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About the new features in LyX 1.4

What's new in LyX 1.4?
The LyX Team
July 2005

It's been a long time since LyX 1.3.0 was released (on February 7, 2003). What new goodies does LyX 1.4 have?

New menu layout

LyX 1.4 has a re-designed layout for the menus, designed to decrease clutter and maximise productivity. Several menu items (in the Edit menu) are now context-sensitive, so they only appear when needed. For the die-hard old LyX users, the older layout (referred to as the classic UI) is still available, for now.

Multiple toolbars

It's now possible to define multiple toolbars as seen in other editors. By default, the new LyX release has two toolbars displayed, the standard one (similar to the static toolbar in LyX 1.3), plus the extra toolbar:

In addition, there are two pre-defined toolbars available: one for tables, and one for math. You can enable this in the UI by right clicking on the toolbars, and selecting the item:

The default math / table toolbars look like this:

For 1.3 users wondering about the minibuffer, this is still available as a toolbar; in addition it automatically appears when using the shortcut for entering a command (Alt-x).

All of these toolbars are customisable: by the usual method of copying the UI files into the personal LyX directory, the toolbars and their contents can be set to whatever's needed. Another new feature worth mentioning is popup toolbars: you can set a toolbar such that it only appears when editing math, or when editing a table.

Change tracking

This new feature, similar to that found in Microsoft Word and others, makes collaboration on a document a cinch. It provides a way to track changes made to a document, and later approve, reject, or modify such changes. To freeze a document for change tracking, use the Document→Change Tracking menu:

When enabled, any edits made to a document are tracked. Deleted text is marked in red and struck through, whilst added text is marked in blue; in addition a changebar is added to the margin. With the dvipost software installed, such marks can even be exported to PostScript and PDF.

Send a change-tracked document off for review to a colleague, and let them make changes - when you receive it back, you can use the Merge Changes dialog to review his changes.

Once all marked changes have been processed, change tracking can be disabled again to allow normal editing.

Much better conversion from .tex to .lyx

The ancient and unloved Perl script, reLyX has finally bitten the dust and been replaced by the brand new and shiny tex2lyx. tex2lyx's LaTeX parser follows most of the rules of the real TeX and so is already much more powerful than reLyX ever was.

Character styles

For a system that purports to make it easy to write documents full of logical (as opposed to visual) markup, LyX has always had one glaring omission: no character styles. LyX 1.4 goes some way towards addressing this defect, although there's no dialog to define your own styles. Indeed, there doesn't appear to be a menu to insert a new character style either.

So, we're forced to use the minibuffer. Typing Alt-x in the LyX screen will cause the minibuffer at the bottom of the window to be displayed:

allowing you to input the command charstyle-insert name where name is the name of your character style. (Use the tab and arrow keys to help auto-complete your entry.) Pressing Return will create a "Char style inset" in the main LyX window. If LyX recognizes the name of this character style, a blue label will be displayed:

The markup (both on screen and on export) for this particular character style is defined in layouts/db_stdcharstyles.inc.

If LyX does not recognize the name of the character style, you'll get no markup and an angry red label:

Tag me


The teacher who's setting an exam obviously doesn't want her pupils seeing the answers, yet having questions and answers in the same document will make the life of the markers of that exam much easier.

That's just one example of someone who would benefit from LyX's new "branches" feature. In fact, anyone who writes documents which have more than one target audience will find this feature useful.

First, you must create your branches using the Document→Settings... dialog:

The name of the branch, it's activation state (whether its contents will be output in the exported document) and the background colour of the view on the LyX screen can all be specified in this dialog.

Thereafter, adding a "branch inset" is simply a matter of selecting the appropriate menu item:

Minipages evolve to Boxes

In 1.3, LyX only had native support for plain minipages. Now you can use a wide range of box types and decorations directly from the LyX GUI:


LyX now has three different Notes for you to add to your document from the Insert→Note menu:

  • the "LyX Note" is not exported to LaTeX, as now.
  • The "Comment" is exported to LaTeX as a comment environment and is not processed further:
    \begin{comment} This is a {}``Comment''. It appears in both \LyX{} and \LaTeX{} documents but is not compiled by the latex compiler.% \end{comment}
  • The Greyed Out note is visible in your PostScript or PDF output as, well, greyed-out text.

Better language and numbering on screen

Two features help to make the screen rendering closer to the printed output:

  • the labels attached to layouts like Chapter are now translated in the language of the document, which may be different from the language of the menus;
  • sectioning headers and theorems are now numbered according to the document class specifications.

Word count

Yes, it's finally there! Tools→Count Words will give you a word count of the document or of the current selection.

Error Lists

Nasty "error boxes" were eliminated in favor of a dialog with a list of errors popping up at compilation time:

Improved bibliography support

  • LyX's support for natbib has been enhanced. Now, also the mysterious "before citation" field is supported;
  • We have added support for jurabib, an amazing package to produce flexible citations that are especially well suited for the humanities and law fields;
  • Support for sectioned bibliographies (bibtopic) has been added;
  • the way bibtex is called is now customizable (as is the way the index processor is invoked).

Improved microtypography support

LyX aims to produce superior typography. With 1.4, it supports:

  • more blank characters (e.g. a "thin space", which should stand here between "e." and "g.");
  • inner and outer quotation marks without the hassle of toggling the style in the documents dialog. Just use the Alt key.
  • the handling of figure and table alignment inside floats has been improved. You can now use the paragraph dialog without getting too much space between figure/table and caption.

Small bits

  • Figure and table floats can be rotated sideways
  • cross references to labels of formulas can now have parentheses surrounding the formula number
  • The external xfig inset has been improved especially with regard to pdf generation
  • The graphics inset dialog has now an "edit" button that allows to edit the included figure
  • For index generation, xindy can be used instead of makeindex, which has poor support for other than English index sorting.

Bug fixes

Lots of long-lasting bugs have been fixed, as documented in LyX bugzilla. Probably some new ones have been introduced instead ;-)

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Page last modified on 2010-09-21 01:02 CEST