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cyocum (7706)

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An American post-graduate student living in Scotland.

Journal of cyocum (7706)

Wednesday May 09, 2007
04:47 AM

LaTeX, Editorial Comments, and the Humanities

[ #33228 ]

As one of the few people getting a degree in the Humanities (Celtic Studies) and using LaTeX to write my dissertation, it can be a bit disconcerting when people rant and rave about the problems of Word but seem reluctant to have anything to do with an alternate solution.

I often ask people to read and comment on my work. This has become a bit of a problem because my friends hate looking at LaTeX code. One of them has gone so far as to blame LaTeX for some of my own writing problems. I have resorted to printing off copies (the Computer Science department has free printing so I use a friend there to print off copies for comments). This is not the best solution by any means and is a waste of paper.

I was poking around Adobe Acrobat and I found out that there is a comment feature in it. After wandering around the web for a while, I discovered that you have to pay Adobe a mint to get that functionality. It seems that PDF was never meant to be edited directly.

I am not sure at this point on what to do if I want electronic comments on my dissertation. If I compile into PDF, I can only send hard copy. If I send a straight LaTeX file, I get a continuous whine about it not "looking right" and questions about all the commands. People, it seems to me, have become so sensitive to the look of something that they have completely forgotten about the content. I have thought of using "detex" to strip the LaTeX commands out but I suspect that if I do that then I will get "where are all the footnotes?" questions.

I am still looking for a good solution to the editorial comments in LaTeX for the humanities problem. I might contact some of the people in the LaTeX community to see if there is a solution out there that I have not been able to get google to spit out.

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  • Export your latex to a (mediawiki) wiki page. []

    Anyone with a web browser can then access it. Mediawiki has the ability to require logins before editting, or just let world+dog go wild. Standard http authentication if you want better security.

    You get revision control, easy diffs of who changed what and when, and the ability to embed links. Heck, you can have an RSS feed of changes if you want, all built in.

    The only downside I can see here is merging chan
    • That's a really interesting idea. I already use Subversion to keep track of changes. In any case, I would have to manually make changes even if I had the comment feature in Adobe Acrobat. Also, There is a program to convert LaTeX to HTML so that might ease the way a bit.

      The only problem that I see in setting this up is that I don't have ready access to a web server that I could put mediawiki on at the moment. However, this is defiantly something to look into further. Thanks!

  • It does a good job of converting the text, not so much for images and equations.

    I haven't read too many good things about the latex2html conversions.
    • Thanks, I remember seeing something about it. I will give it a go and see how it does. I know what you mean and I cannot expect any format translation to be perfect.