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Lyx vs Scientific Workplace

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Please note that this comparison is written on heavily outdated versions of both packages. Most of things written here do not apply anymore either in LyX or in Scientific workplace. To continue reading is most probably waste of your time.

What LyX can learn from Scientfic Workplace - comments by Jan. Also see LyX vs other software.

1.  General Statement

I have been using Scientific Workplace (SWP) since my first year at Technical University of Munich in 1996 and I remain a big fan of it to date. However, I am very unhappy that SWP has *only* a windows version which runs okayish under Linux+Wine but to date I can only run it below Virtual PC with Windows NT (it hurts!) on my facorite computer, i.e., a Mac. I even own a version for Mac OS 9 which I bought over ebay ... which barely runs in today's classic environment. I have tried all kinda replacements where LyX is probably the most prominent but the list is much longer. While LyX improves at an incredible rate (expecially given its few but very hard-working developers), SWP has been fairly stagnant. I have not switched to Lyx for good yet but use it on and off ... and check when the time has come. Ever since 1.4.0, I have the feeling that the time will be very soon. The page is mirrored on my homepage and can be found here.

I hope this will not cost me any friends... I love what you guys are doing and LyX has truly become amazing.

The points are ranked by importance. If the first point was implemented in a way that editing equations in Lyx could beat editing equations in MathType, there would be tons of people switching ...

2.  What Lyx can learn from Scientific Workplace?

2.1  Toolbars for Easy Equation Editing

The toolbars of Lyx still not really useful enough. SWP toolbars are not only reconfigureable by mouseclick, they also have the complete math panel integrated. Can't the math panel be moved to the toolbar? I would be much, much happier with lyx if every math function could be reached from the toolbar. Especially beginners will need this ease of use! Ideally, math in LyX should be as easy as in mathtype or scientific workplace!!!

Re: math panel is toolbar in recent versions of LyX

2.2  Search parts of Equations and replace them

Search and replace of parts of equations in SWP is really cool.

Re: This is possible as of LyX 2.0

2.3  Awesome math integration

The math functions of SWP are awesome. Lyx has basic math functionality which is actually pretty good - if it just had vector-matrix calculus, graphics and a menu.

Re: there is limited binding to external packages like maxima/mathematica/maple. Graphics editing won't be implemented, however editing of graphics is possible via binding to other sofware (context menu bindings are possible). When picture is externaly changed, LyX automatically detects it.

2.4  Nice looking uncompiled math

The way equations look in the on screen mode is still annoying in comparison. Just look at this comparison:

Re: LyX has instant preview now

2.5  Natural equation editing

The editing of equations is much more natural in SWP than in LyX. While this can be configure, I still wonder why do I have to press Shift+Enter in Lyx for a new line in a equation instead of just Enter? Why doesn't equation editing feel as natural as in MathType or Word Equation editor? All it would need is a few keyboard shortcuts to be changed!

Re: it is difficult to react/improve here unless particular list of proposed changes is done.

2.6  Theorem-style environments

Scientific Workplace has a straightforward integration of environments such as Proofs, Propositions, Examples, etc. For incomprehensible reasons, LyX does not offer such environments in a coherent fashion. However, it has been promised for 1.4.x.

Re: This has been solved by theorem modules, as of 2.0 - environments are even automatically translated into various languages.

3.  What Scientific Workplace can learn from LyX?

  2. Change tracking is a key feature - Lyx can do it, SWP cannot.
  3. No instant preview of equations - a great feature of Lyx which even scales with the text size (very nice).
  4. Many, many tex files will not be accepted from SWP despite that tex is its native format. Especially in recent times! Lyx on the other hand has become PERFECT in this respect.
  5. The table of contents is nicely integrated into the menu.
  6. A price nobody can compete with ... (= FREE) and the fastest support I have ever seen (=mailing list).

Bo Peng suggested the further points:

  1. easy copy/paste and muti-window from SWP.
  2. the undo feature of SWP sucks.

3.1  Comments about SWP6

I am a fairly satisfied user of SWP3. I believe that it was quite advanced for its time. My copy is dated 1998, 13 years ago, and it runs well on XP (I believe it also runs on Windows Vista and 7). All the complaints mentioned above about SWP apply to this thru all versions of 5. However, SWP6 is due to come out very soon and, as far as I can tell, ALL the problems mentioned and more are addressed. It will run natively on Windows, Mac, and Linux, and it will incorporate Windows native commands. I believe that SWP6 will be very good. This is NOT AN AD or promotion. Unfortunately, I won't be able to afford to upgrade to SWP6. I wish that the authors of LyX would include the features of SWP lacking in LyX.

I noticed some comments above about the putative ease of equation editing in MathType or Word Equation editor. Compared to SWP, these are so awkward as to be completely impractical most of my work. If LyX is more difficult than MathType or Word Equation editor, I'll definitely be waiting a while for LyX to catch up.

One additional comment: SWP is very good about having simple keystroke shortcuts for most commands and math symbols. It also allows users to create fragments and automatic substitution for additional symbols. For example, I can type iab [space] in math mode to get an integral sign with lower limit a and upper limit b. I also have made 3-letter fragments for the most common math and logic symbols. Consequently, my need for the mouse in SWP is very limited.

4.  Features both need

  1. File comparison: how can I have two LaTeX files and see the changes? This is a key feature for working with other scientists!
Re: LyX already has as of 2.0
  1. Red underlining of misspelled words.
Re: LyX already has as of 2.0
  1. Collaboration
Re: LyX has integration with RCS/CVS/SVN, change tracking, export releated material to single .zip file.


Category: LyX vs other software Both programs need better spell checks and powerfull Grammar Editor and a stule checker

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Page last modified on 2011-07-02 23:59 UTC