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Why LyX?

LyXAdd tags Information and discussion about LyX, a WYSIWYM editor, available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X systems.

Why LyX?

Postby sveioen on Tue Mar 6th, 2007

Hello all.

I just have a kind of question regarding LyX; why would you use it? I thought the whole consept of LaTeX was based on the "not-WYSIWYG" idea. :D

I havent tried it much though, so dont shoot me!
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Re: Why LyX?

Postby Gusto on Tue Mar 6th, 2007

Hello Sveioen,
perhaps you want to have a look at the follwing links:
http://www.troubleshooters.com/linux/lyx/bestandworst.htm
http://www.bilkent.edu.tr/~robin/lyxguide.pdf Chapter 1.1

Now my answer: With Lyx I can combine the advantage of LaTeX with the advantage of 95% WYSIWYG.
For example: This makes it easier for me to write mathematical formulas.
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Re: Why LyX?

Postby sveioen on Wed Mar 7th, 2007

Thank you Gusto. That made me a little smarter. Very Happy
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Re: Why LyX?

Postby Maksi on Sun Mar 16th, 2008

With LyX you can do everything you can do in LaTeX. Most of it you can do with the ease of a mouse-click, if not, you can always insert LaTeX code and still hide it (the ERT boxes). This way, LyX is even more suited for what is always called LaTeX’s biggest advantage: focus on content rather than formatting orgies. Also, LyX is easy-to-use for people who are not familiar with LaTeX and do not want to learn it. I personally really do not prefer looking at code but rather at the paper I am writing. I am not a typical LaTeX-student though, I am studying philosophy and in humanities Word is still a de facto standard. However, thanks to LyX, many of my collegues and friends are now trying out LaTeX.

For quite a while I thought that LyX was some kind of “LaTeX for Dummies” and when I learned enough LaTeX, I started using LaTeX editors and wrote pure LaTeX. But with LyX, it is easier, faster and I do not have to care about typing errors all the time. With LyX I simply save a lot of time, do not have to read too many manuals for too many packages and still get the same output.

So my question is: why not use LyX? And I am sure that many people, who talk bad of LyX, have not really tried out any of the latest version over a longer period of time. The only reason not to use LyX to me seems to be if you love writing code and feel very cool, progressive or geeky about being able to write everything in code (instead of clicking a few buttons). For some students, this also is a qualification bonus (e.g. people from informatics, sciences and so on).

Today, LyX is not “LaTeX for Dummies” to me any more but rather “LaTeX for the smart ones” ;)
A Humanities user of LaTeX :)
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Re: Why LyX?

Postby Stefanie on Sat May 3rd, 2008

Maksi wrote:So my question is: why not use LyX? And I am sure that many people, who talk bad of LyX, have not really tried out any of the latest version over a longer period of time. The only reason not to use LyX to me seems to be if you love writing code and feel very cool, progressive or geeky about being able to write everything in code (instead of clicking a few buttons). For some students, this also is a qualification bonus (e.g. people from informatics, sciences and so on).


i think you're exaggerating here. i'm a student of linguistics (humanities, indeed) and i'm not using "plain" latex editors to feel cool. i'm using them because they're fast. using a keyboard in combination with a good auto-complete function is much more convenient than having to switch from keyboard to mouse and back all the time. the latex commands do not distract me because the syntax-highlighting keeps you focussed on your text. what's more, i feel like i'm totally in control of what i'm doing. little customizations are no problem at all, and i don't see how that would be possible if the source code is actually hidden. i'm also doing lots of stuff that is not possible in WYSIWYG, like extensive use of phonetic symbols, linguistic examples, custom packages,... even if i would use lyx i would have to use source code more than 50% of the time.

this is why i'm using kile for the moment. it's the most powerful latex editor i know, and i'm very happy with it. it supports forward and inverse search, so i can easily switch between input and output. the autocompletion function is very useful, i've added my own custom commands to the database and i've assigned a lot of custom shortcuts to some actions. i really believe it's the fastest and most accurate way of typesetting.
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Re: Why LyX?

Postby Maksi on Tue May 6th, 2008

Stefanie wrote:i think you're exaggerating here. i'm a student of linguistics (humanities, indeed) and i'm not using "plain" latex editors to feel cool.

Of course, I like provocation -- it makes discussions productive :)

Stefanie wrote:i'm using them because they're fast.

Absolutely. Neither LyX nor any other editor with more functions than a basic text editor will ever be faster.

Stefanie wrote:using a keyboard in combination with a good auto-complete function is much more convenient than having to switch from keyboard to mouse and back all the time.

Well... you know, when the mouse was invented there were many who doubted that people would ever use these devices. Today, a (personal) computer without a mouse is not worth anything. As for myself I am a big keyboard fan as well and even refuse writing SMS on my mobile phone as I find it too complicated (missing my ten fingers-typing). However, I also like using the mouse every time I can. It is a very nice way of interaction.

Stefanie wrote:the latex commands do not distract me because the syntax-highlighting keeps you focussed on your text.

That is right and especially if your are right in the midst of your text you likely will not have many tags. Most of them are in the preamble.

Stefanie wrote:what's more, i feel like i'm totally in control of what i'm doing.

Well, that is a good point: you feel that you are in control, no, even totally in control. Funny thing: a total feeling, sounds a little strange to me. Still, it is only a feeling... as for myself: I never feel not being in control (whatever that is) of what I am writing, neither in LaTeX nor in LyX. I can not see, why you should feel more in control of something in Kile than in LyX, when you know both editors well enough.

Stefanie wrote:little customizations are no problem at all, and i don't see how that would be possible if the source code is actually hidden.

It sounds as if you never used LyX. Why should customization not be possible? LyX simply offers you a nicer way to fill in LaTeX-tags. Any customization is possible -- most of it with the ease of a mouse-click.

Stefanie wrote:i'm also doing lots of stuff that is not possible in WYSIWYG, like extensive use of phonetic symbols, linguistic examples, custom packages,...

Okay, please confess: you never really used LyX long enough, did you? Otherwise you would not have written that sentence.

Stefanie wrote:even if i would use lyx i would have to use source code more than 50% of the time.

It does not seem to me that you actually (feel to) know what you are talking about. Have a go with LyX :)

Stefanie wrote:this is why i'm using kile for the moment. it's the most powerful latex editor i know, and i'm very happy with it. it supports forward and inverse search, so i can easily switch between input and output. the autocompletion function is very useful, i've added my own custom commands to the database and i've assigned a lot of custom shortcuts to some actions. i really believe it's the fastest and most accurate way of typesetting.

If you can use Kile in such a way, it means that you are also using some Linux and that you are a very advanced computer user. Good for you.

But as we are both humanities students, you and me certainly know many fellow who can not for sure tell the difference between Internet Explorer and Firefox (and have problems logging in to E-Learning boards because they are not using FF because they never heard of anything like W3C and so on) and do not know that there are actually other applications than just Word to write a letter or a thesis. If these people encounter a problem, they simply give up. Maybe many of them are able to learn LaTeX if they are patient enough and find a teacher good enough. But let us face it: 99% of the papers in humanities are “typeset” in Word. LyX is a way for these people to access the advantages of LaTeX.

I have a few fellow students who are know trying LyX (because I convinced them) and who still have several difficulties and constantly ask me for help, which I rarely can do via Email, because they even lack the knowledge to tell what the error message means. When I showed them LaTeX they just said: “No. No way. You know, if it is that complicated, I would rather use an old typewriter than this.”

LyX is a nice compromise but even LyX is yet too complicated sometimes (which I think is due to the development of LaTeX from a formula typesetting system to a very advanced typesetting system with many added functionalities; probably LaTeX 3 will solve many of the LaTeX-FAQs and -discussions some day).
A Humanities user of LaTeX :)
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Re: Why LyX?

Postby hazza96 on Wed May 7th, 2008

sveioen wrote:I thought the whole consept of LaTeX was based on the "not-WYSIWYG" idea.

LyX is not WYSIWYG, it is WYSIWYM... the last letter stands for 'Mean'.

In Word (or other word processors) you can select the style "Heading", you can then set the text properties back to the default font, size and shape. In LyX you can't, you select something like "Chapter" but that's it, you can't override the properties.
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Re: Why LyX?

Postby meho_r on Wed May 7th, 2008

hazza96 wrote:In Word (or other word processors) you can select the style "Heading", you can then set the text properties back to the default font, size and shape. In LyX you can't, you select something like "Chapter" but that's it, you can't override the properties.


Well, maybe in the style: "click-here-and-there" you can't, but there is a powerful tool: Preamble. With couple of simple commands one can make in LyX things that with Word he can only dream of. Not to mention investing some time and reading some good LaTeX books and bringing your knowledge and LaTeX skill to higher levels. After that, you'll probably use Word only when need to export .doc document that is send to you in .txt format for use in LyX/LaTeX ;)

I personally like LyX much, although I don't use it extensively (there are few things that are preventing me, but never mind). LyX is indeed a good way to introduce people to the beautiful world of LaTeX. I started that way. At that time I had Kile installed on my Linux system and was wondering "What is this thing? What does it do?" For me: na alien :D LyX was my first contact with LaTeX. And was good one ;) Now I do all book preparations for publishing house I work for in LaTeX. But even now, when I cannot remember some command and don't want to mess with docs, google etc., I simpy run LyX, export the doc to .tex and read the content of it. Really nice to have it around.

BTW, using Kile on Linux system seems to me (and this applies to me, don't know for others) like a logical step forward. Kile + kdvi + kpdf is an ideal combination for work with LaTeX.
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Re: Why LyX?

Postby T3. on Wed May 7th, 2008

LyX seems to have as many proponents as opponents. I've tried it only briefly and I like the idea in general but in practice it falls short of my expectations. It tries to hide LaTeX from user too much IMO rather than make it more accessible.

I think my biggest gripe about LyX is that it uses its own format instead of trying to work on top of vanilla LaTeX sources. While I understand this decision of LyX developers - it makes the implementation so much easier - but it also brings several disadvantages:
  • it relieves the pressure for providing good and extensive support for LaTeX markup
  • usage of templates and documents in LaTeX format becomes cumbersome (due to fragile import)
  • makes collaboration with other LaTeX users more complicated

meho_r wrote:when I cannot remember some command and don't want to mess with docs, google etc., I simpy run LyX, export the doc to .tex and read the content of it.

That's probably one of the easiest ways to learn LaTeX but it's not very convenient for the beginner as one has to export and externally view files quite often. If LyX would use LaTeX as native format you could have a split WYSIWYM/source view of your document and see how your GUI actions affect the markup in the source file in real time. There would also be no more dilemma: GUI or text editor - you could have both.

Just my 2 cents in this discussion.

Cheers,

Tomek

Edit: fixed quotation
Last edited by T3. on Wed May 7th, 2008, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why LyX?

Postby Stefanie on Wed May 7th, 2008

Maksi wrote:Of course, I like provocation -- it makes discussions productive :)


that's ok, as long as you don't take yourself too seriously :-) apparently you're a good person to have discussions with, you don't take things too personal.



Okay, please confess: you never really used LyX long enough, did you? Otherwise you would not have written that sentence.


absolutely true. i really don't know how lyx integrates with certain packages - cgloss4e and tipa, for example. With tipa i can write very unusual symbols. i'm not talking about the plain phonetic script used in english dictionaries, but about letters with hooks, curls, bars, circles, dots, bridges etc under or above them, glottal stops, modified m, n, d, etc symbols. i don't see how lyx would handle these things. i think i'd end up writing source code anyway. if that's not true, convince me of the opposite :-)



If you can use Kile in such a way, it means that you are also using some Linux and that you are a very advanced computer user. Good for you.


i'm rather an intermediate user who's advanced in googling :-) i'm not an expert at all, i just like to experiment with computers. i switched to ubuntu (linux) not so long ago and i'm so glad i made that decision. kile+kdvi+kpdf is so powerful; i used to be very happy with texniccenter (still a decent program) but now i have kile i think i'll never use it again :-)

But as we are both humanities students, you and me certainly know many fellow who can not for sure tell the difference between Internet Explorer and Firefox (and have problems logging in to E-Learning boards because they are not using FF because they never heard of anything like W3C and so on) and do not know that there are actually other applications than just Word to write a letter or a thesis. If these people encounter a problem, they simply give up. Maybe many of them are able to learn LaTeX if they are patient enough and find a teacher good enough. But let us face it: 99% of the papers in humanities are “typeset” in Word. LyX is a way for these people to access the advantages of LaTeX.

I have a few fellow students who are know trying LyX (because I convinced them) and who still have several difficulties and constantly ask me for help, which I rarely can do via Email, because they even lack the knowledge to tell what the error message means. When I showed them LaTeX they just said: “No. No way. You know, if it is that complicated, I would rather use an old typewriter than this.”


of course you're right. i'd recommend kile (and ubuntu) to everyone, but i'd always say that those things are what's best for me, and what's best for me is not necessarily what's best for other people.

of course many other students i know would start screaming in terror if they saw my latex source documents. if lyx can help those people getting accustomed to latex that's a very good thing. but once they get to know latex better i'd still recommend switching from lyx to kile (or texniccenter, if linux is not an option).

i don't think that the added functionalities are exaggerated or useless. you don't have to use them if you want to, and if you're afraid of Evil Red Text ( :twisted: ) you never have to be bothered about it. but there are many people who really need those extra things.
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