Back to Latex

I always used to love Latex. There was a time that everything I wrote was done in Latex.

For some odd reason that I still can’t comprehend, I began using Docbook more and more a few years ago. I guess I was swept away by the “XML is great so we must use it for everything” wave. Maybe I was also influenced by the fact that many documentation projects use Docbook. And if everybody else is using it, then it must be good, right? Wrong.

I am working on writing some training manuals on Ruby, and I started off in Docbook. But Docbook always gets in your face. There are more tags than text in the document. Obviously you spend most of your time typing tags. That is, when you are not busy looking through the list of available tags, trying to find a suitable one.

But that’s only the beginning. Next you will have to fight with xsltproc (usually not a big problem) and fop (usually a very big problem). The output quality leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve tried several times to get syntax highlighted code inserted into my documents, but each time it has failed miserably.

Before anybody complains: I know that Docbook is superior and that Latex is old, outdated and useless. But I really don’t care. I can get actual work done in Latex, it doesn’t constantly annoy me and it actually makes working on documents fun. Getting PDFs is a breeze and the output quality is high. Syntax highlighted code is not a problem at all, with the great listings package.

To conclude: I’m back to using Latex, and I am absolutely loving it. If you are also frustrated with Docbook and its toolchain, maybe you should look into Latex. The mindless drones will of course do everything they can to keep you using Docbook, but don’t mind them.

Published in: on 2006.09.13 at 19:38  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Lorenzo –

    Just heard about your blog on another blog that was part of an aggregated feed of blogs …

    I love the stuff you are working on — keep writing about it. I have often thought I should just go back to LaTex for my own documentation. I wrote my senior thesis in it, and nothing has ever matched.

    Keep hacking –

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