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RE: .doc file concerns

From: Paul Sander
Subject: RE: .doc file concerns
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2001 22:12:24 -0700

>--- Forwarded mail from address@hidden

>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: address@hidden [mailto:address@hidden
>> Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2001 6:14 PM
>> To: address@hidden
>> Subject: Re: .doc file concerns
>> The thing is, most writers seem to prefer WYSIWYG editors 
>> such as Word or Frame
>> Maker to using mark-up languages.  This is reasonable, 
>> because they're much more
>> productive with such tools,

>Has anybody done studies?  My guess would be that getting an initial
>design slapped out would be somewhat faster with Word, but that
>redoing the document would be faster with something like LaTeX.
>In any case, there is at least one editor claiming to do essentially
>WYSIWYG with LaTeX.

>I have no doubt but that designers like Word and FrameMaker better,
>but there's a surprising lack of correlation between what seems easy
>to use and what makes you more productive.

Well, you're a programmer, and they're authors.  Your mindsets are different,
so different things make you more productive.  Giving an artist a programming
language is often a disaster, just as giving someone like me a paint brush is.

> especially since they're much 
>> more concerned with
>> an attractive presentation than are engineers who happen to 
>> write simple documents.
>TeX was written by a man very concerned with how his documents
>looked, and they include ways to do very tricky typesetting.
>Knuth stopped submitting papers to journals that could not typeset
>them to his standards.  Since TeX, probably the most widely used
>markup language, was designed by somebody who was concerned with
>an attractive presentation and did not write simple documents,
>there is something wrong with your argument.

Okay, maybe TeX can produce documents comparable to professional authoring
tools such as Frame Maker.  It's also a lot cheaper.  So why aren't the
professionals using it?  I've yet to meet anyone who writes for a living
who uses TeX, even if they're familiar with it.

>If I'm going to write a simple document, I frequently use Word.
>If I'm going to write something complicated, I use a better tool,
>such as LaTeX or a real page layout program.

The authors agree with you.  I've met only one professional writer who
prefers Word over a more capable tool, and he was a relatively poor quality
contractor thrust into a management position.  Everyone under him went back
to Frame after his departure, having made the same argument.

>> Choosing an inferior tool just because the version control 
>> system can't handle
>> a full-featured one is a poor way to work.
>On the other hand, using a tool that makes products that can be
>stored, compared, branched, merged, and so forth is attractive.
>I would be surprised to find that any version control system
>would handle Word documents in such a versatile fashion.

They could, if diff and merge tools existed.  Most authors I know only
care about storage.  They don't care about branching or merging, except
under extreme circumstances.  And even then, they avoid branching and
merging; whether this is because the can't or won't understand basic
version control concepts, or because the merge tools are inadequate,
I don't know.

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