Comments on 2010-06-30 LaTeX vs. Docbook

Have you tried txt2tags? It’s easily my favourite light text formatting system and converts cleanly to pretty much everything including LaTeX, html and MediaWiki. This makes it an ideal “write once, publish anywhere” format.

To create a .pdf, use

txt2tags -t lout file.t2t lout -Z file.lout > file.pdf


greywulf 2010-06-30 17:50 UTC

Surprising verdict. I thought for sure you’d go Wiki. At least you were impartial: Seems you’ve consistently held a strong bias against and it still won the shootout.

AaronHawley 2010-06-30 19:50 UTC

As for txt2tags and similar formats: I suspect that they won’t do for the kind of documents I’d like to typeset – it’s a wiki-markup but not quite. Lightweight markup languages like Markdown, Textile, or Creole still have no hyphenation and final layout happens in a target environment like HTML/CSS or LaTeX – while that solves the hyphenation issue it just returns me to the issues I have with LaTeX itself: If I want to fiddle with it, create new document classes, new styles, understand images, positioning, pagination, table formatting, then I have to understand the arcane intricacies of TeX. Given that choice, I think I’d rather use my own wiki for these situations.

AlexSchroeder 2010-06-30 22:40 UTC

The canonical beginner text to LaTeX is the (Not So) Short Introduction to LaTeX. Though I have found TUGIndia’s LaTeX primer very useful. LaTeX does have a bunch of neat packages that sort of bring it into mainstream typesetting (as opposed to academic publications). TeXlive has made it easier to manage various packages. But to overrule LaTeX’s idea of what is right demands you to get your hands really dirty.

Personally, I just type in org-mode and publish in HTML or PDF (via LaTeX).

Have fun with Openoffice. Damn thing needed Java for macros when I last used it.

AlokSingh 2010-07-01 03:03 UTC

Ever considered using something like LyX? I wrote my diploma thesis with that one the results were really impressive. Its still LaTeX in the end so I dont know if the table would look better but you at least dont have to remember any cryptic tags and whatnot...

– Florian 2010-07-01 07:12 UTC

I’m trying to reformat this LaTeX document... This could be an interesting alternative. But after searching for quite a while I was unable to pick an arbitrary font for the title, for example. I guess that makes sense given that LaTeX requires some setup before new fonts become usable to the system.

I decided to give rst2pdf another try. Emacs comes with Table Mode which allows me to edit rst grid tables. It doesn’t look bad at all! So now I wanted to try to font embedding. I have trouble understanding the rst2pdf stylesheet. The following no longer produces errors, but appears to have no effect. 😟

    "embeddedFonts" : ["Blackwood Castle"],
    "heading1" : { 
            "parent": "normal", 
            "fontName": "Blackwood Castle", 
            "fontSize": 18, 
            "keepWithNext": true, 
            "spaceAfter": 6 

The manual provides the following as an example: ["heading1" , { ... }] which results in an “non-string key” error. I noticed I didn’t have fc-match available and reinstalled fontconfig on this Mac OS 10.4 – which now results in a different error. Whenever the stylesheet contains the embeddedFonts directive, I get the error Error registering font: VeraBd from /usr/X11R6/lib/X11/fonts/TTF/VeraBd.ttf – ugh. And of course my fonts are not in the X11 directory... Maybe I’ll try that again on my laptop running Ubuntu.

AlexSchroeder 2010-07-02 09:00 UTC

Brad Murray aka @bradjmurray said on Twitter:

@kensanata I discovered that what I am really doing when trying to select a technology is avoiding writing because tech is fun. 😀 Pick one.

The time I wasted proves him right! 🙂

AlexSchroeder 2010-07-02 11:41 UTC

Updated the main article with rst2pdf results...

AlexSchroeder 2010-07-04 03:24 UTC

This is definitely not the right way to deal with DocBook. The point of DocBook is to deal with it using some IDE that helps you as you go along. I am pretty sure Emacs already has an extension to help deal with DocBook markup.

In some sense, if you have trouble with LaTeX/DocBook, the problem is with you. LaTeX, which I am versed in, is very much about helping the user, the terseness of which is because it is in high demand. It is appalling that you had difficulty finding good documentation for it, since it is one of the best documented stuff out there on the web. Of course, if you use them so rarely as to forget about them, it is understandable that you would fallback upon wiki/OO.o.

Please do repeat your experiment – it is really important to understand the differences between LaTeX/DocBook when proficient.

– burning, 2010-11-20 18:02 UTC

So what IDE is recommended for DocBook?

– PierreGaston 2010-11-22 07:12 UTC

Next time I should look at markdown + pandoc.

AlexSchroeder 2014-06-23 08:29 UTC

Here’s a project using markdown and pandoc: Solar Fantasy.

– Alex Schroeder 2017-12-13 16:14 UTC

Using Markdown → HTML → PDF with weasyprint: Spellcasters.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-08-28 05:48 UTC

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