Hey Latex users, I have an idea for you ...
Sun, Dec 15, 2013
Latex is compelling because of:
- The many OSs and UIs supported,
- It's after-a-while familiar and sort-of predictable behavior,
- The complexity of symbolic and graphical expression facilities available, provided by
- A rich ecosystem of domain-specific typesetting, graphics, symbols and other generation tools.
- And, of course, its ability to output in the favorite
PDF format (albeit not in many other favorite formats).
- Ah! It's spectacular type-setting languages and abilities, as well. (They are the hidden core now.)
Latex comes with a lot of liability too.
- It produces “dead” documents, whose faint attempt at modernity are clickable links.
- It is incompatible with almost all but the most advanced information crawling and organizing technologies,
for its lack of meaningful meta information.
- It is grossly non-interoperable with other modern scientific tools, and mainly it is
unable to embed interactive (i.e. “non-dead”) content generated by other tools.
As a result one often finds
Latex embedded, but one rarely finds oneself embedded in
Latex documents don't breathe.
Fear not. A simple alternative exists.
I was somewhat pleased to realize that a workflow I had been unwittingly evolving over time
is proving to be a simpler, more expressive, more standards-compatible and overall more breathable
Latex which compels to not look back.
Simpler than one would expects:
- Starting with a favorite choice of a high-level and/or templating language,
- One spends little time in evolving personal shortcuts,
- That generate HTML content,
- Empowered in expression by an endless, but standardized, spectrum of supporting technologies like MathJax,
- Topping off this mixture with every browser's ability to print their pages to
- Noting that while you were at it, your documents had gained full access to programmable expression in linguistic means of any choice,
going as far as being able to have access to cluster computation resources backed on the other end of the globe, dynamically, in real time.
So this makes me wonder:
Would some academic conference institutions glean to dedicate a moment of their time
to prepare this modern workflow for their authors — just like they had prepared
Latex workflow before — in order to help the academic expression move
to the age of interactivity and reproducibility.
The strongest force, it seems, that keeps academia in
Latex is that it is
required, literally, by the publisher, as the scientist's end result. For their legendary
lack of time, scientists naturally choose to hone their skills in Latex (and get the
best of it) instead of volunteering their time to produce expressions into multiple
I would go as far as to speculate that should the publishing-side of the academic business
HTML format, no academic would ever think to look back.