It all began with a request from a fellow teacher to teach him how to write a mathematical equation inside his paper. The effort of doing this using ‘normal’ word processor is equal to a session inside the dentist office – painful.
So I started the quest to find more suitable tool to east the pain and find Lyx – available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. The definiton on their web page said: “LyX is a document processor that encourages an approach to writing based on the structure of your documents (WYSIWYM – What You See Is What You Mean), and not simply their appearance (WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get).”
Feel The Lyx
Start by downloading the 18 Mb++ installer, then you may continue with the not-so-smooth installation process. Lyx require your computer to have LaTeX system before you can install Lyx, otherwise please use the option to download MiKTeX. Other interuptions are the step to choose the Language and the step to choose and download dictionaries. Please note that installation plus MiKTeX and English Dictionary download require about 375 Mb of your hard disk space.
On the first sight, there’s no love. Aside from standard tools, the interface was a bit cluttered by all of these icons of symbols of everything that made my high school’s mathematical days miserable. But those ‘clutteries’ are the ones that set this document processor apart from all the rest. Creating any science equation is a snap even for the person who has developed acute science allergy for years like yours truly.
I will not go above and beyond explaining how to do that since Lyx site has complete screencasts on the How-Tos. You just click the picture on each spesific topic to watch the tutorial. Extensive documentation is one of the advantages which people will find useful.
More Than Meets The Eye
But writing scientific equation easily is not the only advantage of Lyx. It’s fast with no memory hog, able to track changes and use branches for having more versions of the same document. As a bonus: yellow sticky notes.
Academic writers (as well as commercial writers – both fiction and non fiction) will also find Lyx valuable as it supports Structured document creation, including: advanced features for labels, references and bibliography (including BibTeX support), standard word processor operations; spellchecking (uses ispell in the background), also footnotes and margin notes.
What I find really useful for the writing purpose is the support for table of contents creation and outliner mode, in which you can move chapters and sections around in the “Table of Contents” dialog; and the availability of different textclasses which allow you to type different kinds of documents: letters, articles, books, movie scripts, LinuxDoc, and slides.
You can view the full list of Lyx features here.
I’ve only used Lyx for a short time, and it’s not the most good looking document processor out there, but the speed and functionality have already make it my main choice of writing tool. So, unless any of you readers can give me better alternatives (use the comments field below), I’d say “Make way for Lyx!”