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123

I do not know of LaTeX ever having any disandvantages as compared to Word over the years, other than Word had more funding, so I will only comment on the new (killer) features where Word can't keep up. Macros - been there from day one, include here hundreds of new packages. PGF/TikZ XeTeX and LuaTeX, ConTeXt Microtype The ability to exercise your ...


109

this is not about any improvements in (la)tex. it is only about stability. it is very likely that an article created (and published) in 2000 in latex can be re-used directly today in a volume of "collected works", whereas such an article created at the same time in word will most likely require considerably more work, possibly even rekeying. mathematics ...


106

Some words on the topic of free and paid software, from the mouths of the original creators: Donald Knuth, the creator of TeX, from this interview (by Advogato aka Raph Levien) (republished in TUGboat): Advogato: The first questions that I have are about free software. TeX was one of the first big projects that was released as free software and had a ...


99

The main reason I gave up Word for LaTeX is so that I could keep all of my documents under version control. You could argue that I could do the same thing with a .docx file, but Git likes .tex just fine, and I can do all the usual cool Git tricks as well.


95

It depended on the available hardware. My first tries with TeX were on a VT-100 terminal and the only "previewer" was dvi2tty. Just for fun, here's what could be shown on the terminal with it \documentclass{article} \usepackage{lipsum} \begin{document} \lipsum*[1] \[ \sum_{k=0}^{n} k^2 = \frac{1}{6}n(n+1)(2n+1) \] \lipsum[2] \end{document} Actually the ...


93

The main advantage I see with LaTeX is that everything's in the open. You can ask a question, like on StackExchange, by quoting straightforward text, and you get an answer in straightforward text rather than "try clicking this menu and that, oh, in Windows 7 this may be in a different ribbon and they self-organize anyway". Word help tends to work better ...


92

actually, there was setting of math with computers before tex. very specialized, and usually quite expensive. in what follows, "symbol" is used to mean either a letter of some alphabet, a digit, or some other shape. there are several phases in the history of math composition: hand-set type -- anything before the late 1800s. monotype -- several patents ...


86

I started using TeX in 1987 on SunBSD (later sunos later solaris) using the dviview previewer from the vortex project. That is still one of the best viewers around, you could select individual characters ask what font they were in, and the rendering was as good as the (monochrome) screen could handle. This wasn't the setup I had but from a vortex project ...


85

(I don't have good-quality images, so as it stands this answer may be more misleading than helpful. Will need to replace with proper images.) The short answer is that you can find a (brief) comparison in Chapter 1 of the book Digital Typography. This chapter is a cleaned-up version of his Kyoto Prize Lecture. And to cut to the chase, here's something that ...


84

Let's break down the list first; Nowadays Word doesn't have a binary format anymore, the files are just zipped xml files This sounds as if it is a good thing. Word is capable of automatic equation numbering, index generation, table of contents and so on I wish. The gist is there but if you really want to use it on long documents, ...


78

One of the more coherent and influential documents advocating free software was Richard Stallman's GNU Manifesto written in 1985, revised 1987. TeX and LaTeX come from around the same time (TeX in its present form from 1982, LaTeX from around 85 and latex2e from 1993). LaTeX isn't GPL and we probably don't make the same black and white moral/amoral ...


68

As a bit of history: Don told me at one point that he did chose Wells Fargo Bank for this because they had such nice checks at the time (with a carriage drawn by four horses - see picture) and that he therefore hoped most people would put the checks on the wall rather than cashing them: These days I think they are no longer that beautiful, but I haven't ...


63

The TeX error log lists the people who have reported bugs that resulted in changes to TeX the program. I assume they all have cheques generic/knuth/errata/errorlog.pdf or just use the command texdoc errorlog in TeX Live at least.


52

OK. I was officially the first TeX user in Imperial College, London, using it to write my PhD thesis. Malcolm Clark was the one person in Computer Centre who supported TeX. I bought Knuth's "TeX and Metafont" in 1983, and used a buggy implementation on the College mainframe. There was no preview, and there were no laser printers. I wrote the files at home ...


49

TeX and Metafont are academic works indirectly paid by Knuth's employer as part of his normal work, and Knuth needed these tools to produce his academic books and articles.. (His standards are just much higher than for most of the rest of us). The academic tradition is that you share your stuff, to help your peers achieve even more. Knuth explicitly put ...


48

TeX was rewritten in Pascal. Actually, using a literate programming system called WEB, invented by Knuth himself. This system uses Pascal for the programming and it uses TeX for the documentation. The source code of TeX was published as a book: http://www.amazon.com/Computers-Typesetting-B-TeX-Program/dp/0201134373.


48

I'd rather quote Knuth himself (The TeXbook, page 1): English words like "technology" stem from a Greek root beginning with the letters τεχ...; and this same Greek word means art as well as technology. Hence the name TeX, which is an uppercase form of τεχ. Insiders pronounce the χ of TeX as a Greek chi, not as an "x", so that TeX rhymes with ...


47

“Design” is a loaded term. Knuth knowingly and intentionally copied the metal font Monotype Modern 8A, which was the font used to set the first edition of volumes 1-3 of The Art of Computer Programming. He described the procedure he started with in his lecture on receiving the Kyoto Prize — see especially page 6, near the top. (A google search for “knuth ...


47

High level decisions Two major improvements of the last ten years: The large packages (KOMAscript, memoir, pstricks, TiKz, e.g.) matured. The major improvement wasn't the definition of hundreds of new commands or subpackages. The major improvement was the development of high level commands which made writing in LaTeX less »programming while writing«. Users ...


46

The glyph makes much more sense visually when seen as a ligature of long s and round s, one of the two traditional forms of the ß (the other, of course, being long s and z). Here's a comparison, using outlines from cm-unicode, version 0.6.3a: Here I've used f as a reference for the first part of the ligature, since I couldn't find a long s in cm-unicode. So ...


44

Word has two big ‘advantages’ over LaTeX: The ability to (a) let you smash together terrible looking documents in minutes, and (b) totally distract you from the content of the document (the text) when you try to correct the mess. Well, this was not about the improvements of LaTeX. The biggest improvement in LaTeX the last years, is the much better ...


43

Most of the greatest recent advantages of LaTeX have been mentioned, but I want to highlight the fact that XeTeX and LuaTeX are among the best systems for multi-lingual documents. In my line of work, I have found that the only truly reliable way of composing documents in different languages, scripts and even dialects is with recent TeX engines and the ...


41

TeX is written in WEB (a literate programming language created by D. E. Knuth). Originally, WEB source was translated into Pascal (a subset of Pascal) via tangle to produce executable and translated into TeX via weave to produce documentation of the code. Both programs have themselves been written in WEB. Today, TeXLive uses web2c to translate directly WEB ...


37

I think the comments above make as good an answer as any would so I've taken the liberty of assembling them into a single CW answer. The TeX lion was designed for the illustrations of the first TeXBook. Duane Bibby is the artist. He describes the genesis of the idea in a 2006 interview this way: Q: How did the lion motif come about? A: ...


34

Fixing it would have mostly disadvantages. Firstly for any serious math use you probably want amsmath anyway, that adds far more than a better eqnarray and if you are loading amsmath and not using eqnarray then fixing it has no benefit. eqnarray has been the way it is for 30 years and the main thing wrong with it is over-wide spacing around the = in that ...


34

The function you mention has a name consisting of three parts: cs, set and eq. cs is the “module name”: the function deals with functions (for definitions and things alike); cs stands for “control sequence”, probably it's not the best name, but it's too late for changing it. set is the main action type, of whice there are basically two, new and set: the ...


34

Underscores \csSetEq wouldn't work: for such basic, internal commands you need names that a normal user can't accidental overwrite. That's why internal LaTeX2e commands have @ and context uses ! and also underscores: \c_anch_sidebars_current \c!bottomoffset. expl3 couldn't use @ as it could to easily clash with existing commands and packages and from the ...


33

We are comparing the incomparable. Word is a user interface for creating documents and TeX is a language for typesetting. We can say that Word is something like Lyx, but it means that the most important aspect is the user interface. Word generates a special XML language. But the TeX language is much more flexible than this XML. And very important is that the ...


32

On 13 March 1996, Don Knuth met with members of the Dutch TeX group (NTG) for a Q&A session. During this session several questions came up that alluded to troff. The transcript of the entire Q&A session appears in TUGboat 17:4, pp.342-355, with the immediately relevant material starting on p.348. But the underlying philosophy is laid out in the ...


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