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February 15, 2004

Cursing One’s Tools

I’m trying to write a talk in Keynote.

As I noted when the program first came out, it is ridiculously easy to do all sorts of whizbang animated effects. But the stuff that I actually care about, like mathematical equations, is an incredible annoyance.

TexShop has a nifty feature. You can select a rectangular region from the PDF preview, and copy and paste it into Keynote. The resulting PDF object in the Keynote Presentation can be dragged around and resized. But you can’t, say, reflow the text in it.

It’s not too hard to keep a TeX file, containing the equations, in parallel with the Keynote Presentation. It’s a little kludgy, but works OK for display equations. But it’s useless for inline equations. The only thing I’ve been able to do that works worth a damn is to import whole paragraphs containing inline equations as PDF objects. That’s very kludgy:

  • You can’t reflow the text, so you have to typeset the TeX paragraph at the width you need.
  • The fonts don’t match the surrounding text. (The Computer Modern fonts aren’t ATSUI-compatible, so I’m using Baskerville for the Keynote Presentation. If I only use Computer Modern for display equations, they’re close enough that it looks OK, but a paragraph of inline text sticks out like a sore thumb.)
  • Not being able to edit much the text of the talk in-place gets very frustrating.

Surely, on a system whose native display format is PDF, and where there already exist Text Services to convert snippets of TeX code into PDF, one could do better.

How about an equation object? Double-click on it, and you open up a text palette, where you can edit the underlying TeX code. Close the palette, and the equation gets rendered into PDF — in-place, at the right point-size, with the surrounding text reflowed as-necessary.

Would that be too much to ask?

I’d even be willing to forgo the spinning pie-charts.

Posted by distler at February 15, 2004 10:31 PM

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2 Comments & 1 Trackback

Re: Cursing One’s Tools

I use Create.app together with Services with good results since 10 years or so - in the past under Nextstep using Postscript, now under OSX using pdf (funnily the performance of this on a 1Ghz G4 is not better than on a 25Mhz Nextstation in the past - that much for ps versus pdf). At any rate, having tried many programs over the years I found Create is doing this job best for me.

As for provding TeX paste-in services, EquationService does the job OK, as do home-made scripts, but back-editing eqs does still not work satisfyingly, although the author of ES went already quite far in providing this functionality. I had been looking into this some while ago, and problematical is how different the various programs store those little pdf snippets - it is easy to encode the TeX source as a comment in the pdf, but to get back from there so that one can edit the source, ideally application independently, is not too easy.

At some point, someone would need to go the final step and complete ES to a fully functional “killer” app.

Posted by: WL on February 20, 2004 11:57 AM | Permalink | Reply to this

Equation Services

Last I checked, Keynote would eat the PDF comments created by Equation Services, making the PDF blobs no longer editable in ES.

Even if that were fixed, it would not provide a solution for creating inline equations, which was my main complaint.

Posted by: Jacques Distler on February 20, 2004 12:47 PM | Permalink | Reply to this
Read the post S5
Weblog: Musings
Excerpt: All about S5 support in Instiki.
Tracked: March 1, 2007 5:21 PM

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