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"Michel Lavaud Orleans (France)" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mailing list for the LaTeX3 project <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 25 Jun 1997 20:08:14 +0000
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Michal Jaegermann wrote:

> I think that it is important to remember that there are also whole
> communities for which TeX (and LaTeX, in particular) changed the way in
> which people are working over new results.  No, no publish, no writing
> final version of papers, but work - make notes, rewrite them many times,
> exchange them, etc.  - especially when co-workers in geographically
> dispersed places are involved.

I agree completely with Michal'point of view. In a talk I gave at
TUG's conference in Aston in 1993, I had proposed to call TeX not a
NTS system, but a NIELS (from Niels Bohr) to mean "New International
Electronic Language for Science". And  I said in the introduction
(and I still think now):

"[...] On the other hand, more and more scientists have access to
international networks, and they are now using TeX as a language in
the \emph{linguistic} sense of the  term, i.e. as a \emph{means of
communication}. This implies that TeX must remain stable in time as
much as possible, for it to be able to fulfill this communication
We suggest that keeping TeX unchanged, as desired by many users, is
not incompatible with building easy-to-use and powerful TeX-based
software, as desired by TeXperts. This can be done by improving front
ends and back ends to TeX and making them cooperate with a
multitasking OS"

Of course, I do not say it is useless to improve LaTeX. On the
contrary, improving the packages in tools, graphics, amslatex etc. is
essential. But I think it is only part of the story. Comparing
TeX/LaTeX to MSWord as Sebastian does (by the way, Corel claims
26 000 000 users of Wordperfect, where are they in the statistics?)
is irrelevant because they are not of the same nature. What is
relevant, in my opinion, is either:

1 - Comparing TeX/LaTeX to RTF ; and there LaTeX is vastly superior
for scientists, for the simple reason that there are no formulas in
RTF. They are borrowed from an external software written by a third
party, and included in MSWord through links, as PS figures are
included in LaTeX through \special's.

2 - Comparing emTeX, 4AllTeX, AsTeX, TeTeX and other freeware
TeX-based authoring tools to MSWord. And all of these are under
constant improvements, I think.

> When I have seen Sebastians question why some SGML markup is less editable
> than '\frac{a}{b}' I thought in the first moment "this guy is joking or
> inhales too deeply who knows what".  Only later I realized that he sees
> only the final stages of a science paper production so he can afford
> to be stuck in some fixed environment where he may have some specific
> editor making some hair-raising markup workable.  In "other reality" a
> very important aspect of LaTeX is that you are sending the whole text,
> or pieces of it, far away and you do not even bother to ask what your
> respondent happens to run, on what, and which particular piece of an
> editing software s/he has and likes/dislikes[...].

I agree also completely with these points.
Michel Lavaud  ([log in to unmask])