Engineering Typesetting

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What do you use to typeset documents (especially math-heavy ones)

Plain TeX
1
4%
LaTeX
14
58%
MS Word
1
4%
HTML
2
8%
Pen and Paper
3
13%
Feather and Inkwell
0
No votes
Hammer and Chisel
0
No votes
Other
3
13%
 
Total votes: 24

LambdaBeta
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 8:06 pm UTC

Engineering Typesetting

Postby LambdaBeta » Thu Nov 13, 2014 5:43 pm UTC

I realized that this war isn't here yet. Which do you use to typeset engineering documents (often math heavy, but not as math heavy as we'd all like to believe)?
Basically, if you were taking notes for an engineering lecture, how would you do it?

I find that TeX is fun to use, but takes me too long.
I can't stand LaTeX because I'm a control freak. (Down with Python, C for lyfe!)
Word is okay (once you get used to the ALT+N+E+I for new equations) but it requires more mouse than would be nice, and its slow. (I don't know of any vim based word editor :P)
I actually use HTML, since Unicode has support for most formulae (though not as pretty as (La)TeX) and allows for very fast, light-weight document creation.


I would love to be convinced to switch to TeX. But I don't get why people actually like LaTeX.

Anyways, have at ye!

A note on parameters of war: I am concerned with documents that will be shared, used as a reference, etc.

EvanED
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Location: Madison, WI
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Re: Engineering Typesetting

Postby EvanED » Thu Nov 13, 2014 6:16 pm UTC

I voted Latex. Will comment later, except now just will say that I don't like it; I just hate it less than the other alternatives. :-)

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Flumble
Yes Man
Posts: 1951
Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:35 pm UTC

Re: Engineering Typesetting

Postby Flumble » Fri Nov 14, 2014 1:38 am UTC

To illustrate my usage vs understanding: I don't know whether I'm using TeX or LaTeX, but I've made a few documents recently using texworks and I'm not disappointed by the result.
Even though Word has improved a lot since 2003 in my view, in tex it is a lot more apparent which style a piece of text has, and from which styles it inherits. And you actually know what's going to happen if you cut text and paste it somewhere else —"no, Word, I don't want that as 3 italicised bullet items!"

As far as I can tell, HTML is a bit verbose, is cumbersome when it comes to formulae (unless you import js math libraries) and doesn't preview your document in pages.

lalop
Posts: 210
Joined: Mon May 23, 2011 5:29 pm UTC

Re: Engineering Typesetting

Postby lalop » Fri Nov 14, 2014 5:50 pm UTC

I would love an alternative to LaTeX, preferably one with a cleaner, more powerful language than TeX/Lua. (Alternatively, maybe I'm "doing it wrong"? I mainly use Lua to compute then tex.print templates one heavily-escaped line at a time; if there's something more elegant I ought to be doing with it, I'd like to hear of that as well.)

Speculation: org-mode? (Something I've been meaning to learn for a while but still eludes me.) How good is it for really math-heavy stuff, though, and how does the quality of its output compare to LaTeX?

HTML may work as a static format, but the lack of embeddable auto-generated content is a huge limitation. No sense in doing by hand what the computer can do for you. Additionally, embedded algorithms seem to be a must-have for reproducible research (though, in theory, you can copy/paste into your file for the same result, in practice that's just asking for errors and inconsistency between versions).

LambdaBeta wrote:I would love to be convinced to switch to TeX. But I don't get why people actually like LaTeX.
LambdaBeta wrote:I can't stand LaTeX because I'm a control freak.

That probably explains it. The blurb for the opposite approach can pretty much be quoted verbatim from the wikipedia entry:
wikipedia wrote:LaTeX follows the design philosophy of separating presentation from content, so that authors can focus on the content of what they are writing without attending simultaneously to its visual appearance. In preparing a LaTeX document, the author specifies the logical structure using simple, familiar concepts such as chapter, section, table, figure, etc., and lets the LaTeX system worry about the formatting and layout of these structures. It therefore encourages the separation of layout from content while still allowing manual typesetting adjustments where needed.

That philosophy probably works better for some people than others. Personally, I acknowledge I'm a terrible artist, so I'd rather just insert the content and have the typesetter do all the work for me. Any output that's vaguely reasonable is likely better than what I'd come up with anyway, and usually LaTeX does indeed come up with very pretty pdfs.

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hotaru
Posts: 1025
Joined: Fri Apr 13, 2007 6:54 pm UTC

Re: Engineering Typesetting

Postby hotaru » Tue Nov 18, 2014 2:59 am UTC

no troff?

Code: Select all

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isPrime n 
factorial (1) `mod== 1

mousewiz
Posts: 107
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:50 pm UTC

Re: Engineering Typesetting

Postby mousewiz » Tue Dec 23, 2014 9:08 pm UTC

Pen and paper. Two reasons:
1) Since "note taking" was the example given, I'm much more likely to look at my own paper notes than in a text (or whatever) file. Dunno why, I just am. So even if the notes are *really* text heavy, and typing would be significantly easier than hand writing, I'll still hand write.
2) Nevermind the equations... what about the diagrams and graphs etc? You really take the time to draw all that on a computer? I mean, maybe if I had a stylus to handle that I'd trade typing faster words for slower equations...

The only time I'll use something else is if it's required (formally or informally). From there, if it's pure equations, then I'll go with word because I don't have to re-remember how to use LaTeX. If it's something fancier (like an article) then I'll use LaTeX.

EvanED
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Re: Engineering Typesetting

Postby EvanED » Thu Dec 25, 2014 7:02 pm UTC

Mousewiz's response made me go back and look at the OP, and...
LambdaBeta wrote:Basically, if you were taking notes for an engineering lecture, how would you do it? ... I am concerned with documents that will be shared, used as a reference, etc.

Wait, which is it? Because those two scenarios are very different for me.

For something publication-like (interpreted somewhat broadly), like I said LaTeX is usually the least-bad alternative. But I almost wouldn't even consider it for taking notes during a lecture.

KnightExemplar
Posts: 5492
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Re: Engineering Typesetting

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Dec 26, 2014 8:32 pm UTC

I did consider LaTeX for notes at a lecture hall once. Never again.

And by that, I mean never again did I ever take notes at all. Lol. Listening to the professor with all your might is more important, and note-taking distracts me from the lecture. But notes seem to help other people, so I think it depends on what your learning style is.

I had a preference for plain TeX for submitting lab stuff. LaTeX is nice though for typesetting school reports and stuff, but in undergrad there were all sorts of margin restrictions, word count stuff and expectations that TeX was suitable for. I think if I were writing more than just a few pages to submit my homework, LaTeX would have been superior.

I've used both LaTeX and plain TeX. In the simplest of documents, I think TeX is easier to use. But once you get into the ~10 page mark or so, LaTeX is better, as the whole chapter / paragraph organization thing (and table-of-contents generation... tables and stuff) helps out a lot. I used plain TeX for homework assignments, and LaTeX for lab assignments and bigger writeups.
First Strike +1/+1 and Indestructible.

Nyktos
Posts: 138
Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 4:02 pm UTC

Re: Engineering Typesetting

Postby Nyktos » Sat Dec 27, 2014 4:56 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:And by that, I mean never again did I ever take notes at all. Lol. Listening to the professor with all your might is more important, and note-taking distracts me from the lecture. But notes seem to help other people, so I think it depends on what your learning style is.
For me the point of taking notes is to ensure that I'm actually understanding. It's similar to the principle that teaching something helps you learn it: I never copy exactly what the prof says or writes but instead try to put things in my own words, as I would explain it to someone else (who happens to have the exact same background as me). If I can do that, it probably means that I'm actually getting what the prof is saying. (And conversely, if I can't think of a slightly different way to put something, it probably means that I'm not 100% understanding the concept and I should ask for clarification on exactly what's meant.) I also try to come up with my own proofs of theorems when I can, or at least anticipate the next step in the prof's proof.

I think that trying to copy down every last thing is just bad. It's maybe useful if the prof doesn't post notes and you think you'll need to study it later, but from my experience it invovles spending too much time writing and not enough time actually thinking about what you're writing. Since you're just copying, you don't actually need to understand it. LaTeXing notes sounds like an even worse version of this since getting it correct requires much more effort than simply writing.

I guess I didn't really mean to put two paragraphs of Opinions about note-taking, oops. On the actual topic I like LaTeX for homework and things, though I'm in math and not engineering. I saw a study which purported to show that even novice Word users make fewer mistakes and get things done faster than relatively experienced LaTeX users, but I find it really hard to imagine that that applies to math, especially when some of the more esoteric notation comes up. (I haven't actually used Word in a number of years, though.)


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