LaTeX. The immediate feedback you get from it means I can spend less time worrying about syntax and more time thinking about mathematics. I often don't even write on the board or on paper, I just go straight to LyX; I'm fast enough typing in it that it's the same.. plus my notes are instantly typeset beautifully. Also not having to do a makefile to handle the massively convoluted commands to compile LaTeX that uses lots of necessary packages (e.g. BiBTeX) is a huge productivity boost.

LyX does have some failings though. I learned with my thesis that it's not yet ready for a serious long-term multi-document project. Some of the LaTeX details are insufficiently exposed, and so when tweaking is necessary it's difficult to get under the hood and make something happen that needs to happen (like once I couldn't get linebreaks in figure captions.. Simple in LaTeX, but in LyX...) Sometimes when it IS possible to do LaTeX tweaking it won't behave nicely with LyX because LyX isn't technically a LaTeX frontend, it uses its own typesetting language and converts at compile if you want e.g. a pdf in the style of pdflatex. One example of this is putting in \noindent to remove spurious indenting after figures,equations. Put it next to text in LyX and it won't compile even though it's in its own LaTeX environment.

For small projects those things aren't really a big deal, you get by with a workaround.. but on a huge project like my thesis you have put in so much work and already have a huge base of work that the little things just need to work, because you can't just say "oh well just won't do that thing." Also the errors you get at compile are all LaTeX errors, which even if you're editing a LaTeX document aren't terribly informative, but editing LyX it can be next to impossible to tell where that error is coming from without exporting to LaTeX and looking, which costs time.

Still.. Fix these things, and LyX has the potential to be a massive productivity tool. Many of the proofs in my thesis I directly began in LyX without working out on paper beforehand, and then edited it for prettiness later. It's the perfect balance between proper typesetting and what mathematics gets presented to the user. WYSIWYM as the LyX folks say, but still usable as a notebook for on-the-fly work.

Some features I'd love to see is a solid symbolic math interface. It has one currently but it's limited. Scientific Workplace has an *excellent* symbolic interface, and when I used that (which I don't anymore because it's not portable across multiple OS) I had a huge productivity gain. Imagine typing in a frustratingly complicated integral that you need in a proof, and just highlighting it and typing "Ctrl+e" and it spits out the typeset solution before your eyes IN YOUR DOCUMENT. Sure you'll have to edit it down because likely it will exceed margins, or isn't exactly in the form that is most appropriate for the context.. but that's editing work that you'll have to do anywhere anyways. I'd also like to see a better supported nomenclature package, which is currently a tad buggy in LyX (random deleting of nomenclature entries, no way to browse nomenclature entries throughout document without resorting to ctrl+f, etc).

web-based? (1)

johanneswilm (549816) | about a year ago | (#43442249)

LyX is great, but the fact that it is something you need to install on a desktop + the interface makes it look like something from the early 1990s. What is needed is really some thing like Google Docs, but made with latex output in mind. That icnldues citation management, etc. Some friends and I are giving it a shot with Fidus Writer ( http://www.fiduswriter.com/ [fiduswriter.com] ). will be usable and open source very soon, but there is a video and a beta version there already.

Re:web-based? (1)

sivo (2896187) | about a year ago | (#43442949)

I have thought of this before, but don't have the time as a grad student to commit to coding it. IT's great that others are realizing the value of this possibility. I would be really interested if as in LyX I can type in LaTeX code and have it immediately appear as mathematics: just as in coding, typesetting is most efficiently used when one has immediate feedback of results. Also ways to minimize point-and-click after a certain degree of mastery, I prefer to keep my hands on the keyboard at all times. Interoperability with various citation formats is tremendously useful (endnote, zotero, BiBTeX, etc..)

Re:web-based? (1)

johanneswilm (549816) | about a year ago | (#43445287)

hey, yes math should be typeable directly in (la)tex code. Mathjax takes care of that bit. Bibtex interoperability is built in. Zotero will be next.

Zotero Integration (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43443405)

While BibTeX is great and all, most of my fellow grad students use Zotero as our citation databases. Thanks to the ease of synchronization of both citations and files, it has replaced most other citation systems. Having a plugin capability like in LibreOffice would really make LyX the perfect tool for every dissertation being written. Sure plugins exist for using Zotero to create Bibtex files, but the beauty of LyX is in it's simplicity. Citations aren't simple with LyX/BibTeX if you need a citation format not used by the sciences. Zotero idiot proofs things for the humanities and the arts as well.

differencing, change tracking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43444707)

I wrote two papers in LyX and my dissertation in LaTeX. LyX is great, except that it, and LaTex, needs a better change tracking feature. This is one place that Ribbonville excels at, pun not intentional. Maybe add integration with SVN or Mercurial, too.

Online work and WYSIWYG layouts (1)

grep-awk-sed (2896341) | about a year ago | (#43444751)

Today online work is a minimum requirement for text editors, so LyX should support collaborative work in the same way google docs does. Hey, I wonder how hard it would be to use Google Docs API as a backend for LyX? Then you have the server infrastructure and sharing for free.

The next thing I really want to se in LyX is WYSIWYG editor for layouts. For business work, LyX is far from being usable.

Re:Online work and WYSIWYG layouts (1)

johanneswilm (549816) | about a year ago | (#43445293)

The problem with Google Docs Writer is that it's not a semantic editor. If someone would port Fidus Writer ( http://www.fiduswriter.com/ [fiduswriter.com] ) to use Google Drive as the backend for storage, you would have all of it right there on the web.

BibTeX mess (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43444773)

What I would really like to see is better integration with BibTeX. Now you really need to know what's going on and even then it's somewhat tricky. Live preview and examples instead of "you need to select Natbib (Jurabib, what...?) there and aprs.bst there and remember to add the list of references to ToC", maybe? That ToC thingy should be on by default IMO. The citation styles should also include (Norman 2002) instead of just (Norman, 2002).

LaTeX style import could always do with improvements, even if it probably can't ever be 100% compatible. Using LyX to edit a document based on a conference template would just be sooo handy.

Improved support for shared editing through, say, version control systems, would be a great thing to have. Something like Google Docs (live editing) would of course be awesome, but probably not a piece of cake to implement.

LyX used to be really fast back in the day, but now the performance has steadily got worse. Almost unusably slow with 1GHz machines. Maybe some performance tuning?

Minor bits that would probably be easy to do:
- Ready-made settings to remove orphans & widows instead of preamble hacking
- Support for automatically centering float images

Suggestion: Collaboration features (1)

fa2k (881632) | about a year ago | (#43445403)

The 1. missing feature in TeX land is collaboration features. It's not horrible -- you can split the doc into files for different sections (don't know if you can do this in LyX) and use source control or Dropbox -- but it's not particularly elegant. Just having seamless integration with source control would be great: some kind of interactive conflict handling and easy committing of all dependent resources. It could also be useful for single-user projects to have revision tracking. Perhaps the Lyx project could be a git repository by default, but I would of course prefer if it supported SVN and anything else that comes along too. Something like the SVN integration for Eclipse would be cool, but it wouldn't have to be that comprehensive. Lyx would of course still have to support stand-alone files without all the VCS mumbo jumbo.

Strike that suggestion (1)

fa2k (881632) | about a year ago | (#43445437)

The 1. missing idea from my previous post is the output format. There is no reason to have documents be a stack of pages when they are displayed on a screen. It is absolutely boneheaded. There are solutions for producing HTML from TeX source, this was the first search result: http://hutchinson.belmont.ma.us/tth/ [belmont.ma.us] . I don't know why academics keep ignoring this and keep making PDFs which are only good for printing and for displaying on large monitors. There are many small devices which are better suited for reading (e.g. on the train), and PDF papers look like crap on them ( http://ask.slashdot.org/story/12/12/01/214255/ask-slashdot-tablets-for-papers-are-we-there-yet [slashdot.org] ). The problem with HTML is that it can't be saved locally and passed around easily. Maybe EPUB can help. The page I linked has a section on how to make EPUBs. So my suggestion is to have a prominent option to output to EPUB. Strike the collaboration features, we can handle using git or SVN for a few more years.

Re:Strike that suggestion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43445933)

LyX has collaboration features. It has "change tracking" similar to word, and support for version control systems too. And yes, a document split over many files is supported. So you can write a book with several authors and a file per chapter. What more do you want in this direction?

As for output formats, LyX can output to html too, not merely PDF. So you can hand out html "to read on the train" and use the .lyx files for passing around for editing. Another trick is a PDF not broken into pages. Set a page width that works well with your portable device. Then, set the page height to 10m or so, the maximum LaTeX will handle. Then, make your "continous" PDF.

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