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Is TeX a good idea for my current situation?

I'm currently maintaining documentation for a piece of software, so I came up with my own .doc template with the official company header/footer. Since software changes sometimes (shocking!) documentation needs to be updated frequently. As a developer I'm maintaining my documentation on source control and sometimes it would be interesting to be able to rapidly see what changes between two versions of the same document. I know TeX is maintained as clear text so it would make this comparison very easy. I'm also hoping to spend more time writing and less time fighting with my text editor.

Some points to consider:

  • I would like to keep the document look as close as possible to the current one (somewhat image heavy if I compare it to most document that I know were created with TeX)
  • I am not the only developer and some probably never heard of TeX
  • I'm starting from scratch and don't have a lot of hours to spend on document formatting (is that realistic?)
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Welcome to TeX.sx! It's great that you obviously checked out this site thoroughly first and noticed that we like to have one question per post. In your case, I recommend reducing your post to question no. 1 because the others have been asked before. Here are some questions that might be interesting for you: tex.stackexchange.com/q/11/4012, tex.stackexchange.com/q/4420/4012, meta.tex.stackexchange.com/q/1595, tex.stackexchange.com/q/49/4012, tex.stackexchange.com/q/6776/4012 –  doncherry Aug 29 '11 at 17:09
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Lets make this about question 1: IMO it is a good idea to switch to latex. As you already said: LaTeX files will work smoothly with your versioning system. In my experience people with a basic understanding of computer programming have an easy start with LaTeX, because they are not intimidated by the concept of a function or some braces. To get a consistent look throughout your entire documents you will define your own functions, which makes the writing for your colleagues even easier. However, it might be a little be tricky to copy the look of the old .doc a hundred percent, but go for it! –  0x6d64 Aug 29 '11 at 17:36
    
@Doncherry Thanks a lot for sharing the links, the quick search I did gave me many "tutorial about X aspect of Tex", guess I should have searched a bit more but youre linked pointed me right where I wanted to go. I've also edited my question. –  Benoittr Aug 29 '11 at 21:19
    
@0x6d64 How much of an hassle can it be to create a document template (graphical front page, and header/footer)? Having used InDesign slightly in a past life I was kind of hoping that I could isolate content entirely from container and have a lot of flexibility over the container. –  Benoittr Aug 29 '11 at 21:21
    
@Benoittr: for a start, I found these answers: tex.stackexchange.com/questions/20109/… I myself did no graphics in headers or footers so far. –  0x6d64 Aug 30 '11 at 6:25

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I would like to keep the document look as close as possible to the current one (somewhat image heavy if I compare it to most document that I know were created with TeX)

I was in the same situation in the past, when I wanted to replace PowerPoint with beamer. My biggest problem was to implement the usage the same font.

For the layout I used a little trick: I stored an empty Powerpoint page as pdf and used it as background in my LaTeX-document. The I played to fit my text in the free areas.

Maybe this saves some time for you if you try to get the same layout.

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This sounds like it can make everything easier. I'll give it a try. –  Benoittr Aug 30 '11 at 13:35

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