LyX Development News

"The best laid plans of mice and men..."

Well what can I say? Sorry? I didn't intend to leave it so long between issues but I've been overrun by my paid work and am just barely recovering now after almost two months of working 60-80 hour weeks getting the student machines in the department at uni up and running Win2k (boo! hiss!). It's not that bad actually. Microsoft finally seem to have a product that doesn't crash twice a day. I just wish they'd get someone with a bit of logic to rearrange their configuration and management dialogs into something that makes sense. I'm almost tempted to use it but that'd mean breaking a five year long run of not using Microsoft products. I stand by my commitment from years ago that I won't use Microsoft Windows until they put a "Stop" button on the toolbar.

Anyway, apart from working late nights and early mornings for the students and gradually evolving into a Morlock in the process (read H. G. Wells's The Time Machine) I did manage to attend the in Sydney in January. There's a report of my LyX advocacy attempts below. After the conference I managed to spend another great week in Melbourne visiting a few people I knew from the conference as well as a few terrific shows and some other terrific friends.

You'll have to wait for the next issue for the continuation of the GUI Independence saga. I promise on my honour that you won't have to wait as long for the next issue as you did for this one. Honest!

As an extra treat in this issue you get lots of quotes from the developers list. Okay, I'll admit it: I'm slapping this together at the last minute because the last minute is all I have before the end of the month and quotes are easy to find. LDN should be back to normal next month. I hope. If not I'll be in trouble and not just with you. My thesis supervisor is moving to another city in July and I need to hurry up and finish my thesis.

Oh, and before I forget, LDN is now officially one year old. It's birthday slipped quietly by last month on the 17th of February. The first real issue was published on the first of March last year so that milestone also slipped by quietly.

José Matos's collection of user mailing list tips have arrived but need a little editing so they will be included in a couple of hours once that's done. Standby for an update. Update: they're in April's issue instead.

Quote of the Month

Dear sirs

Doped by litres of cofee, and after three weeks working like a horse, I finally submited my master thesys today. Without LyX, this probably could not happen, or perhaps I were submited to the humiliation of using a software that treats me as an idiot: MS-Word.

There are no words to explain my gratitude to each one of the developers of this wonderful tool that LyX is, and that I heve been using with pleasure almost daily for the last three years.


Now going to bed.

Carlos A. M. dos Santos

Runner Up

Primarily the same parser code for all the lyx files, the possibillity of haveing a dtd for layout files, language files, bind files, keyboard files.

Lars Gullik Bjønnes

I have to admit that I still do not see what the wonderful advantages of xml are... What will we do with a DTD? Print it out and frame it on the wall?

Jean-Marc Lasgouttes

Cool Typo Award

I tried the "benchmark" a bit here, and the times in successive rune fluctuate enough that I do not see how you can interpret them...

Jean-Marc Lasgouttes

This wins the "Cool Typo" award. When reading your (the developers') discussions of compilers, pragmas, etc. my head spins enough that you may as well be benchmarking in "successive runes", because I am certain that you are practicing spells and engaged in the black arts. Maybe it's time to support Peter Wilson's excellent archaic fonts, e.g. ctan:/tex-archive/fonts/archaic/runic. :-)

Mike Ressler

The benchmark referred to is:
time lyx -x lyx-quit UserGuide.lyx

Asbestos Suit Award

Why do we have this ? It seems a bit ad hoc. Is it just for the convenience of the doc writers or something?

John Levon

Put on your asbestos suit! John Weiss is going to hunt you down and smack you with his small fish :-) (Find a message from him and look at his signature.)

We had a big row about this a couple of years ago when we discussed the proper format for the "arrow" to be used in the documentation for things like File->Open. I don't remember exactly how we settled on that particular rotated triangle, but it was deemed Holy and Pure, and thus became policy. While it is certainly crucial for the LyX documentors (who number approximately 0.1 right now), any software documentation should take advantage of it.

Mike Ressler

Oh, come now. I was the one who originally had \typewriter{->} all over the place, until I was told that it "didn't look good." Hence the origins of the MenuSeparator and the "\lyxarrow" macro.

File this one under: you can't please all of the people all of the time.


"Not through coercion. Not by force. But by compassion. By affection. And, a small fish." -His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama

John Weiss

How many people use LyX?

Obviously we just need to make LyX automatically send email to whenever someone opens up LyX for the first time (the same way we decide to show the splash page). While we're at it, we could have LyX look through the person's address book and email all their friends with an advertisement to use the program!

Amir Karger

Growing old and forgetful

No this was only needed in the beginning because Lars had some thoughts it wouldn't work out right ;)

Jürgen Vigna

I can't remember having thoughts like that...

Lars Gullik Bjønnes

Well it was quite some time ago and you're not getting any younger!


P.S.: I have a feeling in my fingers which wanted to put a smily on the end of the above line but I can't today!


but you did in the mail before.


Well you know you're not the only one getting white hairs!


Death threats?

I owe you one Berliner Weisse mit Schuss or something similar.

Niels Muller Larsen

Uuh... there is no need to poison Herbert just because he was being helpful

André Pönitz

To namespace or not to namespace, that is the question.

Having namespaces can be really nice... it took me a while to arrive at this conclusion but I am a convinced "namespacer" by now...
PS: Anybody betting how Lars would vote? ;-)

André Pönitz

I guess the two questions are related. Let's see how Lars' ukase on the question looks like.

Jean-Marc Lasgouttes


Lars Gullik Bjønnes

I'd vote for 'ukases' in English and 'ukasi' in Russian. In German 'Ukase' is certainly an acceptable abbreviation for 'edicts of the Czar' ;-)


In french it would be Oukase...


Update: LyX-1.1.6

It would seem that a lot of people didn't heed the advice given in the last issue about upgrading or testing the then new LyX-1.1.6 release. Let me try the key point again only a little louder this time:

The LyX file format has changed.

One other key thing to remember is that:

The support for tables has been completely rewritten.

So as a result of these changes to table support there are a few features in 1.1.5 that aren't in 1.1.6. There are a few things that don't appear to work in 1.1.6 because there were a couple of redrawing problems with tables which have been fixed in the current tree. Most of the fixes will appear in the 1.1.6fix2 release which should be out soon. As a result of considerable, constructive feedback from several people and Michael Schmitt in particular the current cvs tree's table support is almost back to the same feature level as 1.1.5. The table rewrite is all the hard work of the tireless Jürgen Vigna.

LyX Team: New Developers

Over the last two months we've seen a couple of new people join the ever-growing ranks of the LyX Team and we've also seen the return of a couple of old hands. Welcome to:

Update: GUII

That GUII "debate" back in December got Angus Leeming thinking about how we could split the View and Controller components of the dialogs. This was one of the big stumbling blocks according to Asger's arguements. Well, after a couple of weeks getting his idea right in a branch of the CVS repository his view/controller split is now in the main trunk and in the last couple of days he's managed to convert nearly all the existing GUII XForms dialogs to this new scheme. This has broken the other ports for short periods while the other porters have caught up with the changes but everyone agrees that the new scheme will speed up porting the dialogs to other toolkits. Great work Angus!

Not that progress has been slow at any time during the last 6 months or so. GUII just keeps accelerating. Take a look at the GUII status page to see how far your favourite toolkit has progressed. You might notice that the Gnome port has slowed to a crawl because Marko Vendelin has been snowed under with non-LyX work. The Qt2 and KDE1 ports now have three regular contributors in the form of John Levon, Edwin Leuven and Kalle Dalheimer. The first two of which have also helped out with the XForms port.

LyX Advocacy:

I only managed to get one lonely tick on the BOF board for my suggested "LyX, GUII or development horror stories" BOF. This was bit disappointing however I resolved to make the most of whatever opportunities arose to make some noise about LyX.

The first great opportunity came during John "Mad Dog" Hall's keynote address during the conference dinner. Mad Dog was talking about Mom and Pop computer users -- technophobes or at least technology illiterate -- and the need for really, really simple installation procedures for software and simple interfaces for software. He then went on to discuss areas that free software is particularly weak in. One area he mentioned was support for Hebrew and Arabic and how no editors, word processors or even desktop like Gnome supported these languages. Mad Dog wasn't very impressed when I yelled out that LyX supported Hebrew and Arabic.

The following day, the last day of the conference, saw everybody piled into the largest lecture theatre with all the kernel hackers and other seminar presenters gathered down the front for an open discussion period. I finally got to ask what was supposed to be the last question of the day. Heh heh. Anyway, I asked my question: Do you have any development horror stories you can share with us so we might learn from your mistakes and hopefully avoid similar situations ourselves.

Then I spent a couple of minutes explaining how the LyX Team decided to abandon the old development branch and switch to a different development process: the stable advancement process we've been adopting over the last 18 months. Anyway, by the time I finished rambling everyone had forgotten that I'd asked a question. Raster suggested that I just wanted to know why the 2.4 Linux Kernel took so long. This caused some feathers to be ruffled. Mad Dog again seemed offended. This time that I might have called the stability of the Linux kernel into question. Dave Miller was pissed off -- but John Levon reassures me that this is easy to achieve and that DaveM always seems to be pissed off about something. At least Alan Cox understood what I was on about (must be something about the name). He's now joined my short list of favourite kernel developers that I've met.

So LyX got plenty of mention for about 15 minutes. DaveM was worried that by focusing on maintaining the stability of the LyX sources and not having separate development and stable source trees we'd be cramping the developers. However, this has obviously not been the case in our experience. There's been a combination of a shift in developers attitudes to spend a little more time thinking and then implementing the code right the first time along with the fact that the source has been stable enough that developers have been able to implement lots of little features or improvements that have accelerated LyX's development to a pace that I've found difficult to keep up with. The stable sources and general excitement of the developer community has proved contagious and we keep seeing our numbers growing to the point that we've easily doubled the number of core developers in the last 12 months.

After that 15 minutes of fame and a couple of other questions the conference closed and everyone started to move outside. There were several enquiries as a result of my ranting so you see sometimes you have to be a pain in the neck to get your message across.

Review: LyX in the French News

Jean-Marc Lasgouttes

Babelfish gives a reasonable translation of afterword, although it stops working at the end for unknown reasons.
So, here is a short summary (a bit weak, but...):

I sent a message to Stephane (who is very active in the french linux community) pointing out that LyX also does docbook and linuxdoc and that the new infrastructure we are working on should allow better structuring of documents.

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