Originally posted 2016-02-09
There are a number of tools out there which allow you to compose documents. Three of my favorites are TeX, Emacs org-mode, and OpenOffice. Each of these tools is open-source and allows the user to script and modify their experiences.
Below are some factors which I think are helpful to consider when choosing between these document-preparation tools.
Use TeX when:
- You want output with very high quality appearance.
- You want to take advantage of TeX's powerful layout algorithms and routines.
- You want to typeset a bunch of mathematics.
- You want the document to be version-controlled using Git or similar SCM system.
Use Emacs org-mode when:
- Content is king, and you don't at this stage want custom layout.
- You don't need access to the underlying layout engine.
- You want to enter content, including mathematics, in a distraction-free and straightforward way.
- You want easy export to LaTeX, PDF, and HTML.
- You want the document to be version-controlled within Git or similar SCM system.
Use OpenOffice/LibreOffice when:
- Ease of composition is more important than highly polished end-product.
- You are content with fairly standard and simple layout conventions – and don't require pixel-perfect control or algorithmic layout optimization.
- Mathematical typesetting is not that important to the document.
- You need to edit the document in conjunction with other users who are not technical and do not know TeX.
- You want integration with OpenOffice Calc (spreadsheet).
- The document does not need to be in version control.