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1,745 reputation

Raoul Kessels

I started using LaTeX in 91 to write my final report to obtain my degree in Chemistry. At that time LaTeX was on one 5 1/4 floppy and the docs on another one. No hard drive, no GUI, no internet, no USB…, and half an hour to compile one hundred pages. You could also not insert external images, so a load of \vspace’s were inserted to place all the molecules and reactions drawn in another (very primitive) program. After that, I tried to write some macros to draw molecules with lots of templates using \multiput’s.

It really did not work out but, when I opened that file in a fresh downloaded LaTeX in 2007, the output was exactly the same as 15 years earlier. That is something that did not happen with commercial programs. Make a document, fix the layout, update the program and then change the layout again to get the same output. And that for all the documents written in the old version. This is, from my point of view, one of the greatest strengths of LaTeX and the Open Source programs in general: they are much more long-lived then the commercial equivalents.

However, when I tried to write my first document starting with \documentstyle, it did not compile, so I read “The not so short…”. After seeing that you could include images, output in pdf, etc. and especially when Tobias Oetiker addressed me to draw graphs with Tikz instead of using the cumbersome \multiput's, I again started using LaTeX, now for almost everything. Unfortunately, I do not know anybody in person who uses LaTeX and very few who even know about it.

I took the photograph of the terrestrial orchid of my profile in our village. More of that can be found here (not made in LaTeX, however).

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