Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Note on Writing Software

Recently, I've begun exploring alternative programs in which to use as a word processor. I stumbled upon an area of thought known as WYSIWYM. This acronym stands for What You See Is What You Mean. This is different from the more popular WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) that is used in most writing tools today. Basically, WYSIWYM, from my understanding, is when you focus on writing rather than format. No need to worry about indents or spacing, or font or any of that hooey.

From this I began to learn the LaTeX document markup language. Learning the basics did not take long at all. In practice I found it simple to use and implement and the results weren't bad. Once LaTeX compiled the file the output it did indeed look like an actual book. It even used roman numerals to number the prologue and then normal numbers for subsequent pages(something I find is a pain to do in Word/ OpenOffice Writer). If I were to publish a paper, or even this novel I would really consider using this tool. The file sizes are small, adding sections, table of contents, title pages, bibliographies are all easy.

Of course, I don't want to paint a completely rosy picture. There are indeed disadvantages. Firstly, you do need to know the lingo and, unless you're using a program like Lys, you do need to compile the files which is an extra step. Also it can be said that what can be accomplished by the LaTeX language, at least in the area of page/section layouts, indents etc. can be done through a template in Word or whatever word processor you are using. In addition to this I found that converting from .tex format to a more typical document processing format (ex. .doc, .odt, .rtf)

Despite all of this I do believe I will endure. Perks like automatic section numbering, title page generation, and table of contents are hard to pass up.

Note: I made a few changes to the Prologue, mostly grammatical, a few new lines of text. Chapter 1 will be forth coming.

Edit: Scratch the comment about converting... it was just me being stupid.

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