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Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Although typesetting mathematics has somewhat of a learning curve you will get used to it and after a while it will become your only option for writing mathematics. If you aren't using LaTeX yet, there will come a day when it is hard to understand you could do ever without it. Like the Internet, for example.

Typesetting mathematics is one thing. Typesetting pictures, or drawings is an entirely different ballgame. Where LaTeX is built upon Don Knuth's original TeX, the community created tons of add-on packages for LaTeX. For the typesetting of graphics there are two major options: PSTricks and TikZ/PGF. Although the possibilities of creating professional graphics in your documents seems limitless, creating them by hand, i.e. through code, is hard. Again, the community came with a solution by creating IDEs for these packages.

( As I blogged before ) M381 TMA01 requires the inclusion of a flowchart. What is simpler to draw than a flowchart? Well, it is the lines, arrows, text insertions, fonts and all that which makes it a challenge. I decided to install the IDE for PSTricks called LaTeXDraw and I must say that the first results are hopeful. LaTeXDraw is a graphical drawing editor for LaTeX and can be used to generate PSTricks code. LaTeXDraw is developed in Java and thus runs on top of Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. The LaTeXDraw GUI consists of two panels, a left panel drawbord and a right panel code editor. The panels remain in-sync while either graphically modifying the drawing or via code. Using the mouse you can drag and drop template figures and draw them, basically like as in any drawing tool. The PSTricks commands for LaTeX are instantly generated in the code-editor. When you are done a simple copy and paste into your document completes the process.

It looks as though LaTeXDraw becomes part of my basic software toolkit. I'll keep you posted.


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(Raumpatrouille – Die phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffes Orion, colloquially aka Raumpatrouille Orion was the first German science fiction television series. Its seven episodes were broadcast by ARD beginning September 17, 1966. The series has since acquired cult status in Germany. Broadcast six years before Star Trek first aired in West Germany (in 1972), it became a huge success.)