Wednesday, 15 April 2009

People actually pay for this rubbish?

I was forced by the project manager to convert one of my documents into Microsoft Word format.

Wow, what an unpleasant journey this turned out to be. First the Lyx/LaTeX to ODF converter didn't work very well. Although I eventually got it to work on a GNUOS machine by removing some ps-tricks diagrams first. The text converted ok, but there were other problems. All the cross references were broken and needed to be fixed up, and the images needed re-inserting as they'd been re-sampled at a lower resolution.

Fighting with OpenOffice 'dot' org's nasty GUI features wasn't much fun. Such as the ones that have the screen bouncing around as you navigate through different document elements; often losing focus in the process -- navigating by keyboard was simply impossible. And finally, after getting the document to a decent state following one last change it simply refused to save in ODF format, so I was forced onto Microsoft Word.

So then came the less-than-perfect conversion to Microsoft Word format. It broke all of the references again. And inserted images, captions, and tables in a way which didn't work very well and needed to be re-done. Microsoft Word crashed twice just trying to re-arrange a table; and had the gall to make out that it was doing me a favour by (very) slowly ``recovering'' my work. Lots of issues with cross referencing (the cross referencing tool is worse than the OpenOffice 'dot' org one, and that's saying something), numbering, tables of contents, maths sections, styles, formatting, and even plain editing functions and the user interface. None of it worked well, and much of it barely worked at all.

Over-all, a few days of a head-ache inducing and hair-greying experience I hope not to repeat any time soon. At least OpenOffice 'dot' org has an excuse, it doesn't cost anything. Although the claimed interoperability is simply not there; but we all know who to blame for that. But someone paid for this Microsoft Word, and it is an utterly ghastly horrible product that only produces amateurish results when it does manage to do what you ask it to.

After having written the document originally using Lyx, and having recently worked with Texinfo as well, even their combined quirks and difficulties pale in comparision to these utterly unproductive, rubbish tools.

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