LaTeX forum ⇒ LyXSeamless transition between LyX and LaTeX users

Information and discussion about LyX, a WYSIWYM editor, available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X systems.
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Seamless transition between LyX and LaTeX users

Postby tommaso-cesari » Tue Oct 30, 2018 12:52 pm

Hey guys, I have been using LyX for a long time now and I really appreciate the amount of work the developers have put into it, so first and foremost a big thanks to everyone who contributed to the making of this great tool.

In a perfect world, where people used the best tool available for each task, I am sure the vast majority of math writers would use LyX over writing plain LaTeX code. However, there are two factors that makes the transition very hard. The first one is habit. Regular LaTeX users are not interested in investing that little time that takes to learn how to use a new tool, especially if they perfected LaTeX coding after decades of experience. The second one is convention. Unless one writes for him/herself, one wants to be able to share his/her math with some other math user. The conventional way of doing that is with tex files. Unfortunately, I don't think much can be done about the first factor. This is only a temporary issue though, assuming that the youngsters feel compelled to move towards the better solution. Changing an established convention is also a very hard task, and not something that usually happens overnight.

That said I feel like there could be a way to steer new generations towards the the better way. It should be possible to seamlessly transition from LyX to LaTeX files, in the following sense:
1) importing a .tex file to LyX and then exporting it back to .tex should output exactly the same .tex file (is that so already?);
2) when writing with LyX, it should be possible to have full control over the source, so that exporting a LyX file to a .tex one would result in a human-friendly indentation or in the desired conventions for spacing, usage of curly brackets, etc.

With such features easily available to all users, the young mathematician would have no incentive of writing plain code and at the same time, the old veteran professor who is hard-set in doing so will have no troubles in collaborating with someone who is using LyX, as the source code that is submitted to him/her would look exactly like it would if it were written in tex in the first place.

Of course one could just use LyX and write everything in ERT, throwing some previews here and there, but this would completely obliterate the huge advantage that having a partially interpreted LaTeX code has to offer.

What do you think guys? Do you agree with me? Do you think that such changes could be easily implemented? Number 2) alone seams a relatively easy feature to obtain and it would improve the situation by leaps and bounds when it comes to collaborating with other people who are not interested in using LyX.

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Postby kaiserkarl13 » Wed Oct 31, 2018 3:06 pm

The premise of your post (i.e., that LyX is a better tool) is flawed. You may prefer LyX and its interface, but it's not for everyone, and there are times that even the best LyX user will be relegated to writing "plain LaTeX" (as you somewhat amusingly put it---if you think LaTeX is "plain," try reading something written in TeX without the structure LaTeX offers).

There already is a way to import LaTeX source into LyX, and as you suggested, the reverse process exists even if it does result in less-than-perfectly-readable code. Personal preferences are not necessarily wrong, and I can speak from personal experience that not everyone who is shown LyX and LaTeX at roughly the same time thinks one is superior to the other in any consistent way. Some prefer LyX, others prefer LaTeX. As with things like the UNIX shell vs. something like KDE or Gnome, there are times when the GUI works better, but experienced users will frequently choose the text version, because they already know what to do and can do it with a few keystrokes rather than several menus of drop-down items.

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Postby tommaso-cesari » Fri Nov 09, 2018 12:27 pm

The reason why I think LyX is superior to LaTeX, regardless of personal preferences, is that it allows you to actually do math. I understand one might prefer to write math in a different way though. Maybe more efficient would be a better choice of words. Anyway, regardless of preferences it would be great to have a seamless way to pass from one method to another.

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