Friday, August 31, 2007

More LaTeX goodness

Yeah, I'm boring, but I figured I'd pass along some tidbits. Most of my technical goodies I discover or do at work, which really limits what I can blog about. However, this one I can.

You see, I don't like MS Word, just like lord knows how many people. So, when I had to do some documentation recently, like documenting potential requirements or documenting some design ideas, I decided not to use it. They way I figure it, it won't go to a customer, so why should I bother? Besides, I seem to get it done faster in gVim and I want to get some practice for when I really decide to use it.

Overall, I must say it worked well. Images are included very easily. Just needed some tweaking to get the sizes right and all is good. I even got one image to sit on the right-hand side of the document with the text wrapping around it. No fighting or anything. It just works. Sweet!

Now, I did several documents recently using LaTeX, one was an outline that I felt would be better to do on a computer than paper: easier to reorganize. Today however, I was documenting some potential requirements. Nothing big. I figured I'd do it as a table and when done, get it into an RTF Document and finally a Word document. Needless to say, it was pretty damn easy. The only trouble I came across was that the one table I created was pretty long. Turns out there's a package that comes with MiKTeX, and maybe regular LaTeX, called longtable that handles that. Here's a link:

http://www.astro.psu.edu/gradinfo/psuthesis/longtable.html


The only other thing I did was I found a LaTeX class that makes a document look like it was formatted in Word. I can't remember the name of it. I think it was wordstyle, but I can't remember.

The result was pretty good. I had to adjust some margins and the table cell widths. The only real bug was that the LaTeX to RTF tool didn't understand the longtable package, so I ended up having the header displayed twice. Whoopee. I deleted the one row and went on my merry way.

This will be strange to say, but I enjoyed the experience. This either means that I really like working with LaTeX or I'm just that bored at work. Either way, it seems much easier and nicer to work on documents in gVim than MS Word or even OpenOffice.org, which is relatively sane.

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