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RE: [seul-edu] Re: perl or......

On Mon, 4 Dec 2000, Chris Hedemark wrote:
> I saw nothing of a legitimate debate in here so I will not address the
> points that you made (or never got around to making, rather).  The "Linux
> r00lZ, everything else sux" rhetoric is tiresome, unobjective, and
> unproductive.  I can get my fill of that over at Slashdot.  Usually this
> forum is largely devoid of such banal behavior and for that I am thankful.

Ok, my last message was a bit "out-of-...",excessive.
But essentially true. Truly everyone has his preferences...
...but some tools are better than others.
Well, to give a bit of "legitimate", "objective", "non-geekly",
"unslashdotish", "SEULish" , "scholar-like" piece of discussion 
or piece of email:

1- TeX/LaTeX is not Linux-ish. TeX was born 13 years before.
TeX/LaTeX is supported (with the same degree of success) in Mac,
Unix, Windows, VMS,...

1.1- That makes TeX/LaTeX cross-platform. .dvi and .tex in general
were the "lingua franca" of typesetting. Try to work with .doc
in Linux...

1.2- Because it's long experience TeX/LaTeX has solved problems
that Word is not facing yet. For example:
1.2.1 - Bibliographies
1.2.2 - Full control of the "paper". In TeX you can write whatever,
wherever, whenever you want. Word doesn't allow it. 
1.2.3 - Intelligent control of fonts. Well, in fact, Metafont
was a pioneer in font creation. Metafont is a _world_ by itself.

2- TeX/LaTeX encourages the well known methodology of "thing first"
then "act", or the "(first what)-(then how)", or structured-non hardwiring
methodology. While Word encorages the well known methodology of:
let's go, let's go, one letter after another.

2.1 - There's no concept of "document" in TeX/LaTeX. A document
may be structured into many different files or sections within
a file before the sections are filled. That encourages logical
structured thinking, you focus in communicating what you want,
not how you want it. You can refine creating subsubsections and
filling it little by little. Leaving for the last step the 
low level stuff (colors, font types...).

2.2 - The layout of figures may be decided in the last moment
(last page, free, at the right place) just with the right macros.
Try to do the  same with Word (without Word segfaulting or
just messing all around).

3. - TeX/LaTeX docs are fully configurable. You can programm
your document, so you can adapt it to certain parameters. Of course,
you should do it in the last moment, once the content has settled.
When  I say configurable and certain parameters I mean you
can configure and parametrize _everything_.

4. - TeX/LaTeX may be meta-programmed. What's metaprogramation?
Well, in 
you have a superb example.
I simply touched the heavens. I made a tcl script/library that
generated python code that generated TeX code. That is:
tcl->python-> TeX -> ps
That means that if we call WYSIWIG level 0, the user puts the 
final "letter" and final ";" and the final "draw", 
I've been working at level 4 , 3 levels above pedestrian Windozers.
That means a huge increase of productivy, with a single line 
of tcl code I could draw a complex drawing.
Working with Word all the time you'll never taste those pleasures.
Metaprogramming means that you structure a problem/doc into level
and that all things that are common within similar structures of 
the same level are handled by the upper level, thus reducing 
redundancies and low level stuff.  I know, this is hard to understand.

5- TeX/LaTeX is an excellent drawing language. Well, gpic, xfig,
Metapost, to name a few. Excellent for automatically driven,
repetitive, reusable piece of drawings, vectorial way of thinking.
Of course, you can translate it into .gif, .jpg afterwards.
5.1- Drawings may be programm generated, extracted from scientific

6- TeX/LaTeX is much more than LaTeX. There're many poorly known
dialects, but easier to learn like StarTeX. I'd say that TeX
is more a family than a "programm". ConTexT seems good too.

7- There're hundreds, litterally, of special effects, trees,
circuit drawings, Karnaugh diagrams, chess... Try to do a Karnaugh
 diagram in Word.

8- Fonts. Although they're not as easy as in Word, you can:
8.1- Use superb quality PS fonts.
8.2- Import truetype fonts.
8.3- Magnify *limitless* any font.

9- Auxiliary tools.
9.1 Spell checkers: made by university men, far more rigorous than
9.2 Bibliography: Custom styles, standard styles.
9.3 Indexes and glossaries: More than a dozen.
9.4 Table of contents, list of figures, list of custom-figures...

10- Conversors
10.1 tex->man, tex->rtf, tex->ps , tex<->xml/sgml, ... in much
a nicer way than a .doc. When you write a .doc you know you're 
writing a .doc, when you write a .tex you know you're writing

11- Community
11.1- Mailing lists
11.2- Comp.text.tex
11.3- TeX users groups
11.4- Cheap CD's with gigas of useful typesetting stuff.

Well, enough of this. LaTeX is superior in all the above points 
to Word. There're more points , but I'm dumb to remember all of

Sure, TeX is scary at first...anything powerful is scary at first.
Should we be scared ? Should we refuge in simple, trivial, ugly
systems ? Should we give up the possibility of recover back
our power ? 

Linux and TeX are in the same line. Sure they're harder than
Winblows. But we got all power that current technology can provide us.
Any retreat towards "easy life" is a retreat in our freedom of
controlling our power.

The policy of Microsux is :
I give you simplicity you give me your freedom and power.

Once you've given up your freedom and power, you just can sit
waiting for the new version of Word (incompatible with the older 
versions and with any other thing in the world).

Just the mentioning of Word as a option of anything is outrageous.
I think. Slavery is not an option, as Rosseau proved.

BTW, did I say TeX and related stuff is free ?