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LyX Joins the Google Summer of Code 2013 70

Posted by Soulskill
from the needs-support-for-anti-aircraft-missiles dept.
Hamburg writes "LyX joined this year's Google Summer of Code (GSoC 2013) as a mentoring organization. The LaTeX based open-source GUI LyX has been accepted to the GSoC for the first time. With LyX one can start using LaTeX without being used to 'program' documents. So it's an important entry point to the (La)TeX world, and a bridge between GUI word processors and LaTeX. This is a great opportunity for its development, now student developers can get financial support for contributing new features: successful contributions will earn a stipend of 5000 USD for the student and 500 USD for the organization, in this case the LyX project, who provides mentors to the students. There are already many project ideas, for example a GUI for editing layouts, a presentation mode, EPUB export, an outliner tool for intuitive writing, retina screen (HiDPI) support, and interactive concurrent editing. Would you like to take part, or do you have further ideas for improvements or features? Send your proposals to the lyx-devel mailing list, or simply comment here, what can be suggested to the LyX mentors."
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LyX Joins the Google Summer of Code 2013

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  • by Hamburg (2890317) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @12:02PM (#43440671)
    As I wrote on here on TeX.SE [stackexchange.com], an interface allowing to use to online compilers would be great. So we could have a slim LyX installation while being able to use a maintained up-to-date TeX distribution instead of installing gigabytes locally on each computer. For example the open source LaTeX web API CLSI [github.com] could be used.
    • by Robadob (1800074)
      LyX can export directly to latex .tex code which should compile on online compilers. It may not be as convenient than a button to do it straight away but It should be possible to create a version of LyX without the LaTeX libs. I imagine to directly compile using an online service, LyX would need to host it themselves or come to an agreement with a company who provides the service.
    • by jdleesmiller (2841501) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @12:11PM (#43440713)
      As mentioned on HN (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5537273), this is something we'd be happy to support on writeLaTeX (https://www.writelatex.com). I should also point out that there is a fairly well-established protocol for online latex compilers, namely that of the CLSI (https://github.com/scribtex/clsi), which is maintained by jpallen at ShareLaTeX. So, it should be straightforward to do this in a vendor-neutral way.
    • Or sharelatex [sharelatex.com].

    • Just to rehash what I said on Hacker News, We're in the process of exposing our own compiling API for SpanDeX [spandex.io] already so this is good timing. Another benefit is that features available with online services could also be exposed to LyX users.
    • by jbolden (176878)

      That would seem almost trivial from a coding standpoint. I think the real thing is infrastructure. If you had servers on which the system was authenticated LyX could save files remotely or move then via. ssh. LyX can use an arbitrary TeX including an ssh connect. TeX can accept input streams....

      CLSI sounds cool. I didn't know about it. But IMHO the real issue is who is willing to provide the service.

    • by sivo (2896187)
      This sounds like a really, really cool idea. The only thing I would be concerned about are when you have to use semi-obscure packages, or compatibility issues for when you're working offline (rare these days I know, but it does happen!). Listings package for example has some very notorious backward compatibility issues that are hard to debug, they'll just happen and something won't look right, no errors.
      • LaTeX documents tend to be compiled at short intervals in bursts, every 30 seconds is not uncommon, because every little change needs a recompilation to see its effect. I'm not sure it's cool to do a full network roundtrip every 30 seconds just to see what the effect of a comma is going to be on the paper layout. And what happens if the server is down or busy?

        It seems to me that if you can have an online LaTeX service that's well maintained and can compile documents on demand, why couldn't you also have a

        • At writeLaTeX.com [writelatex.com], we compile automatically, typically every 5s-10s. One of the things that makes it work is that the server can cache most of the stuff that doesn't change often, such as the figures. This does require a bit more sophistication on the client end than just uploading all the inputs for every compile, but it's definitely possible. In terms of packages, we run a full TeXLive distribution on the back end, which covers most things. (But we still have to install CTAN packages on request from time
        • by Anonymous Coward

          LaTeX documents tend to be compiled at short intervals in bursts, every 30 seconds is not uncommon, because every little change needs a recompilation to see its effect.

          You're using TeX wrong, then. You simply don't need to see every little change - at least not when dealing with normal text. You type in hundreds of pages if need be - and you know that it will be laid out nicely because LaTeX always do that well. There may be some corner cases where you need a lot of compiling, but writing normal textual documents is not one of them.

          You look at the document layout once, when finished. Usually, there is nothing to fix.

          • You're just wrong. I love TeX/LaTeX, but it simply can't be used the way you propose. An important reason why is that it doesn't lay out mathematics for you.

            While it's easy to write pages of prose without compiling (since your text editor gives instant feedback anyway) when it comes to typing equations it's a totally manual process with plenty of trial and error that requires frequent recompiling.

            It's extremely hard to see what's going on just from the LaTeX markup alone, when you have lots of indices (

    • it looks great -- for programmers. "normal peopel" will be put off because they have to write code and cannot see it WYSIWYG. That's another reason why we started http://www.fiduswriter.com/ [fiduswriter.com]
    • by fa2k (881632)

      Bah, who cares about a few gigabytes on real computers (including netbooks too). Maybe sysadmins with hundreds of diskless clients care, but with installing TeX on a shared mount, that's no problem. And who worries about updates anymore when there's apt, yum and hundreds of hacked together solutions on Windows. Maybe sysadmins who have hundreds of clients who needs updates, but don't ahve unlimited bandwidth ;) For that, there's local update repos

      Remote compilation is interesting at first glance though bec

  • I'm currently using LYX to write my dissertation report, it does a good job of hiding the latex for basic structures, and you can press ctrl+L at any time if you wish to insert raw latex. My only issue I've had using LYX actually lies with the listings package for latex which isn't LYXs fault. (The listings packages syntax highlighting functionality doesn't easily support the highlighting of the '' in XML syntax without various hacks which temperamental results at best). Although LYX could benefit from a d
    • I strongly disagree, LyX is not a good editor, it is a great one! :-) It's formulas editing is absolutely unmatched. I have switched to pure LaTeX nowadays, but recommend LyX to any student I know.

      A success story from my side: at the university I have used LyX to type down lecture information from a blackboard. I have, of course, shared my pdfs and .lyx files. Later on, even the professor himself has used my documents because he had his lectures written down by hand previously. And I got a part-time job fro

  • by Anonymous Coward

    EPUB output!

    • by DeBaas (470886)

      Fully agree. I wrote two books which I (self) published at Amazon in Lyx. Exporting to HTML and then use Calibre works, but can be tedious.

    • Re:EPUB output! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by jbolden (176878) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @01:11PM (#43441057) Homepage

      What you want is .dvi to EPUB. That's a TeX/LaTeX feature not a LyX feature.

      • by WillAdams (45638)

        No, .dvi is like .pdf:

        - page-oriented
        - positional
        - stripped of semantics.

        One wants a direct conversion which:

        - allows re-flow
        - preserves semantics
        - sets math as mathml

        William
        (who thinks LyX is the most innovative opensource app yet --- I just wish there were a vector drawing app equivalent, something more powerful than xasy for Asymptote, more elegant than metagraf for metapost, as nice as Freehand for postscript)

        • by jbolden (176878)

          There are only two engines, and you would lose the ability to use LyX if you lost the TeX engine. 3 decades ago TeX had something that stripped those issues off dvi2tty. It is easy to drop the page orientation. Mathml may not be needed, TeX can render centered equations using jpgs easily.

          • by WillAdams (45638)

            dvi2tty doesn't preserve semantics.

            It's not easy to decide which paragraphs end at a page break and which don't.

            MathML is needed to interface w/ Computer Algebra Systems.

            JPEGs don't scale.

            • by jbolden (176878)

              dvi2tty doesn't preserve semantics. It's not easy to decide which paragraphs end at a page break and which don't. MathML is needed to interface w/ Computer Algebra Systems.

              Sure but we are talking e-readers here.

              JPEGs don't scale.

              They sort of can be magnified. Beyond that, why do they need to? You want the equation to break in fairly specific ways, that's the whole thing with multi-line equations. You don't want flow on your equations which means you can constrain size.

  • by Coeurderoy (717228) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @12:16PM (#43440747)

    I'm like many other professionalls a "lapsed" Fan of LaTeX, truth be told I started with troff -man and the various ancillary tools of the Unix environment
    What I recognize is that LaTeX (and the roff familly) enables you to create content that is WAY better looking in many ways.

    So why don't I ? in part because I recognized that my investment in *roff was quietly dying off.... so I had to change to something
    Partly because Open Office gave me a "free option" so I "could" go to a wysiwyg solution.

    And because I started to need to exchange documents with people who would write part of it, and if you are not working in academia this means that the probability of working with LaTeX friendly colleage is quite low.

    So what would make me come back...

    If I could have an heuristic tool that reads my .odt (or even the .docx version or the .pdf) analyse the structure, and creates a LaTeX document that has the same content but NOT really the same layout but as close as possible the same structure.

    There are a couple of tools pdf/odt/word to LaTeX but they all try to convert the original document into LaTeX that looks just like the original document.
    What I think would be a game changer would be to have a new document, able to leverage the embedded knowledge in the more common LaTeX templates, and create a tweakable MUCH better looking, new document.

    I would then be happy to use LyX as an entry point for WysiWyg tweaking, and finallly jump into emacs to really finalize my document...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      For text (including lists etc) to me LyX is sufficiently easy to use that I simply paste the text and then format it (using the shortcuts to assign headers, lists etc). Of course if there are a lot of cross-references or formulas, this becomes more complicated. Still the LyX interface is great and adding formulas (once you learn keyboard shortcut and some usual LaTeX math commands to speed up formula writing) is for me about 1/4 of the time for Word. So it is definitely doable. /Anders

    • by jbolden (176878)

      I would then be happy to use LyX as an entry point for WysiWyg tweaking, and finallly jump into emacs to really finalize my document...

      Understand when you are talking LyX you are talking computer generated code not human generated. It can be very complex to modify. You can do minor edits to do things LyX doesn't support (though LyX allows you to do TeX directory) but you aren't going to want to work on a LyX document in a normal text editor as a human for much.

      • by devent (1627873)

        That is what I was talking about. So Lyx basically ties you to Lyx with the new file Lyx-format. But Tex files are human "generated" and by that they are really simple and easy to understand. Lyx replacing that simple human written and understandable language with some computer generated code. So basically it throws Latex away and replaces it with a text like binary format.

        No I can't agree to that. Even if Lyx is generating better looking documents because it's Latex under the hood. But it does by throwing

        • by jbolden (176878)

          You get the picture. I wouldn't quite go as far as binary. But yes you do throw away the advantages of a human readable editable file. LyX is a good crutch for the learning curve for TeX. But ultimately someone is going to want more WYSIWYG or they are going to want learn TeX.

    • by devent (1627873)

      I would rather argue that Tex/Latex is way simpler to learn then any Word Software.
      I don't know about Lyx but it would help to have a one simple Setup.exe for Windows users that installs the Lyx software and setup the most common Latex packages so it's ready to go. On Linux is for course trivial. Just install all texlive packages it be done with it.

      But frankly, I don't really like Lyx. I just try Lyx again and it feels like any Word processor. WYSIWYG horror brought to you to Latex.
      Latex is great because al

      • by devent (1627873)

        BTW; Kile is just that: a simple text editor using the same text editor GUI and engine as Kate and KWrite (simple text editors in KDE). All what the developers have added is buttons for some common Latex commands, a button to compile the Latex code, and previews.

    • by devent (1627873)

      Working with colleagues with Latex is quite simple: each colleague will write the text in whatever he/she likes. The partner will send you the text document (can be text file, ODT file, Microsoft Word file) and you copy and paste the text in the Latex project, and add Latex formats for section, paragraph, footnote, etc. The finished Pdf file can then be distributed.

      • by jgrahn (181062)

        Working with colleagues with Latex is quite simple: each colleague will write the text in whatever he/she likes. The partner will send you the text document (can be text file, ODT file, Microsoft Word file) and you copy and paste the text in the Latex project, and add Latex formats for section, paragraph, footnote, etc.

        Or better: each colleague will check out/clone the project from revision control, write her part of the text in whatever she likes, and commit/push the changes. Then you can touch it up, and it goes back out on review until everyone's satisfied.

        • by rmstar (114746)

          Or better: each colleague will check out/clone the project from revision control, write her part of the text in whatever she likes, and commit/push the changes. Then you can touch it up, and it goes back out on review until everyone's satisfied.

          Theory is that way <==

          Practice over there ==>

          Some people use editors that wrap lines on screen but save it as one long line, and others use editors that wrap it on file too. Enough to mess up any useful version control. And it's not practicable to convinve peop

    • If I could have an heuristic tool that reads my .odt (or even the .docx version or the .pdf) analyse the structure, and creates a LaTeX document that has the same content but NOT really the same layout but as close as possible the same structure.

      I'm thinking of doing something like that, from inside of LibreOffice as a one-click/keypress solution. (Additionally, the same engine could do OOXML imports/exports, the basic idea is roughly the same - have a generic, rule-driven document structure transformer, with some sane way of allowing the user to make custom rules.) But given their slightly differing purposes, I wouldn't go for LaTeX output, I'd go for a ConTeXt one. It feels cleaner to me, and nowadays (we have the LuaTeX days nowadays), it doesn'

    • by WillAdams (45638)

      Use the memoir documentclass --- you can get any desired apearance w/ it.

  • LyX is the fastest interface I have come across for mathematical syntax, due to the great foundations and comprehensive input mapping. It would be lovely to be able to use generally as a notebook, especially if there were some upgrades to the rudimentary CAS (computer algebra system) support included up to V2.

    One feature fundamental to this goal is the parsing of respective CAS languages, obviously, in particular multi-line expressions. In the case of Maxima, I experimented with LyX -> LaTeX -> Maxima

    • by jbolden (176878)

      There are far more feature rich notebooks systems that include more than just TeX: http://www.sagemath.org/tour.html [sagemath.org]
      But if you want primarily TeX plus computer algebra (Maple) it exists but it is commercial. http://www.mackichan.com/ [mackichan.com]

      • by islisis (589694)

        Texmacs is great, I have used it and it performs the features I described better than LyX.
        I am coming from a perspective of how LyX handles input, however, and while admittedly that too is similar I think LyX is far more polished, customisable and holds a bright future =)

        I think Sage will ultimately serve projects where CAS integration is more vital and soluble - my reference to 'notebook' is closer to the traditional kind, but with greater readability by strangers :) LyX and Sage are likely to forever serv

        • by jbolden (176878)

          i haven't played with Texmacs in years. Might be worth trying again.

          I don't know Maxima in terms of CAS. Many years ago I used Maple oriented notebooks and Mathematica ones and they integrated well. But Maxima was at that point very rough, I'd assume things have gotten much better and it makes sense for OpenSource to focus on Maxima.

  • It would be more useful to fix LibreOffice to produce output that looks as good as TeX.

    One forgotten approach comes from Interleaf. Most WYSIWYG word processors today show you only the document - the markup is invisible. The old Word Perfect approach, where you could see the markup characters, or the HTML source approach, is too clunky. But Interleaf showed the output text alongside a column of annotation information. So you could see the difference between a tab indent and a paragraph indent, for exam

    • Most WYSIWYG word processors today show you only the document - the markup is invisible. The old Word Perfect approach, where you could see the markup characters, or the HTML source approach, is too clunky. But Interleaf showed the output text alongside a column of annotation information. So you could see the difference between a tab indent and a paragraph indent, for example. That would be an appropriate way to present fine formatting controls.

      Since we're all comfortable with using tabs (and MS's "Ribbon" is training office-types in tabbed toolbars) perhaps it would make sense to split content-creation and content-design into a separate workspaces? Ie, instead of just tabbed tool-bars, you have tabbed document views. If the Write tab is a WYSIWYG workspace, the design/format tab is then free to not only show formatting, but do so in an intuitive n00b-friendly GUI style. With colours, frames, controls/handles around parts of the document to show f

    • by sivo (2896187)
      If you were saying this in contest of another less meritorious WISYWIG editor, I'd agree with you. However it's not really proper to compare WISYWIG with WISYWYM (what you see is what you mean), and say one should be developed over the other. The goals of the two styles of editing are different, and in some contexts one is more productive than the other. It all depends on the problem you're trying to solve.
    • by jbolden (176878)

      It would be more useful to fix LibreOffice to produce output that looks as good as TeX.

      http://writer2latex.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net] is active for OpenOffice
      http://extensions.libreoffice.org/extension-center/writer2latex-1 [libreoffice.org] is the Libre version though no one is pushing across changes.

  • This goes beyond typical summer of code but what about adding Framemaker type capabilities to LyX. Right now LyX is a word processor that outputs to TeX. What about an entire document authoring and organizational GUI which used LyX / TeX for the lower level stuff. Pull in DocBook.

  • "for example a GUI for editing layouts"

    This! Latex and Lyx are fabulous as long as there's a class file or style file available for whatever format you need, but the second you're preparing something where there's no existing class file, you're screwed unless you want to spend hours with the Lamport book learning the intricacies - something that by definition Lyx is trying to help users avoid. Most of the time there's even something close to what you want - I ended up digging through the Lamport book when

  • Great news. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sivo (2896187) on Saturday April 13, 2013 @03:30PM (#43441885)
    Dude this is awesome. I use LyX all the time even though I'm perfectly fluent and capable with LaTeX. The immediate feedback you get from it means I can spend less time worrying about syntax and more time thinking about mathematics. I often don't even write on the board or on paper, I just go straight to LyX; I'm fast enough typing in it that it's the same.. plus my notes are instantly typeset beautifully. Also not having to do a makefile to handle the massively convoluted commands to compile LaTeX that uses lots of necessary packages (e.g. BiBTeX) is a huge productivity boost.

    LyX does have some failings though. I learned with my thesis that it's not yet ready for a serious long-term multi-document project. Some of the LaTeX details are insufficiently exposed, and so when tweaking is necessary it's difficult to get under the hood and make something happen that needs to happen (like once I couldn't get linebreaks in figure captions.. Simple in LaTeX, but in LyX...) Sometimes when it IS possible to do LaTeX tweaking it won't behave nicely with LyX because LyX isn't technically a LaTeX frontend, it uses its own typesetting language and converts at compile if you want e.g. a pdf in the style of pdflatex. One example of this is putting in \noindent to remove spurious indenting after figures,equations. Put it next to text in LyX and it won't compile even though it's in its own LaTeX environment.

    For small projects those things aren't really a big deal, you get by with a workaround.. but on a huge project like my thesis you have put in so much work and already have a huge base of work that the little things just need to work, because you can't just say "oh well just won't do that thing." Also the errors you get at compile are all LaTeX errors, which even if you're editing a LaTeX document aren't terribly informative, but editing LyX it can be next to impossible to tell where that error is coming from without exporting to LaTeX and looking, which costs time.

    Still.. Fix these things, and LyX has the potential to be a massive productivity tool. Many of the proofs in my thesis I directly began in LyX without working out on paper beforehand, and then edited it for prettiness later. It's the perfect balance between proper typesetting and what mathematics gets presented to the user. WYSIWYM as the LyX folks say, but still usable as a notebook for on-the-fly work.

    Some features I'd love to see is a solid symbolic math interface. It has one currently but it's limited. Scientific Workplace has an *excellent* symbolic interface, and when I used that (which I don't anymore because it's not portable across multiple OS) I had a huge productivity gain. Imagine typing in a frustratingly complicated integral that you need in a proof, and just highlighting it and typing "Ctrl+e" and it spits out the typeset solution before your eyes IN YOUR DOCUMENT. Sure you'll have to edit it down because likely it will exceed margins, or isn't exactly in the form that is most appropriate for the context.. but that's editing work that you'll have to do anywhere anyways. I'd also like to see a better supported nomenclature package, which is currently a tad buggy in LyX (random deleting of nomenclature entries, no way to browse nomenclature entries throughout document without resorting to ctrl+f, etc).
  • LyX is great, but the fact that it is something you need to install on a desktop + the interface makes it look like something from the early 1990s. What is needed is really some thing like Google Docs, but made with latex output in mind. That icnldues citation management, etc. Some friends and I are giving it a shot with Fidus Writer ( http://www.fiduswriter.com/ [fiduswriter.com] ). will be usable and open source very soon, but there is a video and a beta version there already.
    • by sivo (2896187)
      I have thought of this before, but don't have the time as a grad student to commit to coding it. IT's great that others are realizing the value of this possibility. I would be really interested if as in LyX I can type in LaTeX code and have it immediately appear as mathematics: just as in coding, typesetting is most efficiently used when one has immediate feedback of results. Also ways to minimize point-and-click after a certain degree of mastery, I prefer to keep my hands on the keyboard at all times. Inte
      • hey, yes math should be typeable directly in (la)tex code. Mathjax takes care of that bit. Bibtex interoperability is built in. Zotero will be next.
  • Today online work is a minimum requirement for text editors, so LyX should support collaborative work in the same way google docs does. Hey, I wonder how hard it would be to use Google Docs API as a backend for LyX? Then you have the server infrastructure and sharing for free.

    The next thing I really want to se in LyX is WYSIWYG editor for layouts. For business work, LyX is far from being usable.

    • The problem with Google Docs Writer is that it's not a semantic editor. If someone would port Fidus Writer ( http://www.fiduswriter.com/ [fiduswriter.com] ) to use Google Drive as the backend for storage, you would have all of it right there on the web.
  • The 1. missing feature in TeX land is collaboration features. It's not horrible -- you can split the doc into files for different sections (don't know if you can do this in LyX) and use source control or Dropbox -- but it's not particularly elegant. Just having seamless integration with source control would be great: some kind of interactive conflict handling and easy committing of all dependent resources. It could also be useful for single-user projects to have revision tracking. Perhaps the Lyx project co

    • The 1. missing idea from my previous post is the output format. There is no reason to have documents be a stack of pages when they are displayed on a screen. It is absolutely boneheaded. There are solutions for producing HTML from TeX source, this was the first search result: http://hutchinson.belmont.ma.us/tth/ [belmont.ma.us] . I don't know why academics keep ignoring this and keep making PDFs which are only good for printing and for displaying on large monitors. There are many small devices which are better suited for

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