November 27, 2012

LaTeX templates

Have you ever written a thesis document or an ACM-article using a WYSIWYG word processor?

If you are very experienced and use a single platform you might have done it several times, but when dealing with documents that have to consistent, self-corrected, dynamic and exported to different formats, word processors are a pain...

I'm not talking from a newbie-point-of-view, I've seen it, try it and realized that it is not worthy. Everything started when I became the Spanish translator for the Slackbasics book/guide, they had the following environment:

  • SGML-Docbook for contents
  • Chapters organized into separated files
  • Output formats are mainly HTML and PDF
  • The project is built in order to generate the output formats via Make.
At the beginning it was really hard for me to understand why they chose this way of working, but after some modifications and some collaboration with other editors it was clear that there's nothing better than plain text to write documentation, leave the styling, formatting and layouts aside, focus on the content.

I finished that translation and now is publicly available. But now I started writing my Masters thesis for the University and the nightmares of MS-Word problems I had two years ago came back to me.

Shall I use a WYSIWYG editor again for a thesis?.... nevermore...

So, long story short, I've found that LaTeX suites most of my needs and it's simple once you get the basics. In order to put it in the format my University (Universidad Autónoma Gabriel René Moreno) has, I created two base documents:
They are not both really 'templates', but example documents. It's handy when you want to start again and don't want to mess with the same problems over and over, and because of that I know I'm gonna use them over and over.