Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education Microsoft Software

MS Word 2010 Takes On TeX 674

Posted by timothy
from the math-journals-won't-be-switching-anytime-soon dept.
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?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

MS Word 2010 Takes On TeX

Comments Filter:
  • Low (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bcmm (768152) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:13PM (#28013027)
    Something usually free is already widely used.
    • Re:Low (Score:5, Informative)

      by ottothecow (600101) <ottothecowNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:24PM (#28013187) Homepage
      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 (Score:5, Informative)

        by Alinabi (464689) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:46PM (#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.

        • by itomato (91092) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:35PM (#28014221)

          People have little care or concern over what results are deemed "professional".

          There are entire books and manuals that aren't made with the "proper" tools, because most people can't comprehend why Word or Publisher don't meet the criteria for "professional" results. With Publisher, it usually takes the harsh step of producing their document, from the raw material delivered by the customer.

          "It looks fine on my Inkjet at home! Why does it look like so much dogshit on the floor?"

          With Word, it's usually "good enough" for most people, even though the outcome isn't what you or they would really like. Give a Tech Writer a copy of Word, and they may "make-do", but I doubt you'll find many who prefer it to FrameMaker, InDesign, or even Pagemaker. That same Tech Writer will churn out a document with Word, and because it's "good enough", it will fly around the Globe, and even make it out as trade conference detritus or long-lived corporate gospel.

          TeX, on the other hand, is not something most people care about learning. You *must* learn it to be able to use it confidently. There's no "good enough" with TeX - it either works, or it doesn't.

          TeX is a Science. Word is a Comedy. People like comedy.

          • by stewbacca (1033764) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:17PM (#28014867)

            There are entire books and manuals that aren't made with the "proper" tools,

            There aren't entire books that are PUBLISHED using Word and other, non-professional typesetting tools. You can't type up 50 pages and staple them together and say, "see, this book wasn't made in InDesign!"

            And not using "proper" publishing tools only makes your manuals look amateur. All things being equal, I gladly shop with the people who took a little time to do the small things right.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by LandDolphin (1202876)

              I gladly shop with the people who took a little time to do the small things right.

              That makes you a small minority, as most people shop at Wal*Mart

              Well that was my comment till i read this part again:

              All things being equal

              What does that mean? IF all things are equal, then they both did the "small things right", right? I guess im being nit picky wit hords, as it just hit me that you meant "all other things being equal".

              If all other thigns are equal, who wouldnt want the better product? The thing

            • by WillAdams (45638) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @03:23PM (#28015905) Homepage

              you said:
              >There aren't entire books that are PUBLISHED using Word and other, non-professional typesetting tools

              Sadly, that's not the case.

              The `` for Dummies'' imprint for example is done entirely in Word using a publisher-provided stylesheet --- there are others, but I can't recall the title of the one which my previous employer did for a client.

              There's even a New York phone directory (a smallish one, marketed to a specific ethnic group) which my employer prints which is formatted using Word --- I know 'cause they haven't worked out a way to do the bleed tabs, so I wrote a LaTeX file which assembles their pages and stamps them w/ the bleed tab (and if need be has options to adjust the page placement 'cause it's often inconsistent from one section to the next).

              William

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by stewbacca (1033764)
                Do the "Dummies" books take the style-sheets in Word format all the way to print, or do they use the style sheets to populate layout in something like InDesign? It would make sense to give a style sheet to a contributor who might not know the first thing about typography and layout.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Shin-LaC (1333529)
            I like TeX better than Word, but what I like about it is that it lets me concentrate on the content and obtain something that looks "good enough" (to a technical/academic audience) with minimal effort. I actually think Computer Modern looks hideous, but I just don't care.
            If I had to publish a book that actually looks good, though, neither Word nor TeX would be the right tool for the job.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Ucklak (755284)

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

          Not for professional, publication quality work.

          What do professional publishers use for copy when they don't use Quark or InDesign for layout? Of the handful of print shops I've consulted for, Quark, InDesign, and good ole PDF is all they take.

          I've witnessed/helped the migration of lawfirms from WordPerfect to MS Word in the Southeast and Southwest over the years (about a decade ago). I've never seen a law firm use any other application for doc

          • I have had to convert multi-dozen page Publisher and Word documents into 'real' formats.

            This pain comes at a price. See the 'Setup Fees' line item on your invoice. :)

            "I know you could buy your own copy of $ProTool for that price, and for the sake of our business relationship, it's what we encourage you to do."

            RIPs don't like Microsoft, no matter what kind of goofy pseudo-filter you pipe them through.

            Manual (camera) seps are an alternative, and harder to find by the year.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            Mwahahah, I had a teacher back in the university who gave instant 0 grades to those who were so lazy that they presented their papers made in Word but looked like LaTex. You can really tell the difference. I wonder if with the new version of Word, the difference is not going to be that obvious anymore.
        • ...I work at the Economics Research Institute at UNAM, Mexico's (and Latin America's) largest university. Researchers here are social scientists â" Their texts do include the ocassional formula, yes, but they mainly deal with straight text. Even so, I am painfully aware on how inconvenient a word-processor-minded program can be for them (i.e. try to get them to distinguish between cosmetic and semantic tagging â" No way). They literally use the computer as a fancy typewriter.
          I have shown LyX to a couple of people, and are initially interested, even more looking at the quality of the results... But after I mention it cannot import (with formatting) Word documents, and that they won't be able to share their works (except as an unmodifiable PDF) with other colleagues, they go back to what they already know.

          So, no, TeX is not necessarily widely used in all of academia. Just in the portion we, the computer-minded geeks, like looking at.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by afidel (530433)
            rtf2latex2e, save DOC file as RTF then pump it through that, you should end up only needing to do about 10-20% formatting work.
        • Re:Low (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:21PM (#28014947)

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

          Not for professional, publication quality work.

          Actually, yes.

          Aside for scientific papers, TeX is nonexistent in typesetting shops and publication houses. They almost all use proprietary typesetting programs (for InDesign to specialty software).

          On the other hand, Word is used by most authors (the vast majority) to turn the final draft in.

          And in some small publication houses and most vanity press type publications, Word is even used to provide the final typesetting outcome (gross, I know).

          (Lulu.com for example takes in Word files to produce your books).

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720)
      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 ju
      • Re:Low (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:29PM (#28013265) Journal

        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 (Score:5, Insightful)

        by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:53PM (#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 ....

        • Re:Low (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Abreu (173023) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:14PM (#28013967)

          You are right,

          Word is not a text editor
          Word is not a desktop publishing software
          Word is not a email client ...and yet a lot of people still use it that way!

          (and don't get me started on what some people use Excel for!)

          Why? Because they don't want to buy/download/get the correct tool for the job. And even if the correct tool for the job is easily available, they don't want to learn how to use it!

          The sad reality is that, if Word starts offering decent academic publishing features, it will overtake LaTeX in a blink... Even worse, clueless professors will start demanding that documents be submitted in .docx format!

          • by itomato (91092) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:42PM (#28014309)

            Phew - the shit I have seen crammed into a spreadsheet.. With pride.

            Any higher function than SUM should require certification.

            "You got a license for that Pivot Table, Son?"

            Features on top of features, with no real signposts to guide their implementation. Gag.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by blincoln (592401)

            And even if the correct tool for the job is easily available, they don't want to learn how to use it!

            I don't have a lot of experience with (La)TeX, but from what I can tell, using it still involves dealing with manual markup and/or using an IDE-style interface.

            That may be what professional typesetters want (although I doubt they want it as their only option), but it's definitely not what most people who aren't professional typesetters want to use.

            If I'm trying to put together documentation quickly, I care a

            • Re:Low (Score:5, Insightful)

              by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:24PM (#28015005)

              What you don't seem to understand is that LaTeX is FASTER to write up than any other system.

              Your inability to distinguish between "easy to use" and "easy to learn" marks you as a fool.

            • Re:Low (Score:5, Insightful)

              by jhfry (829244) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @04:52PM (#28017347)

              Here goes all the moderating I did on this thread, but I want to get one thing clear before it confuses anyone else.

              I have never used LaTeX, but I understand it and know why it's important, I hope that I can help you and anyone else who might be interested.

              TeX allows the content creators to create the content without knowledge of the finished formatting. If your a writer, you just write with everything left justified in a clean screen font without regard to how your creation will appear on the printed page. Sure, you might need to know a handful of basic formatting tags; a few written on an index card is enough unless your doing equations or some other complex work.

              Ultimately, the content creator is freed from concerning themselves with anything but content. This alone is a huge productivity booster!

              I think the worst thing LaTeX has going for it is that the examples provided on webpages try to show the power and not the ease of use. Below is some typical markup in LaTeX for normal text, certainly not overwhelming (from here [uiuc.edu])

              \documentstyle[12pt]{article}

              \begin{document}

              This is a sample document. I can just keep typing without regard to formatting, unless of course I want to ensure that something {\em important} is emphasized.

              \begin{myspecialtag}
              I can, as the content creator, specify blocks of text, like this one, that will later have special formatting applied. I don't worry about what that formatting will be, I just create a new label on the fly, or reuse ones I have already used or were provided by my template developer.
              \end{myspecialtag}

              The fact that I am free to just type, and only tag blocks of text for later formatting frees me from thought about what the final document will look like and keeps me focused on the content that I am creating.

              \end{document}

      • Re:Low (Score:4, Informative)

        by thsths (31372) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:06PM (#28013847)

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

        Waiting for LaTeX 3 is certainly optimistic. I think they are still working out the syntax of the language...

        But hyperlinks are working, and working well, for quite a while now.

    • I'll bid this (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Weaselmancer (533834) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:35PM (#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.

      • by robot_love (1089921) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:45PM (#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 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:56PM (#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.

      • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:32PM (#28014197) Homepage

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

        That only means you aren't using a big enough sledgehammer. Trust me, with enough force any peg can get into any hole.

        The state of the hole afterwords is a problem for the end user.

    • Re:Low (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nitroamos (261075) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:44PM (#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 (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Abreu (173023) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:29PM (#28014159)

        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

        Yes, but remember that Microsoft has gained dominance in many areas just by providing "good enough" software with the MS name.

        Lots of people considered Lotus 123 superior to MS Excel. Lots of people considered WordPerfect superior to MS Word... What happened to those markets?

        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?

        Now, think of the guy who just gets into college in 2011 and has the option of learning LaTeX or continue using MS Word, which he has already used for years to do High School papers and other stuff...
        Will he want to get on another (much steeper!) learning curve, or will he just figure out the "advanced typesetting" menus of Word 2010?

  • If it works... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by frinkster (149158) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:15PM (#28013043)

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

    How well does OpenOffice.org do this?

    • Re:If it works... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tetsujin (103070) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:29PM (#28013253) Homepage Journal

      does OpenOffice.org do this?

      Ask this question first. :)

    • Tex works ... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rs232 (849320)
      "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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Warbothong (905464)

      How well does OpenOffice.org do this?

      OpenOffice doesn't do TeX-style markup, since the sole reason for OpenOffice existing is to feel familiar for users of Microsoft Office (pre 2007), and since Word doesn't do it (yet) then neither can OOo.

      If you don't care about Microsoft Office then you're free to use anything. I use LyX ( http://www.lyx.org/ [lyx.org] ), a GUI word processor which outputs to TeX, when I'm doing large projects or anything scientific. I use Abiword ( http://www.abisource.com/ [abisource.com] ) for creating quick throwaway documents, and I use leafpad

  • Biology (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:15PM (#28013049) Journal

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

    • 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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by synthespian (563437) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:31PM (#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").

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        1) people who use excel for statistics don't know anything about statistics, so it doesn't matter - someone (the boss, the journal editor, your colleague) wanted something (error bars, ..) so you put them in. It rarely affects how people actually think (much less, are the underlying numbers suitable for a statistical treatment)
        2) at least in molecular biology (biochmemistry, immunology, nucleic acids, etc) excel is the great can opener - (a) I have maybe 10 different instruments in the lab that spit out ele

    • Re:Biology (Score:5, Informative)

      by pzs (857406) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:32PM (#28013303)

      (I've posted this before, but still)

      Yes, it is a pain [nih.gov].

  • less than low (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goffster (1104287) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:16PM (#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?

    • faulty logic. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by oneiros27 (46144) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:49PM (#28013551) Homepage

      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.

    • Re:less than low (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Abreu (173023) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:36PM (#28014247)

      Yes, the guys who need this stuff TODAY already know how to use TeX.

      The kid who will be entering college in 2011 will probably not want to learn TeX if Word can produce acceptable results

  • I'd say.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by myNameIsNotImportant (592769) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:16PM (#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.
  • Apples to Oranges (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:19PM (#28013103) Journal

    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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by WillAdams (45638) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:26PM (#28013213) Homepage

      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

      • by MikeUW (999162) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:01PM (#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).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

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

      At the risk of stating the obvious, that's probably because TeX doesn't have any advanced support for OpenType. This has been a major thorn in its side for years, because while its typography was always better than Windows 3.1 TrueType, modern professional grade fonts are pretty much all distributed as OpenType now, and the visual quality you can get with the likes of Adobe InDesign using them is substantially better than you can get from TeX unless you really have a thing for Computer Modern.

      This has start

  • Not for me (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:21PM (#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.

  • by blackchiney (556583) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:22PM (#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
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by amicusNYCL (1538833)

      Word already has the tendency of turning a basic document into a code of spaghetti when saved as HTML.

      Word actually does a pretty decent job at HTML, but not by default. The format to save a document in is "HTML (filtered)", not regular HTML. When Word uses non-filtered HTML it introduces a requirement that the file should look the same if you re-open it in Word, so it includes a metric ton of meta-data and Office-only crap in the markup so that if you open the HTML document again in Word, it looks exactly the same as when you saved it. If you choose to filter all that crap out, it might not look as pret

  • Microsoft OpenType (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rs232 (849320) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:22PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jbolden (176878)

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

  • Wrong question (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:23PM (#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 (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:35PM (#28014237)

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

      Dominates is perhaps too strong a term. I've helped several friends to get Masters/PhD theses written up using LaTeX, after they gave up on Word out of frustration. The screwed-up cross-references and so on have bitten more than one of my other friends firmly in the backside. My usual example, unfortunate as it was, was that one friend submitted her thesis written using Word, only to discover that every single cross-reference was off by a page, and nearly had it sent back as a result.

      Those friends were all studying humanities, languages and other arts subjects rather than maths or CompSci, BTW, and none of them had any difficulty using LaTeX once they'd been shown the basics for half an hour.

  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:24PM (#28013185) Journal

    And does it run on *nix?

    No? Then it's still useless to me.

  • by hahiss (696716) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:25PM (#28013189) Homepage

    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.

  • by schmidt349 (690948) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:25PM (#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.

  • Missing the Point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thethirdwheel (1291594) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:25PM (#28013205) Homepage
    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?
  • TeX vs. Office (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris_Jefferson (581445) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:30PM (#28013285) Homepage

    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 (Score:5, Informative)

      by jonbryce (703250) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:54PM (#28013659) Homepage

      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.

  • by Mr. McGibby (41471) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:38PM (#28013387) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • Problems with Word (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WillAdams (45638) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:47PM (#28013523) Homepage

    - 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)

  • by slashdotlurker (1113853) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:31PM (#28015109)
    In chemistry and many branches of engineering, Word already is more popular than LaTeX.

    In mathematics, and most branches of physics, LaTeX is much more popular than Word, and with very good reason. I have no idea of what the proposed changes are for Word 2010, but I somehow doubt that the current painful way of using the equation editor is likely to be very attractive to these practitioners. LaTeX's superior fontwork also is a major advantage that Word currently cannot match.

    The third issue is platform independence. Though versions of Word exist for Mac, Pages has come along very rapidly in the last 2-3 years, and will likely fragment the Mac market. Mac and Linux are both gaining market share (usually at the expense of Windows, and especially in academic settings), so unless Word addresses problems with the WYSIWYG method of entering equations (maybe steal some ideas from TeXMacs), and makes a concerted push on these two platforms (its non-existent on Linux), I do not see how it can make a dent in the traditional strongholds of LaTeX.

    Most journals do not accept MS 2007 submissions (even the Word friendly publishing houses), let alone MS 2010.
  • by porky_pig_jr (129948) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:37PM (#28015205)

    As I'm typing this reply, I'm taking a break from typesetting the math paper with LaTeX. So, a couple of things come to mind, immediately. First, LaTeX is 'what you mean is what you get', not 'what you see is what you get'. In LaTeX I actually *say* what I want, rather than using the GUI. Does it matter? Yes. If I need to choose some spacing (rather than letting it to default), I can make my choice precisely, and say it so (e.g., 1pt, meaning 1 point). And in general, the strongest feature of (La)TeX: you have a complete control on the layout. You can setup the formulas any way you want. Period. Next, consider the following example. You need to use greek letters. In GUI (such as MS products), you have to pull down menu, find the option greek letters, select the one you need. In LaTeX I simply type \alpha, or \beta, or whatever. And the choices of fonts I got! Mmmm So once I've tried LaTeX I simply coudln't get back to GUI-based tools. Well, I can go on and on. And the last by not least: many free integrated editors/compilers for LaTeX. My favorite is Emacs/Auctex.

    Now I'm talking about mathematicians, not 'academia' in general. If you are into some staff like philosophy or history, you'll be just fine with MS.

  • TeX isn't used... (Score:4, Informative)

    by The Cisco Kid (31490) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @09:34PM (#28020669)

    due to its ability to render funky typography. Its used because it separates the function of 'writing' from the function of 'typesetting'.

    If you want to see a better explanation, see http://ricardo.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/wp.html [wfu.edu]

Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket. -- George Orwell

Working...