TCFFHRC Rules Document: LyX / LaTeX Settings

I’m editing the Trinity College Home Firefighting Robot Contest rules document using the LyX GUI front end to LaTeX to handle the formatting.

Yes, yes, I know OpenOffice and its ilk have all the features you think you need. When you actually try to put together a book-length document, you find that the features don’t actually work / work together / behave reliably. Been there, done that. Enough times to be wary, indeed.

So LyX / LaTeX is the least-worst alternative and actually does a pretty good job after you get the various configurations beaten into shape. After that, you just type, add tags, and it’s all good.

Here’s a list of the settings I’m using… for future reference, natch, because figuring this stuff out from first principles takes a while.

Document settings

Document Class: report
Text Layout: MedSkip vertical, Single line, Two-column
Page Layout: US Letter, fancy headings
Page Margins: 0.75 inch all around, 0.3 inch separations</pre>
<strong>LaTeX Preamble</strong>
\lhead{\fancyplain{}{Trinity College Home Robot Contests}}
\rhead{\fancyplain{}{2010 Rules}}
\lfoot{\fancyplain{Modified \today}{Modified \today}}
\cfoot{Copyright 2009 by Trinity College}
\rfoot{\fancyplain{\thepage\ of \pageref{LastPage}}{\thepage\ of \pageref{LastPage}}}
\dvipost{cbstart color push Blue}
\dvipost{cbend color pop}



Some of those packages aren’t part of the default LyX / LaTeX installation on Ubuntu. Searching for LaTeX in Synaptic is tedious, but works.

The three ways to export to PDF are not identical.

  • dvipdfm doesn’t produce clickable TOC links.
  • pdflatex, the default, doesn’t produce change bars, which is a crippling defect for a rules document under heavy revision. It’s OK for the final draft, though.
  • ps2pdf doesn’t produce searchable text; it’s all graphics. Ptooie!

So use dvipdfm during development (to get change bars) and use pdflatex for the final product (to get clickable links). There has got to be a way around that, but I haven’t a clue as to what’s going on under the hood.

In order to track changes:

Document -> Change Tracking -> Track Changes.

In order to print change bars and suchlike:

Document -> Change Tracking -> Show Changes in Output

Figures appear on-screen in dot-for-dot mode by default, so tweak the on-screen ratio to maybe 50%. Force the printed width of all figures to 3 inches for two-column layout. Insist that picture resolution bear some resemblance to reality: 3 inches at 300 dpi -> 1000 pixels across.

There seems to be no way to export LyX directly to ODT. Exporting to RTF strips off most of the formatting, as you’d expect, and change tracking Goes Away.

Exporting to HTML produces one honkin’ big lump of HTML with a bazillion image files in a separate directory. That’s probably OK for most purposes.

Memo to Self: Turn off change tracking for minor editorial tweakage, because nobody really cares.