having my doubts

So after reading some documentation on LyX and LaTeX, I'm having my doubts. Basically the split between "user" and "designer" is bigger than I had expected. To do debate ev with Latex I'd need to jump the gap immediately. Maybe I'll find someone who knows LaTex and cajole them into writing a debate template for me, but as it stands I'd basically need to learn an entirely new (and seemingly incomprehensible) programming language before I even get to cut my first card.

So I'm back to square one, how the hell should I cut cards? Since nobody's written a software package specifically tailored to the process yet (maybe I will someday...), I'm stuck with adapting a multi-purpose tool to the specific needs of card cutting.

My goals are as follows:
-Pretty evidence. I hate it when evidence looks like crap.
-Minimize work. I shouldn't have to re- re- re- format everything. Table of contents and such should be automatic.
-Working with others. Ideally, I'd like to be able to work with my students/other coaches on files. In the current mileu, this only works if we are all running the same word processor. This means I need to be able to convince people to convert.

My need to cooperate with others and my philosophical proclivities necessitate that this tool be (a) gratis, (b) libre, (c) cross-platform, and (d) collaboration-friendly. I'm maybe willing to cede b if it performs better at a, c, and d but otherwise my conditions are absolute.

Here's my options:

Pros: Very nice looking output, separation between content and presentation, probably extremely easy to use once I have it set up the way I want it
Cons: Large install size (>100MB), incomprehensible, I doubt I could convince anyone else to learn a new content authoring paradigm to collaborate with

Pros: Small install size, runs on a toaster, UI style follows versions of Word that people are familiar with. Works OK with word documents.
Cons: Not sure if it has some of the more "Advanced" features I need - table of contents, clear delineation of sections, etc.

Open Office
Pros: Like abiword but more features
Cons: bigger install size, can't get standalone (need the presnetation/spreadsheet goo), UI is farther from the de facto standard.

Google Docs
Pros: Runs in a web browser, built with collaboration in mind from the ground up
Cons: Probably doesn't have the features needed to make large files, especially table of contents and handling images.

Right now I am debating between OO and Abiword. Unfortunately, the time I spend learning the quirks and features of one is wasted if I decide that I need to move to another. Since abiword would probably be easiest to convert people from, I am going to start there and see if it gets the job done.

Offseason is the time for learning

Now that my super huge project for the semester is over, I have the time to start thinking about debate just a little bit more, as well as a little more time to do some experiments relating to debate that I had been meaning to try out for a while.

The first of these will be testing out whether or not LyX is a good word processor for making some debate documents. It has some features (quality print output, separation of content and presentation) that intrigue me as far as producing debate evidence goes, so I want to give it a shot. I'll be posting my experiences as I go along.

The first hurdle I have to get across is the need to define a "style" for debate evidence. Apparently this is a semi-advanced topic in the world of LyX, but the entire point of LyX is that I only have to do it once and then never ever have to worry about it ever again.