Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image


Does anybody have any experience with Glom? It’s an open-source GUI database builder created in the spirit of FileMaker. Someone suggested it in the comments of my entry for April 9, 2013. I’ve just downloaded it and have not yet installed it, but the (slightly sparse) product wiki makes it look pretty compelling, at least for the sorts of smallish databases that don’t have to support tens of thousands of records. It’s specific to the PostgreSQL database back end, about which I know less than I should. Working on that.

While I’m asking for user experiences, how about LyX? It’s been around forever but I don’t see much in the line of books on it. A 2007-era tutorial PDF for version 1.4.1 is available here without charge. I was using TeX by hand (and later LaTeX) in the late 80s and early 90s, and it was impressive on the 386/486 machines in broad use at the time. LyX is supposedly a WYSIWYG word processor based on LaTeX. The TeX universe generally is a science/math geek paradise. LaTeX will typeset equations like nothing else in the galaxy. My primary wonder here is whether LyX is now good enough to use for nonscientific word processing, or if the increasingly silly WYSIWYG vs WYSIWYM argument gets in the way. Our CPUs are more than gutsy enough these days to render TeX content in realtime, and my view is that WYS should always reflect WYM. (I understand the conflict, which is really about markup vs rendering; please don’t lecture me about it.)

The crescent moon and Jupiter are in conjunction tonight, and they will make a good pair in the west just after sunset.

That is, if winter ever decides to end in Colorado Springs. We’re apparently due for snow and perhaps even a blizzard midweek, with temps down to 12 above. Poor Carol is itching to get out and work in her garden, which is still cowering an inch below the surface and keeps yelling about ice giants. The water is welcome, obviously, but I don’t need it on (or as) ice.

We did get a little rain last night, which kept me from seeing if Colorado was getting any aurora activity in the literal wake of a CME that hit Earth yesterday at 2300 zulu. The forecasts focused on the East Coast as far south as DC, which doesn’t get a lot of aurora activity. The sunspot number is also approaching 150, a number I haven’t seen in quite a while. We may get a solar maximum after all…but don’t lay money on it.

Finally, I had an interesting (in the Chinese curse sense) education yesterday in printing your own business cards. I’ve had a card design in the tinkering stages for literally years. The intent was always to get it printed professionally, and heck, the owner of one of the biggest print shops in Pueblo lives next door. Next weekend I’ll be at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference and will need some. So I bought a pack of Avery 5871 laser-perf cards and tried to print the design on them. Whoops–the right third of the card is a green bleed. If you’re doing business cards from a laser printer onto laser-perf stock, do not use bleeds. Arranging the art so that the left edge of the cards in the right column didn’t show a green streak took a great deal of kafeutherin’, as Aunt Kathleen would have said. Even after much wasted stock and torn virtual hair, I still had to trim a little bit of green edge off half the cards with a scissors. Lesson: White all the way around…or let the pros do it.


  1. Jim Tubman says:

    I haven’t looked at LyX in ages, myself. I do my TeX work on Mac OS, using TeXShop; the Windows/Unix equivalent is TeXWorks. You see what you get, but it’s not exactly WYSIWYG; there is a window with the markup in it, and beside it is a window with rendered PDF. When you want to update it, you type ⌘-T and it is typeset very, very quickly.

    TeX has kept up with a lot of developments. Output is now PDF, and supports hyperlinks and URLs. The XƎTeX version of it handles Unicode input and OpenType fonts and a dazzling variety of scripts (it was developed for Bible translation).

    Word processors are sort of like cell phones and TeX is sort of like ham radio: You have to be prepared to learn some stuff up front, and it is not as convenient, but the output can be gorgeous, especially if you appreciate things like ligatures and good kerning and civilised line-breaking.

  2. William Meyer says:

    I recently discovered LyX, and as I have a fairly large TeX document I work on from time to time, decided to give it a try. Disclaimer: My test document is large, currently producing a PDF of 600+ pages, and it uses the paragraphs module to allow me to synchronize paragraphs in three columns, so definitely out of the ordinary.

    LyX choked.

    One problem is that it is apparently incapable of approximating the layout I created. Another problem is that it apparently bogs down badly with large files.

    LyX may be perfectly fine for people whose use of TeX would be called casual. But that may be oxymoronic; is it possible to be casual with TeX?

  3. Bob Halloran says:

    Noticed over the weekend that LyX has been accepted for this year`s Google Summer of Code (; may be an indicator of helpful improvements to come.

  4. I do a lot of my “little” docs with LyX, and have for years. Back in the days when I still used Macs, it was the most important Mac app I used. (nowadays it also runs on Windows)

    I like it mostly because it distracts the less from writing (minimal formatting necessary for a good result), second because you can write inline latex if you get stuck somewhere. Third because the plain text format works reasonably fine with revision systems. (svn diff etc).

    Originally, the possibility to simply export to Latex when I got stuck with LyX was important too, but it never was needed, so I worry

    For my work (I’m a programmer, so I have to write manuals occasionally) I use plain latex though, it is easier if the number of conditionals/macros become larger. (TeXworks to edit, but mostly because of the highlighting. I don’t use any of the other functionality)

    William Meyer: I don’t see why you can’t do casual TeX. If you use it for the major projects, and have done the investment, why not use it for the minor stuff too. That’s how I got to LyX.

    1. William Meyer says:

      I suppose if you are speaking of simple documents, then yes, casual use of TeX is possible. But if you make more than superficial use of the more exotic packages available for it, then I think that casual use is no more than a memory.

  5. Craig Anderson says:

    I’m about to try Glom and found this site searching for “glom”. I’m already running Postgresql to support my work so I think it’s worth a try.

    I have used LyX for documenting software development projects, but currently I use a self contained HTML/JavaScript slide show package called reveal.js

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