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LyX vs other software

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A place for comments and notes about LyX versus other software that does something similar (Scientific Workplace, Scribus, Word, etc). These comments can emphasize both what is good and what is bad about the way LyX does (or does not do) things.

Table of contents (hide)

  1.   1.  LyX versus Scientific Workplace
  2.   2.  Lyx vs. Word //Open Office
  3.   3.  LyX versus Scribus
  4.   4.  Categories

1.  LyX versus Scientific Workplace

See the page LyX vs Scientific Workplace by Jan Peters.

2.  Lyx vs. Word //Open Office

I have used word to write a lot of reports for my study and I have used Open Office to write my diploma thesis. (I would say I have some experience with both of them.) I am using Lyx (1.51 at the moment) on WindowsXP now for some months to write my thesis. (P.S.: I have never read the documentation and had up to now no problem with it ;-))

This few lines are especially intended for people which are thinking about switching to Lyx from your favored word processor to write papers, diploma thesis, reports, Books or else.

  • Installation

It is as easy to install Lyx on WindowsXp as it is to install word/OO. Download the 10MB installer, Be a little patient and click Yes Yes Yes ;-)

  • The Look and Feel

This point goes to Word/OO. At the first glance the Lyx gui looks somewhat crude and is missing some important things that many people would expect to find in a word processor. Have you seen the new Word 2007 gui. It really kicks ass regarding the user friendliness. I could insert a Table of content in seconds, which took me hours to find in word 2000. In my opinion the Gui is the point where Lyx has the most chances to improve. (It has been a lot of requests regarding the gui so I don't list them here again.) But you should not be discouraged by the gui of lyx. This word processor offers much more than its gui can tell. The great thing is that options you can't find in the gui can still be used with the direct Tex input.

  • The Way of Writing

This is the key feature of Lyx which is worth of switching to it. With Word//OO the writing process is an endless loop of writing a bit, doing the format, writing a bit,... Lyx is all about writing. You do not have to bother about formating. I give an advise to all newcommers: Don`t try to enhance the format of the document that Lyx will do for you. You can't enhance it! Don't worry about fonts sizes and stuff like this. Lyx (Latex) is doing an extraordinary good job in formating documents. The way to go with lyx is to get an template of a similar document you want to produce and just write your stuff. (I have started the work on my thesis with a google search for "Lyx thesis template" and I found a template from my university) After you found a proper template, you don't have to worry about the format any more.

  • The Result

Have you ever compared a thesis written in word/OO with a thesis written in latex/Lyx? The output of word is so ugly. The biggest problem with word/OO is that every user tries to enhance the formating and makes it even worse!

  • Doing Maths

Another big point for Lyx. The easiest way to write math in Lyx is to know a few Latex commands. After you are familiar with a few simple commands (e.G.: _ ^ \int \phi \sum... ), writing formulas is a breeze. The formulas that Lyx produces will always look great in every resolution. And who has ever tried to number and cite formulas in word knows that it will take you hours.

  • Table of Content, Citation, Bibliography

Who ever tried to implement all the nessesary features for a scientific document in Word can tell how complicated it can get. Lyx/Latex gives you all of that out of the box! No hassle with page numberings on the title page or in the TOC and you can find very good Software for managing your bibliography files. (For beginners: Try to use Jabref to generate a Bibtex bibliography and use it in Lyx)

  • Stability

I have seen a lot of people who have lost a lot of data in a word document which was unreadable after a while. I have up to know never had a data loss problem in Lyx. The fact that the text and structure is separated from the pictures and is stored in a simple text file gives me the feeling that this will not happen soon. However I have encountered still some crashes of Lyx 1.51 in Windows Xp. With some workarounds crashes are avoidable but at the beginning they are still annoying. (I would guess these crashes are related to the windows port, see below)

  • What can Lyx learn from Word/OO

The 3 things Lyx can learn from Word/OO are:

  1. underlining misspelled words (is there no Way implementing the Mozilla spelling correction in Lyx???)
  2. especially form word 2007 the user friendly gui.
  3. Stability (relating the Windows port of 1.51)
  • What can Word/OO learn from Lyx

I don't care :-)

  • Summary

For scientific documents there is no way around Lyx/Latex. Word is not a real competitor in this segment. Word is great for writing a letter. Lyx is great for writing scientific documents with 20+ pages with a lot of citation pictures, formulas, numbering, etc. etc... I would encourage absolutely beginners as well as latex pros to use Lyx for writing scientific documents. Try it, you will love it.

  • crashes winxp lyx 1.51

Don't use the Button for inserting floating objects, this produces crashes every now and then! Try to copy and paste another floating object. With this tactic I have not seen a crash in the last 50 hours of usage. Anyway, save often in the beginning.

3.  LyX versus Scribus

The text below is copeid from Len Denhams post on the users' list.

On Friday 20 July 2007 12:33, Steve Litt wrote:
> Hi all,
> I've just heard about a program called Scribus, which supposedly is a page
> layout program and not a wordprocessing program. The program's web page is
> at
> I'm not familiar with Scribus. Can someone tell me the differences between
> LyX and Scribus?

I've used LyX for about five years, and Scribus for about one.

LyX is far more useful to me, but Scribus has its uses.

LyX takes care of the layout automatically; Scribus practically demands that
you lay every page out individually (sketching the page layout on paper is 
recommended as the first step).

LyX is highly suited to writing text; Scribus is not recommended for writing

LyX adheres to accepted typesetting conventions; Scribus lets you mess
things up completely.

LyX places figures and tables automatically; Scribus lets (makes) you put
each one wherever you want it.

LyX has great support for crossreferencing and bibliographies; Scribus has 

LyX is easy to learn; Scribus is not.

Scribus allows you to put a graphic item exactly where you want it, and to 
overlay multiple graphic and text items with varying degrees of
transparency; LyX does not.

LyX is a lightweight program which runs happily on almost any computer; 
Scribus has brought my Athlon 64 X2 workstation with 2GB RAM to its knees.

Scribus allows use of any font installed on your computer, and can scale and
distort it any way you want; LyX does not support this.

Scribus has complex color management for text, graphics and lines; LyX has 
limited color support.

I've used LyX for letters, reports, books, articles and presentations (with 
Powerdot) ranging from a single page of text to hundreds of pages with 
hundreds of figures.

I've used Scribus only for a couple of poster papers, and found it an 
excellent tool for the job.  I completed six posters 6ft x 3ft in about a 
week; each poster has about ten text boxes and about five pictures.

I'd use Scribus for a brochure or poster without hesitation; it might also
be best for a short newsletter.


4.  Categories

Category: LyX vs other software

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Page last modified on 2011-03-11 21:32 UTC