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:

Latex/Lyx:
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

Abiword:
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.

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GPS said...
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