NorthernJourney.com: Linux for Newbies, pt. 20: Document Processing - with LaTeX
Feb 19, 2001, 18:38 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Gene Wilburn)
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"Contrary to popular belief, word processors go about their
business in the wrong way. They're interlopers in the land of
Unix--violating four time-proven Unix principles:
- You should be able to create all source files (including word
processing documents) with your preferred text editor (vi and emacs
being the prevailing standards).
- All files should be portable and accessible to the Unix
toolkit; that is, they should exist as ASCII text. You should have
no trouble running your source files through grep, sed, awk, wc or
whatever you choose.
- Structure is more important than appearance.
- Look and feel (appearance) processing should be handled by
programs external to your source files."
"This stands the world of WYSIWYG word processing on its head. You
cannot work directly on Word or WordPerfect files due to their
binary nature. You must use the program that created them to
manipulate the contents--a dangerous strategy for long-term use.
You eventually get releases of a product that no longer willingly
load older binaries. Cross-platform support among word processors
is an ongoing issue."
"So what's the pro-Unix answer to this? You guessed it: text
processing, better known these days as document processing.
Document processing works in much the same way that the Web does:
i.e., on the Web, HTML documents are text files containing markup
code. ... If you've already created HTML documents by hand,
you're well on your way. You just need to change the nature of the
markup tags. Most LaTeX instructions are preceded by a backslash
("\") and have fairly intuitive names. As with an HTML page, LaTeX
documents have begin and end tags, a header, and a body, as well as
additional structural elements that go beyond HTML."