LyX Development News

Hello! You may have noticed a distinct lack of LDN over the last year. Alas, the usual editor (Allan Rae) has been far too busy with real-life stuff to keep you up-to-date. But we felt it's only fair we satiate the need, so here is this (briefer than usual) update to tell you what's going on with LyX, and what the developers have been doing in the past year.

LyX 1.2 series

Jean-Marc Lasgouttes is on the brink of releasing LyX 1.2.2, the second bug-fix release of the 1.2 series. This will have a large number of fixes for some of the more annoying 1.2 bugs that we've heard about. In particular, a number of problems with "undo" should be fixed now, and a couple of problematic bugs accidentally introduced with the 1.2.1 release are also fixed. The jump from the 1.1.6 releases to 1.2 was a large one, with many important improvements; unfortunately, there were also a few bugs and bad behaviour in the 1.2.0 release. Many of the worst problems will be fixed with the 1.2.2 release, so users having problems with earlier versions should try it out.

LyX 1.3 CVS

The development version of LyX is now in "feature-freeze", as dictated by Lars Gullik Bjønnes. Things are rapidly stabilising, and we hope to release 1.3.0 soon. You can find the remaining bugs we plan to fix before release by looking on for bugs that have a Target Milestone of 1.3.

There's a variety of new features in current CVS, and a whole swathe of bugfixes. The long-term GUI independence project has finally reached its first real milestone, with the Qt LyX frontend essentially complete! There are all sorts of advances here, especially in terms of usability, and, of course, eye candy. If your Qt library is set up for anti-aliased fonts, you will get them in LyX too. Interested people are encouraged to try it out and report back with any problems. Note that the Qt frontend does not fully support non-latin1 text encodings, so users who need that may have to use the XForms frontend instead still.

preview-latex is an emacs package for LaTeX that allows "instant previews" of LaTeX code, so you can immediately see the visual rendering of the LaTeX in the document. With the help of David Kastrup, the author, current CVS LyX can harness this functionality to allow instant previews in the LyX window of math equations and figures. This feature can be immensely useful for making sure the rendering of your equation will look right in the final output. The preview is only displayed (when enabled) when you're not editing the actual equation, so it's unobtrusive too.

Those of you editing multiple-language documents have no doubt been irritated by the fact that the spell-checker can only check one document language at a time. Current CVS fixes this, automatically spell checking using the right language (assuming you have marked the text as being in a different language, of course). To enable this feature, you need to have the latest ASpell package installed (see here), and configure LyX using --with-pspell.

The Future

What are the developers planning for LyX in the future? Well, as always, it's hard to say what's coming up. One feature that won't make it in 1.3.0 but is essentially complete is "change tracking", a result of work sponsored by Credativ GmbH. Using a new DVI-based package, LyX will automatically track any changes you make to a document, marking deleted text in red with strikeout, and added text in blue. Every change also is marked in the margin with a blue changebar, in both LyX itself, and in the DVI/PostScript output. This is an extremely important feature for people working in collaborative environments, as somebody receiving one of these tracked documents can work through it using LyX's "Merge changes" feature, accepting or rejecting each change individually. If you've ever used Microsoft Word's revision tracking feature, it's very similar to that. You can find patches for this here.