Which equation editor?

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Post by Normand » Wed Sep 20, 2006 6:06 pm

Hi! Here is a short (uncomplete) answer but if I postpone it until I have time to do a complete one, I will never do it!

Nicka wrote:

"Slightly off-topic (but not really, since it's a direct competitor for academics who work with equations, and there may be lessons to learn) what has your experience been like with Publicon? It would be interesting to know why you prefer to write your book in Mellel."

and Zoul wrote:

"Do You insist on using a GUI application? TeX seems to be one of the best choices when writing books about physics. I recently managed to install ConTeXt with XeTeX on my Mac Mini and now I can typeset PDF documents using the OpenType fonts installed on my system. The installation was not as easy as installing Mellel, but it was doable. You can find some information about ConTeXt in the ConTeXt wiki (http://wiki.contextgarden.net/Main_Page) or You can mail me. I like Mellel and use it every day, but for writing texts with lots of math it’s very hard to beat TeX."

My relation with TeX/LaTeX has always been ambiguous. When I am far enough of it I am attracted. Every time I get close to it I am strongly repelled. I have had to use it a lot (and probably will have to use it again) to write scientific papers (math and physics) but I still consider myself as a novice in that field.
I tend to like it because the typesetting of text and equations look good, though modern word processor (or text editor or document processor ???) and modern easy to use equation editors do a good job too.

I am repelled from it because it is always a pain to use.
I fell like when I began to use mainframe computers (NOS). You know the patern; you try to do something and it does not work; you get an error message. You fiddle around, ask other, read pages and pages of documentation and experiment. Then hop! It work... up to the next line.

I tried ConText. I tried a simple equation in the demo page. Beautiful! I tried another one and I got an error message that does not help me to undestand what I did wrong. I know that there is a way to make it work but it seems to me that it is always "uselessly" difficult. You presume that there must be a trail to go to destination but you always get branches in your face and you trip over roots all the time...
Furthermore, for example, how can you change the magins of a LaTeX document. You have to find somewhere a style file that, hopefully, will meet your needs or you have to code it yourself. Have you ever look at the content of a style file??? I had to choose to become a physicist or a programmer. I did both a lot but sometime I feel that some jobs must be done by the computer. Isn't why we buy it?
In a modern software, to change a margin, you just slide the margin with the cursor or change a number in a field...

Furthermore #2, just another example. I never ever saw a nice table built with LaTeX. I discussed it elsewhere and it appeared that it is not possible to do that. Some people told me that the problem is not LaTeX but me. I must not want a table different than what LateX can do because the way LaTeX makes tables is the proper way to do table... For example, vertical lines in a table is a nonsense, a shaded cell is sacrilege.

PUBLICON seems to me to be a step in the good direction to makes LateX usable and I will probably use it when I will have to use LaTeX. But there are still limitations. Just an example. If you cross-reference to an equation, it writes Equation #XX. It is OK but if you want to write only Eq. #XX instead or just (#XX) you can't. Well, maybe you can but then you fell in the same paradigm I described before... You read, you try, you ask, you try again... With Mellel for example you can do that visually in seconds without reading anything or asking around... That is why we buy computers and software... Isn't it? And with Publicon, unfortunately, table are not better...

That is why I plan to use a modern software.

Normand Beaudoin
Dept of physics and astronomy
Univ. of Moncton

Knows everything, can prove it
Posts: 257
Joined: Tue Aug 22, 2006 4:13 am
Location: Topanga, California

Lots of Errors in Transmitting the Equations

Post by laup » Sat Sep 23, 2006 1:54 pm

Normand wrote: LaTeXiT does not work for large equations.

Generally the equations from MathMagic look better than those from MathType and even from LaTex.
For example, the integral sign and the position and size of limits seem better. On the other hand the bra-ket (quantum mechanics) looks slightly better in Mathtype and LaTeX but it could be a matter of opinion.
The interface of MathType appears to me more easy to work with than the one of MathMagic and the set of symbols and templates more elaborated in MathType. With both, MathType and MathMagic it is easy to build templates in color. For example a bra-ket in red and the content of the bra-ket in black.
Normand, Thanks for sending me your file. There were lots of errors and nothing came out perfect.

When viewed in Mellel on my screen:
• The equations in MathType look fine, including the items in the array.

• The array equation in MathMagic is completely garbled. Almost none of the symbols came through correctly.

When viewed in pdf using Preview,
• the MathType array's (1,2) element comes out as just four rectangles instead of RZCN.
• in Math Magic, the accent mark is missing on the alpha in the (2,3) element of the array

When viewed in pdf using Adobe Acrobat
• The (1,2) element of the array comes out blank in MathType
• As above, the accent is missing on the alpha in MathMagic

When I took the Mellel file and "printed" to pdf using the OS X mechanism, the (1,2) element came out fine viewing it in Prevew (as RZCN with the letters having some double lines in their outline, presumably as intended).

It seems that there are problems of both portability and translation.

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