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Bigger doesn't imply better. Bigger often is a sign of obesity, of lost control, of overcomplexity, of cancerous cells

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The basis for comparison of quality should probably be MS Word 2007, which is affordable program with high quality grammar checker.  Its grammar checkers does useful job and in case of HTML does not mangle HTML too bad.

Online Grammarly grammar Checker  is probably the best, but is is an online service that is quite expensive.  Other products that I tested are either inferior with MS Word or at best are close.


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NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[Sep 19, 2018] Convert files at the command line with Pandoc by Kiko Fernandez-Reyes

Notable quotes:
"... Wine Management System ..."
"... This does not work ..."
"... not a good solution ..."
Sep 14, 2018 | opensource.com

In plain English, Pandoc allows you to convert a bunch of files from one markup language into another one. Typical examples include converting a Markdown file into a presentation, LaTeX, PDF, or even ePub.

This article will explain how to produce documentation in multiple formats from a single markup language (in this case Markdown) using Pandoc. It will guide you through Pandoc installation, show how to create several types of documents, and offer tips on how to write documentation that is easy to port to other formats. It will also explain the value of using meta-information files to create a separation between the content and the meta-information (e.g., author name, template used, bibliographic style, etc.) of your documentation.

Installation and requirements

Pandoc is installed by default in most Linux distributions. This tutorial uses pandoc-2.2.3.2 and pandoc-citeproc-0.14.3. If you don't intend to generate PDFs, those two packages are enough. However, I recommend installing texlive as well, so you have the option to generate PDFs.

To install these programs on Linux, type the following on the command line:

sudo apt-get install pandoc pandoc-citeproc texlive

You can find installation instructions for other platforms on Pandoc's website.

I highly recommend installing pandoc-crossref , a "filter for numbering figures, equations, tables, and cross-references to them." The easiest option is to download a prebuilt executable , but you can install it from Haskell's package manager, cabal, by typing:

cabal update
cabal install pandoc-crossref

Consult pandoc-crossref's GitHub repository if you need additional Haskell installation information .

Some examples

I'll demonstrate how Pandoc works by explaining how to produce three types of documents:

Create a website with math formulas

One of the ways Pandoc excels is displaying math formulas in different output file formats. For instance, let's generate a website from a LaTeX document (named math.tex) containing some math symbols (written in LaTeX).

The math.tex document looks like:

% Pandoc math demos

$a^2 + b^2 = c^2$

$v(t) = v_0 + \frac{1}{2}at^2$

$\gamma = \frac{1}{\sqrt{1 - v^2/c^2}}$

$\exists x \forall y (Rxy \equiv Ryx)$

$p \wedge q \models p$

$\Box\diamond p\equiv\diamond p$

$\int_{0}^{1} x dx = \left[ \frac{1}{2}x^2 \right]_{0}^{1} = \frac{1}{2}$

$e^x = \sum_{n=0}^\infty \frac{x^n}{n!} = \lim_{n\rightarrow\infty} (1+x/n)^n$

Convert the LaTeX document into a website named mathMathML.html by entering the following command:

pandoc math.tex -s --mathml  -o mathMathML.html

The flag -s tells Pandoc to generate a standalone website (instead of a fragment, so it will include the head and body HTML tags), and the –mathml flag forces Pandoc to convert the math in LaTeX to MathML, which can be rendered by modern browsers.

pandoc_math-formulas.png Math formulas

Take a look at the website result and the code ; the code repository contains a Makefile to make things even simpler.

Make a Reveal.js slideshow

It's easy to generate simple presentations from a Markdown file using Pandoc. The slides contain top-level slides and nested slides underneath. The presentation can be controlled from the keyboard, and you can jump from one top-level slide to the next top-level slide or show the nested slides on a per-top-level basis. This structure is typical in HTML-based presentation frameworks.

Let's create a slide document named SLIDES (see the code repository ). First, add the slides' meta-information (e.g., title, author, and date) prepended by the % symbol:

% Case Study
% Kiko Fernandez Reyes
% Sept 27, 2017

More Great Content

This meta-information also creates the first slide. To add more slides, declare top-level slides using Markdown heading H1 (line 5 in the example below, heading 1 in Markdown , designated by # ).

For example, if we want to create a presentation with the title Case Study that starts with a top-level slide titled Wine Management System , write:

% Case Study
% Kiko Fernandez Reyes
% Sept 27, 2017

# Wine Management System

To put content (such as slides that explain a new management system and its implementation) inside this top-level section, use a Markdown header H2. Let's add two more slides (lines 7 and 14 below, heading 2 in Markdown , designated by ## ):

% Case Study
% Kiko Fernandez Reyes
% Sept 27, 2017

# Wine Management System

## <img src="img/SwissFlag.png" style="vertical-align:middle"/> Idea

## Implementation

We now have a top-level slide ( # Wine Management System ) that contains two slides ( ## Idea and ## Implementation ).

Let's put some content in these two slides using incremental bulleted lists by creating a Markdown list prepended by the symbol > . Continuing from above, add two items in the first slide (lines 9–10 below) and five items in the second slide (lines 16–20):

% Case Study
% Kiko Fernandez Reyes
% Sept 27, 2017

# Wine Management System

## <img src="img/SwissFlag.png" style="vertical-align:middle"/> Idea

>- Swiss love their **wine** and cheese
>- Create a *simple* wine tracker system

![](img/matterhorn.jpg)

## Implementation

>- Bottles have a RFID tag
>- RFID reader (emits and read signal)
>- **Raspberry Pi**
>- **Server (online shop)**
>- Mobile app

We added an image of the Matterhorn mountain. Your slides can be improved by using plain Markdown or adding plain HTML.

To generate the slides, Pandoc needs to point to the Reveal.js library, so it must be in the same folder as the SLIDES file. The command to generate the slides is:

pandoc -t revealjs -s --self-contained SLIDES \
-V theme =white -V slideNumber = true -o index.html pandoc_matterhorn-slide.png Reveal.js slide with Matterhorn

The above Pandoc command uses the following flags:

To make things simpler and avoid typing this long command, create the following Makefile:

all: generate

generate:
pandoc -t revealjs -s --self-contained SLIDES \
-V theme=white -V slideNumber=true -o index.html

clean: index.html
rm index.html

.PHONY: all clean generate

You can find all the code in this repository .

Make a multi-format contract

Let's say you are preparing a document and (as things are nowadays) some people want it in Microsoft Word format, others use free software and would like an ODT, and others need a PDF. You do not have to use OpenOffice nor LibreOffice to generate the DOCX or PDF file. You can create your document in Markdown (with some bits of LaTeX if you need advanced formatting) and generate any of these file types.

As before, begin by declaring the document's meta-information (title, author, and date):

% Contract Agreement for Software X
% Kiko Fernandez-Reyes
% August 28th, 2018

Then write the document in Markdown (and add LaTeX if you require advanced formatting). For example, create a table that needs fixed separation space (declared in LaTeX with \hspace{3cm} ) and a line where a client and a contractor should sign (declared in LaTeX with \hrulefill ). After that, add a table written in Markdown.

Here's what the document will look like:

pandoc_agreement.png

The code to create this document is:

% Contract Agreement for Software X
% Kiko Fernandez-Reyes
% August 28th, 2018

...

### Work Order

\begin{table}[h]
\begin{tabular}{ccc}
The Contractor & \hspace{3cm} & The Customer \\
& & \\
& & \\
\hrulefill & \hspace{3cm} & \hrulefill \\
%
Name & \hspace{3cm} & Name \\
& & \\
& & \\
\hrulefill & \hspace{3cm} & \hrulefill \\
...
\end{tabular}
\end{table}

\vspace{1cm}

+--------------------------------------------+----------+-------------+
| Type of Service | Cost | Total |
+:===========================================+=========:+:===========:+
| Game Engine | 70.0 | 70.0 |
| | | |
+--------------------------------------------+----------+-------------+
| | | |
+--------------------------------------------+----------+-------------+
| Extra: Comply with defined API functions | 10.0 | 10.0 |
| and expected returned format | | |
+--------------------------------------------+----------+-------------+
| | | |
+--------------------------------------------+----------+-------------+
| **Total Cost** | | **80.0** |
+--------------------------------------------+----------+-------------+

To generate the three different output formats needed for this document, write a Makefile:

DOCS=contract-agreement.md

all: $(DOCS)
pandoc -s $(DOCS) -o $(DOCS:md=pdf)
pandoc -s $(DOCS) -o $(DOCS:md=docx)
pandoc -s $(DOCS) -o $(DOCS:md=odt)

clean:
rm *.pdf *.docx *.odt

.PHONY: all clean

Lines 4–7 contain the commands to generate the different outputs.

If you have several Markdown files and want to merge them into one document, issue a command with the files in the order you want them to appear. For example, when writing this article, I created three documents: an introduction document, three examples, and some advanced uses. The following tells Pandoc to merge these files together in the specified order and produce a PDF named document.pdf.

pandoc -s introduction.md examples.md advanced-uses.md -o document.pdf
Templates and meta-information

Writing a complex document is no easy task. You need to stick to a set of rules that are independent from your content, such as using a specific template, writing an abstract, embedding specific fonts, and maybe even declaring keywords. All of this has nothing to do with your content: simply put, it is meta-information.

Pandoc uses templates to generate different output formats. There is a template for LaTeX, another for ePub, etc. These templates have unfulfilled variables that are set with the meta-information given to Pandoc. To find out what meta-information is available in a Pandoc template, type:

pandoc -D FORMAT

For example, the template for LaTeX would be:

pandoc -D latex

Which outputs something along these lines:

$if(title)$
\title{$title$$if(thanks)$\thanks{$thanks$}$endif$}
$endif$
$if(subtitle)$
\providecommand{\subtitle}[1]{}
\subtitle{$subtitle$}
$endif$
$if(author)$
\author{$for(author)$$author$$sep$ \and $endfor$}
$endif$
$if(institute)$
\providecommand{\institute}[1]{}
\institute{$for(institute)$$institute$$sep$ \and $endfor$}
$endif$
\date{$date$}
$if(beamer)$
$if(titlegraphic)$
\titlegraphic{\includegraphics{$titlegraphic$}}
$endif$
$if(logo)$
\logo{\includegraphics{$logo$}}
$endif$
$endif$

\begin{document}

As you can see, there are title , thanks , author , subtitle , and institute template variables (and many others are available). These are easily set using YAML metablocks. In lines 1–5 of the example below, we declare a YAML metablock and set some of those variables (using the contract agreement example above):

---
title: Contract Agreement for Software X
author: Kiko Fernandez-Reyes
date: August 28th, 2018
---

(continue writing document as in the previous example)

This works like a charm and is equivalent to the previous code:

% Contract Agreement for Software X
% Kiko Fernandez-Reyes
% August 28th, 2018

However, this ties the meta-information to the content; i.e., Pandoc will always use this information to output files in the new format. If you know you need to produce multiple file formats, you better be careful. For example, what if you need to produce the contract in ePub and in HTML, and the ePub and HTML need specific and different styling rules?

Let's consider the cases:

pandoc -s -V css =style-epub.css document.md document.epub
pandoc -s -V css =style-html.css document.md document.html

My opinion is that it is easy to overlook these variables from the command line, especially when you need to set tens of these (which can happen in complex documents). Now, if you put them all together under the same roof (a meta.yaml file), you only need to update or create a new meta-information file to produce the desired output. You would then write:

pandoc -s meta-pub.yaml document.md document.epub
pandoc -s meta-html.yaml document.md document.html

This is a much cleaner version, and you can update all the meta-information from a single file without ever having to update the content of your document.

Wrapping up

With these basic examples, I have shown how Pandoc can do a really good job at converting Markdown documents into other formats.

[Jul 29, 2018] FreeOffice Suite Is Almost Blue Ribbon-Worthy Reviews LinuxInsider

Notable quotes:
"... The File tab ribbon provides commands to open, close, save/save as/save all, epub export, PDF export, print options and access properties for the file. The Options and Customize buttons display settings panels. ..."
Jul 29, 2018 | www.linuxinsider.com

SoftMaker's FreeOffice 2018 Linux office suite is a high-end product that provides performance and compatibility with Microsoft Office and other office suites.

FreeOffice 2018, released this spring, is a free version that is nearly identical to the features and user interface of Softmaker's commercial flagship office suite, SoftMaker Office 2018. I recently reviewed the beta commercial version . The FreeOffice line is distributed under the Mozilla Public License.

The Germany-based software developer offers an impressive and very usable line of open source and commercial products. The FreeOffice 2018/SoftMaker Office 2018 products are Windows/Linux cross-platform applications with integrated modules for word processing (TextMaker), spreadsheets (PlanMaker) and presentations (Presentations).

If you are thinking, "Gee, why not keep the Maker moniker consistent by calling it 'SlideMaker'?" I totally agree.

Office suite compatibility is one of the major selling/rejecting points when consumers and enterprises consider migrating to the Linux OS. The Linux OS has its share of free lightweight word processors and a few worthy standalone spreadsheet apps. Generally, Linux office suites lack a really solid slide presentation creation tool, however.

Many of the Linux word processing packages are little more than glorified text editors. Graphics compatibility in page design are often their fail point. That trend has been changing for the better with applications such as SoftMaker's FreeOffice, The Document Foundation's LibreOffice and Ascensio System SIA's recently released free office suite upgrade OnlyOffice Desktop Editors, which I recently reviewed .

The FreeOffice 2018 suite has much to offer. It is a capable alternative to its commercial upgrade. It poses little trouble reading and writing to other document formats such as .docx, pptx, xlsx and provides very accurate page rendering when importing/exporting file formats. Except for the ability to save as earlier MS Office document formats, all that is missing from the SoftMaker commercial edition are a few dictionary-based and related tools.

The File tab ribbon provides commands to open, close, save/save as/save all, epub export, PDF export, print options and access properties for the file. The Options and Customize buttons display settings panels.

[Mar 27, 2018] Top Linux tools for writers by Adam Worth

Mar 23, 2018 | opensource.com
These easy-to-use open source apps can help you sharpen your writing skills, research more efficiently, and stay organized. If you've read my article about how I switched to Linux , then you know that I'm a superuser. I also stated that I'm not an "expert" on anything. That's still fair to say. But I have learned many helpful things over the last several years, and I'd like to pass these tips along to other new Linux users.

Today, I'm going to discuss the tools I use when I write. I based my choices on three criteria:

  1. My main writing tool must be compatible for any publisher when I submit stories or articles.
  2. The software must be quick and simple to use.
  3. Free is good.

There are some wonderful all-in-one free solutions, such as:

  1. bibisco
  2. Manuskript
  3. oStorybook

However, I tend to get lost and lose my train of thought when I'm trying to find information, so I opted to go with multiple applications that suit my needs. Also, I don't want to be reliant on the internet in case service goes down. I set these programs up on my monitor so I can see them all at once.

Consider the following tools suggestions -- everyone works differently, and you might find some other app that better fits the way you work. These tools are current to this writing:

Word processor

LibreOffice 6.0.1 . Until recently, I used WPS , but font-rendering problems (Times New Roman was always in bold format) nixed it. The newest version of LibreOffice adapts to Microsoft Office very nicely, and the fact that it's open source ticks the box for me.

Thesaurus More Linux resources Artha gives you synonyms, antonyms, derivatives, and more. It's clean-looking and fast. Type the word "fast," for example, and you'll get the dictionary definition as well as the other options listed above. Artha is a huge gift to the open source community, and more people should try it as it seems to be one of those obscure little programs. If you're using Linux, install this application now. You won't regret it. Note-taking

Zim touts itself as a desktop wiki, but it's also the easiest multi-level note-taking app you'll find anywhere. There are other, prettier note-taking programs available, but Zim is exactly what I need to manage my characters, locations, plots, and sub-plots.

Submission tracking

I once used a proprietary piece of software called FileMaker Pro , and it spoiled me. There are plenty of database applications out there, but in my opinion the easiest one to use is Glom . It suits my needs graphically, letting me enter information in a form rather than a table. In Glom, you create the form you need so you can see relevant information instantly (for me, digging through a spreadsheet table to find information is like dragging my eyeballs over shards of glass). Although Glom no longer appears to be in development, it remains relevant.

Research

I've begun using StartPage.com as my default search engine. Sure, Google can be one of your best friends when you're writing. But I don't like how Google tracks me every time I want to learn about a specific person/place/thing. So I use StartPage.com instead; it's fast and does not track your searches. I also use DuckDuckGo.com as an alternative to Google.

Other tools

Chromium Browser is an open source version of Google Chrome , with privacy plugins.

Though Thunderbird , from Mozilla , is a great program, I find Geary a much quicker and lighter email app. For more on open source email apps, read Jason Baker 's excellent article, Top 6 open source desktop email clients .

As you might have noticed, my taste in apps tends to merge the best of Windows, MacOS, and the open source Linux alternatives mentioned here. I hope these suggestions help you discover helpful new ways to compose (thank you, Artha!) and track your written works.

Happy writing!

[Jul 20, 2017] http://www.gutenberg.org/files/22577/22577-h/22577-h.htm

Jul 20, 2017 | www.gutenberg.org
PRACTICAL GRAMMAR
AND COMPOSITION

BY

THOMAS WOOD, A.M., LL.B.
THE BRADDOCK (PENNSYLVANIA) HIGH SCHOOL

D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
NEW YORK CHICAGO

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/45814/45814-h/45814-h.htm

[Jan 30, 2017] It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. There are larger issues like how do you prepare your graphs and images? We need to talk about particular publishing ecosystem

Jan 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
cm -> Chris G ... Reply Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 12:21 AM

, January 29, 2017 at 12:21 AM
The comparison comes 20 years late. In the 90's, MS Word was unsuitable for academic and scientific writing, period. Even for short documents like a conference or term paper. It was geared entirely to corporate users. In addition it was riddled with bugs and layout "quirks".

In reality, you also have to fiddle with Latex, and in the 90's embedding images was big PITA.

What I did not see in the comparison is price. I suppose one would need to compare legally-owned copies of one product vs. the other.

It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images? Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem".

Academia is a highly collaborative venture, and one has to consider overall cost and productivity.

Today there is PDF as a pretty established (readonly) document format, back in the day the standard in academia was Postscript.

Chris G -> cm... , January 29, 2017 at 06:35 AM

>In the 90's, MS Word was unsuitable for academic and scientific writing, period... It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images?

I used Word when writing my thesis in '94-95 - each chapter a separate doc, figures inserted by creating artwork separately and then using a high-end copy machine to integrate text and figures. It was an ugly process.

> Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem".

That's what led my employer to switch from WordPerfect to MS Word and from Lotus 1-2-3 to Excel in the late '90s. Our customer, the US Govt, imposed a requirement that all reports and supplementary material, e.g., presentations and spreadsheets, be submitted in MS Office formats.

> What I did not see in the comparison is price. I suppose one would need to compare legally-owned copies of one product vs. the other.

Figure the business owns legal copies. Purchase price is one consideration, another is the cost to maintain the software and keep staff trained in how to use it.

The inertia - the tendency to stick with what you've got - can be huge when taking the latter factors into account. In an academic research group not only is there a mentality that you want to use the best available tool for the job but there's constant turnover, which supports rapid adaptation and evolution. Inertia is low. In contrast, turnover in (non-startup) business environments is comparatively slow.

Those businesses make cost-benefit assessments of adopting new software. The tendency is to stick with what you've got until it's absolutely positively unsustainable to do so.

[Jan 30, 2017] Academia standardized, and contributed to, the most promising free and working alternative. That's how TeX became standard de-facto for scientific publications

Jan 30, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
cm -> Observer... , January 29, 2017 at 01:07 AM
Every product is made for a market/audience. When TeX/LaTeX were created, the itch to be scratched was technical and scientific publications with content and formatting requirements that most commercial tools targeted at corporate users were simply unsuitable for, regardless of price level. Aside from affordability by organizations and individuals largely in the non-commercial sector.

So academia standardized, and contributed to, the most promising "free" and "working" alternative.

If you don't have an appreciation for that, it's probably because you never had the need. Like with everything else. Most people are not interested in arcane medical implements and materials, or even mundane home furnishings, until they need them.

Fred C. Dobbs -> supersaurus... , January 28, 2017 at 11:05 PM
When the first paper volume of Donald Knuth's The Art of Computer Programming was published in 1968, it was typeset using hot metal typesetting set by a Monotype Corporation typecaster. This method, dating back to the 19th century, produced a "good classic style" appreciated by Knuth. When the second edition of the second volume was published, in 1976, the whole book had to be typeset again because the Monotype technology had been largely replaced by phototypesetting, and the original fonts were no longer available. When Knuth received the galley proofs of the new book on 30 March 1977, he found them awful. Around that time, Knuth saw for the first time the output of a high-quality digital typesetting system, and became interested in digital typography. The disappointing galley proofs gave him the final motivation to solve the problem at hand once and for all by designing his own typesetting system. On 13 May 1977, he wrote a memo to himself describing the basic features of TeX. ...

The first version of TeX was written in the SAIL programming language to run on a PDP-10 under Stanford's WAITS operating system. For later versions of TeX, Knuth invented the concept of literate programming, a way of producing compilable source code and cross-linked documentation typeset in TeX from the same original file. The language used is called WEB and produces programs in DEC PDP-10 Pascal. ...(Wikipedia)

(And so, Tex begat LaTex.
Much as UNIX begat Linux, etc.)

[Jan 29, 2017] Not all authors are able to afford MS Word and the equipment. So using open source publishing system is the most proper for academic publishing

Notable quotes:
"... It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images? Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem". ..."
"... Academia is a highly collaborative venture, and one has to consider overall cost and productivity. ..."
"... Today there is PDF as a pretty established (readonly) document format, back in the day the standard in academia was Postscript. ..."
"... I used Word when writing my thesis in '94-95 - each chapter a separate doc, figures inserted by creating artwork separately and then using a high-end copy machine to integrate text and figures. It was an ugly process. ..."
Jan 29, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
cm -> Chris G ... Sunday, January 29, 2017 at 12:21 AM , January 29, 2017 at 12:21 AM
The comparison comes 20 years late. In the 90's, MS Word was unsuitable for academic and scientific writing, period. Even for short documents like a conference or term paper. It was geared entirely to corporate users. In addition it was riddled with bugs and layout "quirks".

In reality, you also have to fiddle with Latex, and in the 90's embedding images was big PITA.

What I did not see in the comparison is price. I suppose one would need to compare legally-owned copies of one product vs. the other.

It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images? Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem".

Academia is a highly collaborative venture, and one has to consider overall cost and productivity.

Today there is PDF as a pretty established (readonly) document format, back in the day the standard in academia was Postscript.

Chris G -> cm... , January 29, 2017 at 06:35 AM
>In the 90's, MS Word was unsuitable for academic and scientific writing, period... It is not just a matter of the author being able to afford Word and the equipment and other software to use it productively. E.g. how do you prepare your graphs and images?

I used Word when writing my thesis in '94-95 - each chapter a separate doc, figures inserted by creating artwork separately and then using a high-end copy machine to integrate text and figures. It was an ugly process.

> Also business partners accepting or returning the documents will have to buy into the "ecosystem".

That's what led my employer to switch from WordPerfect to MS Word and from Lotus 1-2-3 to Excel in the late '90s. Our customer, the US Govt, imposed a requirement that all reports and supplementary material, e.g., presentations and spreadsheets, be submitted in MS Office formats.

> What I did not see in the comparison is price. I suppose one would need to compare legally-owned copies of one product vs. the other.

Figure the business owns legal copies. Purchase price is one consideration, another is the cost to maintain the software and keep staff trained in how to use it. The inertia - the tendency to stick with what you've got - can be huge when taking the latter factors into account. In an academic research group not only is there a mentality that you want to use the best available tool for the job but there's constant turnover, which supports rapid adaptation and evolution. Inertia is low. In contrast, turnover in (non-startup) business environments is comparatively slow. Those businesses make cost-benefit assessments of adopting new software. The tendency is to stick with what you've got until it's absolutely positively unsustainable to do so.

[Jan 28, 2017] Ms Word vs LaTeX

Jan 28, 2017 | economistsview.typepad.com
Chris G : January 28, 2017 at 06:04 AM

Re LaTeX reduces writing productivity - The .Plan

1. My experience with LaTeX vs Word is consistent with the study results - "We show that LaTeX users were slower than Word users, wrote less text in the same amount of time, and produced more typesetting, orthographical, grammatical, and formatting errors."

2. There's a guy in my group, the most talented applied mathematician I've ever known -incredibly good at applying high level math to solve practical problems, who swears by LaTeX even though we're standardized on Word at work. He's not any faster in preparing his docs than the rest of us and they're not any better in terms of look and feel. He just prefers to use LaTeX. Getting him to use Word has been like pulling teeth, i.e., entirely consistent with "On most measures, expert LaTeX users performed even worse than novice Word users. LaTeX users, however, more often report enjoying using their respective software." I will send him a link to the PLOS ONE article first thing Monday morning;-)

pgl -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 10:46 AM
WordPerfect works better than either.
libezkova -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 03:05 PM

"My experience with LaTeX vs. Word is consistent with the study results - "We show that LaTeX users were slower than Word users, wrote less text in the same amount of time, and produced more typesetting, orthographical, grammatical, and formatting errors."

You are wrong.

Such a statement signifies complete lack of understand of what the writing a book or dissertation is about. And what problems the author faces and need to solve in the process (this is pretty hard and time consuming job to write a sizable book - your book is a very harsh mistress ;-)

MS Word and TeX represent two different categories of writer's tool: the former is the tool without direct access to raw representation of the document/book. The latter is a tool with full access to such a representation. In this sense you can't and should not even compare them, unless you want to looks like an incompetent.

Moreover on long documents (to say nothing about books) latest versions of MS Word all have strange quirks. Sometime it change your formatting in a undesirable way. Microsoft software quality really went downhill after, say, 2003.

Fixing those quirks including "spontaneous" changes in formatting can take a day or a week of work even if you know MS Word perfectly well (which, unsurprisingly, very few people outside programming community do), including the in-depth knowledge of styles and, especially, macro programming. The latter is a must for writing any sizable book in MS Word. Or you need a good programmer to help you.

Of course, if you expect that your book will be a bestseller you can hire a top level programmer to adapt set of tools/macros for you, but that's a lot of money. You need approximately 3-5K lines of macros to supplement MS Word for writing a sizable book (say, over 300 pages).

I do know a couple of authors who write their technical books using MS Word (Bruce Eckel the author of "Thinking in Java" is one example). I view them as perverts, although being a programmer is a distinct advantage in such a situation; you will need all your skills to make the job done and you do not need to pay somebody else for such a help ;-).

Writing a large book is about managing revisions and a very precise formatting of chapters. Which needs to be preserved (and verified with some automatic tools) over many iterations (which can take several years) until the final draft of the book. Manipulating the set of styles you use in the book is not easy in MS Word.

Here access to the raw representation of the text of the book is vital. If you need to check your examples (like in case of writing programming books), access to raw text is a must (although can be imitated in MS Word via macros). If you are writing geo science or any book with a lot of mathematics – you better forget about MS Word.

The usual trick authors who write books in MS Word use -- storing each chapter as a separate document -- makes it difficult to create cross references and such. Chapters became semi-isolated and that negatively affects the quality of the book.

So for technical books and especially dissertations TeX has a huge (and I mean HUGE) edge over MS Word. Only using HTML with styles (FrontPage 2003 or Microsoft expression Web) can compete with TeX and only in case you do not use mathematical notation and equations extensively.

brian : , January 28, 2017 at 10:16 AM
Re latex

OK. word is faster. However there's nothing there about what the document looks like. Word documents look like word documents, i.e. not very good. Perhaps that's a function of somebody knowledgeable setting up templates. I find it really hard to believe that it's that much faster. I find word completely bewildering.

People like latex it better because they can use their favorite text editor and get it done. using word is completely and utterly annoying. That accounts for the enjoyment factor i think.

Also too, no mention of lyx.

libezkova -> Chris G ... , January 28, 2017 at 05:59 PM
I respectfully disagree, but I see your point -- MS Word is much simpler to use for short papers, especially in multi-author env. It requires less sophistication on users part.

Please understand that for LaTeX to work in multi-author environment you need Git or Subversion (or similar version management system) to be installed and learned by all people in the group. Even when just two people are involved (as often is the case with dissertations ) this is a must.

But from the point of view of achievable final quality of the product WordPerfect is better as PGL pointed out.

Both are (unlike TeX) integrated WYSIWYG ("what you see is what you get") publishing environments with a lot of sophisticated features (such as folding, macros, styles, creation of TOC, powerful spellchecker, etc).

WordPerfect still is used by lawyers and some other professions who value precise layout:

http://www.microcounsel.com/nextgen.htm

== quote ==
Why do lawyers still love WordPerfect? One attorney answers with "Two words: Reveal Codes. At one point about 10 years ago, I tried switching to Word. My secretary and I agreed we hated it after only a few weeks."
== end of quote ==

I am surprised that so few people in the USA use Microsoft Expression Web (or FrontPage ) for this purpose in corporate env.

I am also surprised how Microsoft being a huge company still managed to produce very complex, professional tools like Ms Word and managed to push them to people who are definitely unable to use even 10% of the features offered.

Few people understand that MS Word takes years of day-to-day usage (plus some programming abilities) to learn on the expert level. In reality this is a complex publishing system.

I know some secretaries with almost 30 years day-to-day experience (starting PC DOS days with MS Word 4, which was released in 1987) who still learn something new each month. Often because they knew it a couple of years ago, but forgot :-).

BTW MS Word is one of the few applications for which viruses ("macro viruses") exist and were a nasty problem in the corporate environment in 1996-2002.

Bill Gates took huge risk to bring "over-sophisticated" products like this to the market and still managed to achieve a dominant position among regular users. In Bill Gates days Microsoft was a "king of software complexity" in this product niche.

supersaurus : , January 28, 2017 at 03:26 PM
LaTeX vs MSWord? really? someone got paid to do research on that topic? what next? emacs vs vim?
Observer -> supersaurus... , January 28, 2017 at 04:00 PM
Kind of brings you back, doesn't it. I seem to recall a guy in the lab running LateX on a PDP 11/70 back in the early 80's - rather a boutique affectation even then.
libezkova -> Observer... , -1
TeX is a standard typesetting tool for the American Mathematical Society.

http://www.ams.org/publications/authors/authors
== quote ==
Many mathematics publishers (including the AMS) strongly encourage the use of LaTeX:

[Dec 26, 2016] How to Install Microsoft Office 2013 in Linux - Make Tech Easier

Notable quotes:
"... The PlayOnLinux tool is available in most modern Linux distribution package repositories. Install it by opening your package manager or software store and searching for "playonlinux" or from the terminal (in Ubuntu): ..."
Dec 26, 2016 | www.maketecheasier.com

Using the Wine tools to get Windows programs is not a difficult process. With enough effort and Wine tinkering, anyone can get a Windows program up and running on Linux. Though, for many new Linux users, Wine can be tedious and irritating to use without any direction.

This is where PlayOnLinux comes in. It is a "wine wrapper" and makes things easier. Basically it's a tool that takes the underlying technology of Wine and adds some easy-to-use GUI tools for installing a myriad of Windows-based games and even programs (like MS Office).

The PlayOnLinux tool is available in most modern Linux distribution package repositories. Install it by opening your package manager or software store and searching for "playonlinux" or from the terminal (in Ubuntu):

sudo apt install playonlinux

Using PlayOnLinux to install Microsoft Office

Inside PlayOnLinux there are many different buttons and options. The only one that matters at the moment is the "Install" button. After you click it, what follows is a window with a search box. In the search area, type "Microsoft Office."

microsoft-office-play-on-linux-office-installer

Searching for this term brings up several versions of Microsoft Office. Each result is an installation profile, and once the user clicks on one, PlayOnLinux will create a Wine environment and walk through the installation process.

Within the results, select "Microsoft Office 2013" and then the "Install" button. What follows is a warning that "this program is currently in testing." This means that the PlayOnLinux profile for Office 2013 is under testing and may experience some hiccups. Select OK to continue.

This brings up a Windows-like installation wizard. Read the directions and select the "Next" button to be brought to the next part of the installer. PlayOnLinux asks the user to provide the installation file.

[Sep 16, 2016] gGrammar checkers with context based checking

Notable quotes:
"... Context-based grammar checkers appear in Microsoft Office 2010 , Microsoft Office 2007 , [4] Google Wave , [5] Ghotit Dyslexia Software, [6] Grammarly , [7] [8] [9] SpellCheckPlus.com , GrammarCheck.net, Ginger Software , VirtualWritingTutor.com, and WhiteSmoke ..."
en.wikipedia.org
errors based on the context of the surrounding words.

Context-based grammar checkers appear in Microsoft Office 2010 , Microsoft Office 2007 , [4] Google Wave , [5] Ghotit Dyslexia Software, [6] Grammarly , [7] [8] [9] SpellCheckPlus.com , GrammarCheck.net, Ginger Software , VirtualWritingTutor.com, and WhiteSmoke .

Thinking of Publishing Your Own $0.99 Kindle Book

The quality problem of self-editing
Slashdot:

sir_eccles

The biggest problem with self publishing

Self editing. Applies equally to ebooks and old fashioned paper ones.

Man Eating Duck

Re:The biggest problem with self publishing (Score:5, Insightful)

Self editing. Applies equally to ebooks and old fashioned paper ones.

Bravo. I'm a voracious reader, I prefer reading on E-ink, and I've read quite a few self-published stories for free or very cheap ($4). Some are very good stories, some are weaker, but without exception so far all are marred by poor flow, sentences that not quite work and even grammatical and spelling errors.

A good copy-editor could work wonders, an editor who is involved in the shaping of the book is even better. It takes a good author to write a compelling story or a good non-fiction book, but to end up with a good final result you need professionals somewhere down the line.

This doesn't mean that self-publishing is inherently bad, if you write a good story you can rise above the rest by spending something like $1500 to have a professional copy-edit your book. If you're serious about your writing this is not a huge investment, especially if you compare it to the time you put into writing your story. And no, your friend who got an A+ in $language is almost certainly *not* a good substitute.

I love to see a lot of promising fresh writers being able to publish their work without needing a publishing contract, but even an ace racing driver can't win without his team of mechanics and support crew. Something similar goes for writers (-1, car analogy).

Disclaimer: I've worked at an academic publishing company since 1999 and have participated in publishing hundreds of works. I *know* how important a good editor, proof-reader and copy-editor are for getting a good result. A good percentage of our authors don't understand why they need it until they see the finished book :)

gwolf

I have to completely agree with the parent comment. I am currently in the final phases of editing a (traditional, printed) book. I originally thought the editorial process would be a breeze (hey, after all I use LaTeX for my typesetting – is there anything beyond that) but... Well, not only has reality proven me wrong, but as the style and editorial correctors give me their comments in writing (I'm writing for my University press), I have had to learn more than a bit in the process.

And of course, editing for print is completely different from editing for e-readers. I do, however, want to make the book available for e-readers as well (I also usually prefer reading on my Kindle than lugging a large book with me), but many of the principles already used should be enough for a first version.

Of course, and on a much more personal topic: I am interested in making the book available in an open format (most likely .mobi, which is most compatible among readers). Of course, .mobi is translatable (in my limited experience) to both the more popular ePub and to the Kindle AZW formats with no quality loss. But, will Amazon accept listing a free book, available under a CC-BY-SA license, in their catalog? I'm not too optimistic.

95 search results for grammar

freshmeat.net

After the Deadline

After The Deadline is contextual spell checking, grammar checking, and style checking technology. It has seamless service integration with online publishing tools and platforms (WordPress, TinyMCE, etc.). AtD's sophisticated language models can catch and suggest corrections to subtle errors in context.

LanguageTool

LanguageTool is a style and grammar checker that currently supports English, Polish, German, French, Dutch, and other languages to a different degree. It scans the words and their part-of-speech tags for occurrences of error patterns, which are defined in an XML file. More powerful error rules can be written in Java. LanguageTool should be used after the spelling of a text has been corrected.

[Jun 05, 2011] What Can We Expect, and Not Expect, from Grammar Programs?

The Grammar Slammer Family of Grammar & Spelling Programs

Grammar Slammer contains the quick online English grammar help. $25 - for Grammar help only--no spelling or checkers.

"Grammar Slammer's simple appearance and vast amount information on grammar/writing help makes this program a must for all students, and I strongly encourage anyone to purchase this program." Shareware Junkies

Ask about special prices for site licenses, schools, and multiple copies (all versions). A Software of the Month Club Selection. A Ziff-Davis editor's choice.

Grammar Slammer combined with a good Grammar Checker is unbeatable. Except, of course, for Grammar Slammer Deluxe combined with a good Grammar Checker and Spelling Checker! Now we have it all in one package--Grammar Slammer Deluxe with Checkers.

Free online grammar checker

There is a very similar question to yours on this forum. My answer then was:

"I have yet to find grammar software that works. As they can still only perform mathematical checks of words and sentences, grammar checkers tend to miss lots of errors and often suggest wrong versions. Microsoft's grammar checker is doubtless a brilliant piece of programming, but it misses around 70% of errors in my experience.

Here is a test piece:

I know a girl. The girls' coat is blue.

Now, as we all know, the apostrophe should be before the "s" in "girls" as the coat belongs to only one girl - as is clear from context. However, as "girls' coat" is feasible as a stand-alone phrase, grammar checkers will ignore it. I could rattle off countless examples like this one, which leave grammar checkers floundering at the bottom of the class!

Unfortunately, the only way to prevent grammar errors is learn grammar. Unlike spell checkers (which are - let's face it - brilliant), modern grammar checkers are full of holes - huge ones.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

You might want to have a look at www.grammar-monster.com (There is a short article there about grammar checkers and a few cool tests too.)"

Ollie Veradi

Joined on Tue, Aug 3 2004

New Member 13

Common Spelling Mistakes in English

We've asked our Englishforums members to write down their most commonly misspelled words, and here are the top 55 in alphabetical order: Correct spelling Common misspellings ache ake, ach, ace accommodation accomidation, accomadation,...

well I would love to have one... and even the human grammar checker won't work... ask three people a grammar question and you might get three different answers. Including the one I hate the most: don't worry, we understand you. GRRRRRRRRRR!

Anonymous
If you know his address I would be grateful if you phoned me? Is this correct sentence

Very true...nothing can replace human brain!!!

btw I got a question...

He is said to have had connection with criminals.

He is said to have been a part of our company.

could anyone tell me if these sentences are correct?

Waiting for your valuable input, thank you very much

Regards

Sherlock

X11:

Hi.

I believe that the first one is correct, but the second one should go like this;

He is said to have been part of our company

I'm almost positive that there should not be an article before part..

regards

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