Issue 2864 - TeX style formula input whould be welcomed
TeX style formula input whould be welcomed
Product: Math
Classification: Application
Component: ui
PC Linux
: P3 trivial with 33 votes (vote)
: ---
Assigned To: AOO issues mailing list
: 54197 72374 106054 (view as issue list)
Depends on:
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Reported: 2002-01-17 01:46 UTC by Unknown
Modified: 2013-02-07 22:33 UTC (History)
3 users (show)

See Also:
Issue Type: FEATURE
Latest Confirmation on: ---
Developer Difficulty: ---


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Description Unknown 2002-01-17 01:46:51 UTC
I found out, that in most cases OO formula input style is similar to TeX style,
except that '%' is used instead of '\'. So, why not introduce a 'TeX' input
style for math formulas as an option -- that would be welcomed by most of
science people familiar with TeX.
Comment 1 stefan.baltzer 2002-01-17 11:57:12 UTC
Reassigned to Christian.
Comment 2 rheavy 2002-03-05 22:43:54 UTC
I was thinking the same thing myself. In fact I often type in the TeX 
equivalent without going through the menus.
Comment 3 christian.jansen 2003-02-10 11:17:01 UTC
Reassigened to Bettina.
Comment 4 ianjermyn 2003-09-02 11:17:36 UTC
This is a very important point for me. I am a newcomer to OO and 
would very much like to use it extensively. The ability to enter and 
to copy-and-paste formulae direct from Latex into text documents and 
especially presentations is the issue that decides whether I will use 
OO seriously or not. Why not simply make TeX the formula language?

Note that this is already possible in PowerPoint via an add-on called 
TexPoint. This works fine, but it creates bitmaps, which eventually, 
especially in colour, make the file very heavy. A more sophisticated 
approach to the same idea in OO would thus be very very welcome. 

The above is relevant to both inline and displayyed formulae. 
Comment 5 nom 2003-09-11 03:56:05 UTC
Yes, this would be very good.
Comment 6 frank7 2004-01-13 23:03:20 UTC
Yes, as LaTex as an input language is quite common, good idea. Just as a
back-end and storage format, MathML is superior. LaTex is heavily
layout-oriented and difficult to interpret by mathematical machines like Maple
or Mathematica. As a macro-language it does not follow strict rules and leaves
much freedom to the Latex-programmer/writer. It seems that everybody has his
personal style of LaTex, difficult if a machine tries to "understand" the
formula (Maple parses formulas like a compiler and then evaluates, simplifies,
differentiates, integrates...).
MathML has both a layout-oriented and a semantical representation. Especially
the pure semantical representation is ideal for machine processing, archiving,
converting and importing to Math software, because it does not care for such
non-mathematical stuff like spaces and format instructions. And over all, MathML
is XML-based, best suited for document data structures. It can be displayed in
vector form by WWW browsers like Mozilla (no ugly formula GIF's any more). A big
plus against Microsoft.

I know that LaTex formulas look much better than from any other typesetter. I
hope that in long-term the MathML renderers become just as good. In theory
there's no reason why MathML formulas should look worse. Until then, maybe an
embedded LaTex formula rendering engine would not be bad, keeping the MathML
base format and just make intermediate LaTex conversions. Ok, could be a bigger
programming effort.

The export filter writer2latex already includes the functionality to convert OO
MathML formulas to LaTex:

I tried this filter and it works, hope that the OO team will integrate the
filter into the next OO distribution. The effort is minimal (adding
writer2latex.jar, upgrading xmerge.jar and adding some XML-lines in the filter

BTW, OpenOffice is great! LaTex will make it even better. Bye,bye, Microsoft...
Comment 7 ianjermyn 2004-01-14 08:23:24 UTC
While I think frank7 has a point technically, I am afraid that his approach 
potentially ignores the needs of the existing market for equation typesetting 
in favour of a technically ideal solution. I thus want to stress further what I 
said before, and expand a little. The crucial issue is compatibility with other 
standards in use in the target market. OO does not need to be able to do 
everything in a perfect way: it needs to be out there and to be useful. 

The ability to typeset complicated equations matters to a small minority of the 
market for OO. There are two types of documents to be considered: papers and 

The majority of this minority uses Latex to create papers, because they are 
used to it, because it is the industry standard, because it looks good, and 
because they can easily generate Postscript or PDF. A minority of the minority 
use Word. I would guess that there is small hope of completely converting the 
Latex users to OO, but they might be persuaded to use OO instead of Office in 
those moments when they are currently forced to use Office, if it included 
Latex compatibility and better-looking equations, along with the existing 
ability to generate PDF. The Word users could certainly be persuaded to switch 
if Latex level equation editing was possible in OO along with PDF output. 

For presentations, almost everyone uses Powerpoint, and those that do not use 
Latex to generate PDF. In this case, Latex compatibility is critical. If it 
were possible to paste Latex equations from papers into presentations and vice-
versa, using presentation software that has the ease of use of PowerPoint, 
everyone would switch over to OO. (Evidence is provided by the popularity of 
TexPoint, a relatively primitive way of including Latex in PowerPoint 

Thus if there is to be any hope of capturing this (admittedly small) market, 
equation input to OO must include the ability to copy and paste Latex code, to 
input it directly, and probably to output it in some way as well. In addition, 
the equations must look as good as Latex, however they are rendered. How this 
is done is completely irrelevant.

I think that the ability to calculate with the equations in a document is 
largely irrelevant, or at best a secondary issue for the current market. 
Writing up results is usually separated from obtaining them. If equations can 
be transferred to Maple, great, but this had better not affect how they look, 
or the compatibility with my existing documents and other industry standards.
Comment 8 rblackeagle 2004-01-16 00:15:27 UTC
This is similar to the ability to insert spreadsheet features into a Writer
document as you can in MS Word.  It is a useful feature.
Comment 9 frank7 2004-01-25 18:43:37 UTC
I guess we are mixing a bit the different approaches, there is

1. allowing an input style with Latex syntax
2. import/export filters for Latex
3. integrating Latex into OO for formulas/text rendering

Are you really aware of the difficulties of the 3rd point ? That would cause
huge architectural changes in the whole office packet. I'm not a programmer, but
I guess you could better start a new Office from scratch if you want this. Think
of the big Latex distributions like TeTex or MikTex. I can't imagine how this
could easily fit into the OO structure. OO is XML-based and formulas are
XML-StarMath/MathML, in my opinion that was a wise decision. XML will be the
unique and universal document structure in future. Even Microsoft makes some
trials with XML in Office 2003.

The 1st point I see less critical. Changing the StarMath names to the well-known
Latex-style names (as an alternative) would not be so difficult. Some extra
formula features also nice. It does not have to be the full Latex macro
programming language. It would also allow you to copy-paste equations. Is it
this point that was initially requested ?

At least for me most important are the import/export filter capabilities. The
export filter already exists. I'm just waiting for the OO team to include it
into the distribution. Until then I live with the small patch. The import filter
 I didn't manage to install into my OO/Windows/Cygwin/TeTex-environment. That
has to be simplified and better integrated.

If you like LaTex as the final typesetter engine, you can still compile the
exported Latex code. One extra argument of the export filter could be a specific
 Latex paper style (*.sty), don't know how this would conflict with the OO
"writer.sty" of the export.
Comment 10 frank7 2004-01-25 19:08:19 UTC
by the way, slightly off-topic,
for MS-Word there is a commercial solution:

We purchased it here, results are not bad.
Of course, don't expect a 1:1 layout, but formulas
and drawings are converted (MS vectorgraphic -> EPS).

Some colleagues like their "MathType". MS Word includes a
light-version of this software. 
The full version also knows Latex (just formula, not the
whole document).

Comment 11 rgm 2004-03-17 12:51:18 UTC
We only need to be able to edit formulas in Tex style and have them rendered on
screen, print, or image(as for html).  Entry in the bottom window with Tex, and
saving the formula code in the xml file as <math:annotation
math:encoding="TeX">, including the TeX version if needed.  Then the editor,
renderer, or converter could act according to the encoding.  At least provide a
way to plug-in a commercial version that would do that: OO should recognize the
encoding, find the plug-in, and use it for the edit window and rendering.  There
is no need to save the MathML version of the formula in the sxm files.  All we
need is to save the formula in an xml file within the xsm, the way we do now,
labeling the encoding type.  The plug-in could provide a way to export MathML
when desired. Perhaps StarOffice could include a plug-in.
Comment 12 ianjermyn 2004-06-05 17:31:59 UTC
As I have said in a previous comment, I think the best solution to the problem 
is to have a version of TexPoint for OO. TexPoint can be found at It has recently improved.

TexPoint does two things: 

1) in inline mode, it acts as a fast way to 'insert symbols' by typing a subset 
of Latex inline (e.g. \alpha is converted to the alpha letter in whatever font 
is being used);

2) in display mode, a little editor pops up and you can type anything you like 
in Latex. At the push of a button, your standard Latex installation is then 
used to convert it to ps, and this is then converted to an image format of your 
choice, most recently and most usefully a Windows metafile that uses outlines, 
and so is very lightweight.

This is the decisive issue for me, and I suspect many others who would switch 
to OO. Doesn't this sound like a simple and quick solution? Pretty please? 


Comment 13 thomas.lange 2006-09-25 11:25:59 UTC
Comment 14 owqcd 2007-10-26 22:31:22 UTC
My opinion :

- I would like the possibility to enter mathematical formulas with the latex
syntax (after, the formula can be rendered by OO (it's not a problem for me if
it doesn't look like what latex would have produced))

- I would really like a way to write "inline" mathematical formulas. The latex
way , with $...$, would be very convenient.
Comment 15 troodon 2008-01-20 14:55:09 UTC
From issue 72374, desc 4:

------- Additional comments from cloph Wed Dec 13 12:05:36 +0000 2006 -------

see for an intermediate solution
Comment 16 Martin Hollmichel 2008-02-06 11:28:51 UTC
*** Issue 72374 has been marked as a duplicate of this issue. ***
Comment 17 dudul 2009-10-13 08:29:31 UTC
Inline formula would be a very useful feature, notably when changing style. In
my opinion, this issue should be link to issue 5092 about formula style.
A suggestion : when choosing 'text mode' for a formula, its style could be
linked to the paragraph's one ?
Comment 18 michael.ruess 2009-10-19 22:07:24 UTC
*** Issue 54197 has been marked as a duplicate of this issue. ***
Comment 19 michael.ruess 2009-10-19 22:17:22 UTC
*** Issue 106054 has been marked as a duplicate of this issue. ***