[Novalug] Replacement for abiword?? -- lightweight markup languages
pereira at speakeasy.net
Mon Jan 22 10:02:53 EST 2007
FYI, Greg and I both mentioned (La)TeX, but no one said anything
about the others.
Let me compliment you on a very helpful response: I wish everyone
on this list did it as well as you. Barely intelligible, rapid-fire
responses are satisfying to the writer, but mostly noise and a
waste of bandwidth to almost all others, sometimes including
On Mon, 2007-01-22 at 09:10 -0500, Michael Henry wrote:
> Beartooth wrote:
> > With apologies for the bandwidth, I now have a short list of likely
> > apps which I can put onto Jo's machine yet tonight or tomorrow, and let
> > her get started choosing between.
> > Many many thanks to all!
> There's another approach that I didn't see in the thread (my apologies
> if someone has already mentioned this). You can use one of the
> lightweight markup languages to write your text, then convert the markup
> to another format as desired. Markdown and reStructuredText come
> to mind first, though there are probably other worthy choices.
> One of the benefits of using a markup language is that you write your
> documents in plain text. For your application, nearly all of the
> content of your document would be simple text, just like you see in this
> email message - simply plain English words, typed into your document
> just like you'd type on a typewriter.
> Plain text, by itself, has almost no direct support for "formatting"
> your document. Changing fonts, making text bold or italic, and other
> issues of typesetting require some extension to the "typewriter" model
> of document entry. Loosely speaking, there are two main ways to
> accomplish the goal of adding formatting to your typed document.
> In the "word processor" model, you type your document into a specialized
> word processing program. When you want to change the look of a
> particular piece of text, you highlight it and select a menu option that
> applies some formatting (e.g., making a word bold or italic). Because
> this formatting is a form of meta-data, something special must be
> done to store the formatting along with the text of your document.
> Often, your text and the formatting metadata are combined and stored in
> a "custom" format in a (typically binary) file. This custom format is
> frequently specific to the particular word processing program, and is
> therefore not usable directly by other word processing programs (though
> there are efforts to standardize on some open formats such as the Open
> Document Format). Because of the custom file format, the tools
> available for manipulating the document are limited.
> In the "markup" model, the writer intermingles his own prose with
> formatting metadata. Both the prose and the metadata are written in
> plain text, following some structured rules defined by the markup
> language. For example, in an email it is conventional to emphasize a
> word by surrounding it with *asterisks*. To a human reading the email
> in plain text format, the asterisks do serve to make the emphasized word
> visually stand out. If the author takes care to follow the rules of the
> markup language, it is also possible for a program to interpret the
> marked up text. Such a program could convert the document into any
> number of other representations, such as the aforementioned custom word
> processor document format, or into HTML for publication to the web, or
> into a PDF document, etc. If you'd like to try out a markup language to
> see how well it works for you, you can try the Markdown dingus. It
> lets you type some Markdown-formatted text into a web form and click a
> button to see the resulting formatted output.
> There are several advantages to using a plain text markup language.
> Plain text is universal. There will always be tools for reading plain
> text files, so your documents are "future proof". There are hundreds
> (thousands?) of "plain text" editors that are designed for
> capturing your keystrokes and generating a plain text file. You can
> learn the rules of the markup language once, and apply those rules using
> any text editor on any platform from now on. You can search your files
> easily using standard tools like grep.
> For your purposes, I'd look toward lightweight markup languages such as
> Markdown and reStructuredText. Documents employing these languages are
> easy to read and write in their marked-up plain text format. Since you
> are not planning to typeset mathematics, enter tables, or perform other
> fancy formatting tricks, you probably would have all the power you need
> without needing to traverse the steep learning curve of fancier markup
> languages. By the way, HTML is itself a markup language (that's the
> "ML" in "HTML"). So is XML. Both TeX (Donald Knuth's brilliant
> typesetting package) and LaTeX (Leslie Lamport's macro package that
> extends TeX) are markup languages of great power and commensurate
> learning curve. These other markup languages all have their place, and
> you may decide to learn them as well. But given the simple learning
> curve of Markdown and reStructuredText, and the fact that you can later
> convert them into HTML or another format, you might just want to setup
> Jo with an arbitrarily chosen text editor and set her to work typing up
> her prose. You can always go back and add in formatting markup later
> (anything from lightweight formatting, to whole-hog TeX/LaTeX). In
> fact, if you decide in the end that you want to go the word processing
> route, you can always simply open your text document and begin adding
> formatting using the word processor's custom formatting options. Also,
> if you've already selected a word processor as the method of text entry,
> you can simply save the document in a plain text format such that you
> can still use a markup language for formatting if you so desire.
> Good luck with your decision,
> Michael Henry
> : http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/
> : http://docutils.sourceforge.net/rst.html
> : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markup_language
> : http://www.bellevuelinux.org/plain_text.html
> : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metadata
> : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenDocument
> : http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/dingus
> : http://kate-editor.org/
> : http://www.gnome.org/projects/gedit/
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