Thursday, March 10, 2005

New tools for writing

From time to time, I hear of people seeking easy ways to publish documents in PDF format. Sure, many still use Word and send their documents along as .doc files, but there's a perception of being complete that comes with PDF files, and PDF files look the same on all computers, unlike Word files.

For many, it's not easy to produce PDFs, though. They could buy Adobe Acrobat, but they can't justify the expense for the number of documents they'd convert in a year. They could do it in LaTeX, but that requires a bit of skill they don't have time to develop.

I recently discovered another approach that many may find easier. Parsewiki takes structured plain text and turns it into various formats: DocBook, HTML, or LaTeX. Then, if you have a DocBook toolchain installed, you can create PDF files quickly. That's doable on Windows, and it seemed trivial on Linux. It's not the tool you want for bigger documents, but it may work quite well for you for the one- or two-page memo or summary you'd like to produce.

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