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Re: Latex, Mathematica, and journals

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  • Subject: [mg109781] Re: Latex, Mathematica, and journals
  • From: Murray Eisenberg <murray at>
  • Date: Mon, 17 May 2010 07:11:35 -0400 (EDT)

There is a sort of WYSIWYG interface for LaTeX: the cross-platform LyX. 
  It's really a whole new document processing system that provides a 
front end to LaTeX as the underlying typesetting engine (and allows 
direct entry of LaTeX mark-up).  Which means you'd have to learn a whole 
lot of new ways of doing things.  Win some, lose some.

By its very nature, LaTeX cannot be a true WYSIWIG system. Its design 
requires that you enter mark-up code that then is processed by the TeX 
engine itself to produce typeset output.  And that engine has to digest 
much, or all, of the input in order to figure out where to break lines, 
how much extra space to slip in between words or characters, how much 
extra space to insert between lines to fill out the page, and where to 
break pages.

Another impediment to WYSIWYG is that many if not most LaTeX users rely 
upon loading packages, from the very common amsmath to specialized 
packages for changing layouts and formats of headers/footers, allowing 
multiple columns within parts of the document, etc.; such packages are 
typically controlled by one or even many separate options you specify 
when you load the package.  (There's a whole large book devoted just to 
such packages, "The LaTeX Companion".) So how could a LaTeX front end 
know about all such packages? And how could it implement their use 
through WYSIWIG methods?

Two things towards WYSIWYG for LaTeX are possible:  (1) A front end that 
helps you create the necessary mark-up; and (2) a really fast viewer 
that typesets as you proceed (but necessarily must change the output as 
more of the document is created) and from which you can readily do 
reverse-search from the typeset view back to the .tex source.

There are a couple of front ends that make writing and processing LaTeX 
much easier for somebody who's not using it all the time. They combine 
palette-driven input of math structures and symbols along with 
menu-driven structuring of the document, yet introduce no new paradigms 
(such as the ones for LyX).  The cross-platform Texmaker is one such. 
For Windows, there's TeXnicCenter (part of the proTeXt bundle built upon 
the MiKTeX distribution), and WinEdt (which can interface to MiKTeX, TeX 
Live, and Y & Y TeX).  For Mac OS-X there's TeXShop (with the MacTeX 
bundle built upon the TeX Live distribution).  Viewing speeds after 
typesetting varies with these front ends.  All can do reverse-search.

For Windows, too, there's the proprietary BaKoMa system, which provides 
essentially synchronized viewing of source as you typeset and even 
allows you to type text directly into the viewer window. Aside from LyX, 
this is probably the closest you can come today to WYSIWYG for LaTEX.

On the Mac, for sheer speed of essentially simultaneous typesetting and 
viewing, nothing can touch proprietary Blue Sky "Textures". However, I 
believe Textures although as far as I can recall, it included no editor 
with the kind of palettes and structuring menus common to the front ends 
mentioned above. Moreover, there seems to have been no further 
development of Textures in the last few years, and I don't know whether 
it works with current OS-X or is kept up to date with current TeX 

On 5/16/2010 5:56 AM, S. B. Gray wrote:
> Can anyone tell me why there is no WYSIWYG interface for Latex?
> Any time I want to publish a paper I have to relearn it again, since I
> publish rarely.
> I would gladly use MS Word if the math journals would accept it.
> And is there any movement to accepting Mathematica output, properly formatted?
> Steve Gray

Murray Eisenberg                     murray at
Mathematics & Statistics Dept.
Lederle Graduate Research Tower      phone 413 549-1020 (H)
University of Massachusetts                413 545-2859 (W)
710 North Pleasant Street            fax   413 545-1801
Amherst, MA 01003-9305

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