[H-GEN] Text Processor Tool

Greg Black gjb at gbch.net
Sun Aug 1 22:34:44 EDT 2004

On 2004-08-02, James Mills wrote:
> On Sat, Jul 31, 2004 at 04:42:11PM +1000, Greg Black wrote:
>> If you're happy with LyX, why not just continue using it?  Or
>> has something changed that makes you need something with extra
>> capabilities?
> *nods* My Vision got worse. This thread is only to gather ideas and
> thoughts though. My partner (girlfriend) doesn't know a great deal about
> computers, so this has been great.

Ok, that explains things.

> I will probably continue to use LyX iif (if any only if) I can... I
> think you can change the on-screen fonts used (I hope!)

Not being a LyX user, I don't know the answer to that; but since
all the regular tools that display TeX output (e.g., xdvi, gv)
manage it trivially, I'd be astonished if it was a problem for

>> You can certainly change the font face and size through a wide
>> range in OpenOffice.
> *nods* The Font/Size isn't the only reason I prefer not to use OO.
> Probably for the same reasons you tend to write documentation in TeX :)
> I do prefer to use some form of a Text Processor vs. Word Processor.
> I just think it's more effecient than anything I have seen!

I certainly understand that viewpoint and share it.  I only
suggested OO because it seemed to be a good match for your
original set of requirements and because it has been gaining
mind share in the community which makes using it more attractive
than it might once have been.  But if your TeX-based tools can
continue to meet your needs, I would not suggest changing.

>> OK, I happen to have a 17" LCD screen on my desk; mine runs at
>> 1280x1024 -- is that what you're using?  If so, can you tell me
>> what font you use in your xterms so that I can gauge what you're
>> looking for?
> I run mine in 640x480 to get that added increase in the size of what I
> see along with the largest Font that x-term can increase to in it's
> default configuration. ie: Using SHIFT + NUM_PLUS.

I only run them in their native resolution -- my experience with
LCD screens is that their display quality sucks so badly in
anything other than native resolution that it's just not worth
it.  But your needs may well be different from mine.

>> This is a general problem, whether or not you have a vision
>> problem.  A few minutes of web browsing is enough to make me
>> want to go on a killing spree when I am confronted with web
>> pages created by idiots who think they know what size screen I'm
>> using and who know better then me what size and style of font I
>> should be using.
> I know and it sucks. I'm just gonna have to get a 30" LCD :) But for now
> I have to try and solve the current problems I am facing now.

Yes, that's understandable.  I hope that some of the ideas that
come out of this discussion, from all participants, will assist
you to achieve your goal.

>> I've never used LyX -- it was too broken last time I checked and
>> I never went back to it.  But I use TeX for all my documentation
>> (at least when I care about its appearance); and I also use OO,
>> because I have relatives and customers who use it and I need to
>> know how to drive it so I can be their help desk.  I happen not
>> to like the "word processor" approach, as used in Word and OO;
>> but I must say that I find it easy enough to use them, and I
>> know that it's possible to ignore the mouse and menus and that
>> stuff most of the time -- there are key strokes that do pretty
>> much everything just as well.  But, since I don't see the world
>> the same way as you do, it's possible that what I think of as
>> easy may not be so for you.
> You should. LyX (the current version 1.3.4 I think from memory without
> firing it up), is quite stable and very nice to use.

No, I'll never try LyX now.  Its interest was for some of my
customers, but they've now all found OpenOffice and are quite
happy.  For my own TeX documents, I write them with Emacs and
have little Lisp functions bound to function keys to display and
print them and it all works just fine for me.  I've been using
my own TeX macro package for all my documents for about 15 years
now and have no inclination to learn anything new.

>From time to time, I consider docbook, but each time I look at
it I wonder how they managed to get it so wrong.  And so I don't
change.  Probably, if I ever do change, I'll write a completely
new language that will output TeX for quality hardcopy, PDF for
draft quality hardcopy, and HTML for browser quality output.
But this project would be incredibly boring under most normal
circumstances, so it will need some trigger to make it happen.
The kind of trigger that might work would be a decision to adopt
some new programming language and to use this as a project to
learn that language.

>> I'd strongly suggest trying out as much as you can from what's
>> already available first -- while it would be possible to write
>> your own in Python (or a hundred other languages), it's a
>> non-trivial undertaking unless you really have time on your
>> hands.  (This is spoken as somebody who thinks that the best way
>> to learn a new language is to reimplement the Unix ed program as
>> the first real exercise.)
> *nods* I will and I am... Have you ever used things like hnb or woody ?
> (Heirachical Editors, or Outline Editors) ? They are really nice in that
> you can open/close branches of information/text as needed. This ability
> and the terminal/curses based ability is the one thing lacking that I'd
> like LyX to have :) Perhaps I'll speak with the Author before diving
> into writing my own!

When I want to do that kind of thing, I just use the builtin
outlining facility in Emacs; it seems to do what you've
described there, although I haven't used the tools you mention,
so they may have you-beaut features that I don't know about.

> Though I must point out, that actually writing LyX in source code, ie:
> in vim, is actually quite easy. So perhaps my Project isn't such a bad
> idea (who knows).

It's certainly possible; it just seems like a lot of work that
you might not want to tackle.

> Thanks Greg for your input, appreciate it.

That's what we're here for :-)  I just hope that this thread
will provide useful help and that other people who might have to
think about these issues will get some good ideas as well.

> This message was re-posted as I accidently hit 'r' instead of ':' in
> mutt which is the email client that I use... Apparently you can setup
> mutt properly so that hitting 'r' will also work (by using the
> Mail-Follow-Up header). How do you do this ?

I just use 'g' to reply to all list mail to save me from having
to think about whether a particular list sets Reply-To or not.
I have mutt setup to put all the headers in my editor so that I
can then see and fix them[1].

In this case, it put the contents of your Mail-Followup-To
header in the To field, so I left that alone.  Then I pasted the
list address into the Reply-To field (which I have mutt provide
by default).  So this time, if you hit 'r', your message will be
directed to the list.  The case where your reply was sent to me
only was one where I just copied your Mail-Followup-To header as
it was.

> On the same note, back to when I started the Repy-To thread about this
> list, these are the exact reasons why all HumBug lists should have a
> Reply-To header. I'm not sure about other MUA's, but certainly with mutt
> it's too much mucking around to participate in threads of this list! And
> yes, I am quite knowledable about mutt's features and options and have
> customized it quite a bit... But obviously it's still not enough :(

As you know, this is a matter that will never be resolved.  Some
people think (correctly, in my very strong opinion) that mailing
list software should *never* add or override Reply-To headers;
other people want them to do it.  Mailing lists that do what I
call the right thing are easy to deal with -- each subscriber
that wants a custom Reply-To header can fix that with procmail
or maildrop or a custom program on the incoming messages (and
this way they can avoid overriding a Reply-To header if there's
already one there).  This is easy to do and various recipes for
it have been posted here previously.  The mailing lists that do
the wrong thing prevent people from putting their own Reply-To
header on messages where they want to direct replies in some
specific manner.  So there's no work around for that (which is
why it's more broken than the alternative).

Cheers, Greg

[1] By the way, I regard it as a critical part of posting
    messages to lists that subscribers should stop and review
    their *entire* message before posting it.  This means that
    they should read and check all the headers, and check to
    make sure that they've trimmed all the extraneous quoted
    crap, and finally review their content to make sure that it
    makes sense and is as well spelt, punctuated, set out and
    expressed as they can make it.  After all, lots of people
    are going to take the time to read it, so it's only fair to
    make that easy for the readers.

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