Author Topic: Best tools for Thesis writing  (Read 7822 times)

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Offline kody

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Best tools for Thesis writing
« on: November 14, 2014, 02:07:25 am »
Which are the best tools to use for creating figures/flowcharts/diagrams and tables and charts and graphs for Thesis/Dissertation purposes.

Any other useful programs to be used. The software should integrate well with LyX.
 

Offline Leiothrix

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2014, 02:32:57 am »
When I saw the title I was going to suggest Lyx, but you beat me to it.

My suggestion would be JabRef , which is a bibliography/reference manager.

The tools you mentioned don't need to integrate at all though, all you're doing is inserting a picture in the document.
 

Online Andy Watson

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2014, 02:48:30 am »
I used LaTeX with my favourite text editor. I used Gnuplot for the charts and tikz for making diagrams. However, I didn't have many diagrams to make, and they were reasonably simple diagrams - although the results are good, it would probably be painfully tedious to create any significant amount of diagrams with tikz. Using tikz also tied me to using the pdfLaTeX compiler, although this turned out to be beneficial when it came to disseminating my work for criticism by non-LaTeX people.

Gnuplot was excellent for making graphs, but I think I would have struggled if I had not purchased the book. I found it easy to translate output from octave into to gnuplot.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2014, 09:43:14 am by Andy Watson »
 

Offline German_EE

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2014, 07:20:07 am »
I typed my thesis on an IBM Selectric and the diagrams were hand drawn by a graphic artist. I feel old.
Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.

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Online coppice

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2014, 07:42:25 am »
I typed my thesis on an IBM Selectric and the diagrams were hand drawn by a graphic artist. I feel old.
A Selectric and a graphic artist? What luxury.
 

Offline zapta

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2014, 07:54:02 am »
I used FrameMaker, including for diagrams. Microsoft office wasn't good enough at the time.
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Offline Whales

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #6 on: November 14, 2014, 09:44:42 am »
Stick to strict-diagram software as much as you can (it should hopefully save you time and effort), but eventually you will hit some limitations.

https://inkscape.org

Generic vector software.  Very powerful and easy to use (IMHO, but I've used it a long time).  I'm not sure if Lyx supports .svg natively or if you have to export PNGs, but that's not much of hassle (and Lyx auto-updates if the source image file changes).

Online coppice

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #7 on: November 14, 2014, 10:11:34 am »
I used FrameMaker, including for diagrams. Microsoft office wasn't good enough at the time.
I wonder what you mean by that. Microsoft Word is even worse for producing complex documents now than it was in the heyday of FrameMaker. Its inability to enforce the separation of presentation style and content means almost every Word document in existence has stylistic inconsistencies that are very hard to clean up.

FrameMaker seems to have gone underground, as part of the XML/DITA way of building complex documents. It seems like few people who are not full time technical authors are even aware of that world.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2014, 10:26:43 am by coppice »
 

Offline aon

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #8 on: November 14, 2014, 10:13:09 am »
Graphviz is a good tool for drawing some kinds of diagrams (but extremely tedious for some others). It can export as EPS which I imagine LyX can import.
 

Online coppice

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2014, 10:30:02 am »
Graphviz is a good tool for drawing some kinds of diagrams (but extremely tedious for some others). It can export as EPS which I imagine LyX can import.
I have tried to use graphviz for several things over the years, but it always seems too quirky to be really useful. For example, it can produce some very exotically curved connecting lines, that need serious editing so things fit nicely on a page.
 

Offline KJDS

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2014, 10:52:30 am »
I can't remember which typewriter my B Thesis was typed on.

My Masters thesis was done with Lex on a PDP11 mainframe and all the diagrams were hand drawn, literally pasted into spaces on the print out and then photocopied.

Offline German_EE

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2014, 01:11:38 pm »
Exactly, then you remove the black marks on the copy around each pasted diagram with correction fluid and copy again  :)

And the Selectric was hired from an office equipment company.
Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks.

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Online VEGETA

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #12 on: November 14, 2014, 01:34:29 pm »
well, for me MS Office 2013 is good enough. but i used LibreOffice for mine some years ago. I didn't need fancy stuff though.
 

Offline Balaur

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2014, 02:30:54 pm »
tools: make, latex, gnuplot, spell, xcircuit
additional content from bibtex files, screen caps from EDA tools, etc

The presentation was in PowerPoint though.
 

Offline zapta

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2014, 03:05:43 pm »
I used FrameMaker, including for diagrams. Microsoft office wasn't good enough at the time.
I wonder what you mean by that. Microsoft Word is even worse for producing complex documents now than it was in the heyday of FrameMaker. Its inability to enforce the separation of presentation style and content means almost every Word document in existence has stylistic inconsistencies that are very hard to clean up.

It means that I expect Word to improve over time. Don't really know because I stopped  using it when it got those funny menus. 
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Offline free_electron

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2014, 03:09:37 pm »
Adobe illustrator + adobe Indesign

free alternatives ( close but no real cigar)

Inkscape. i don't know of an alternative for indesign.
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Offline liquibyte

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2014, 03:41:04 pm »
Adobe illustrator + adobe Indesign

free alternatives ( close but no real cigar)

Inkscape. i don't know of an alternative for indesign.
Scribus maybe?  I've never used Indesign before.
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2014, 04:53:46 pm »
FrameMaker seems to have gone underground, as part of the XML/DITA way of building complex documents.

Adobe bought FrameTechnology, the maker of FrameMaker, and pretty much ruined the product.
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Offline Stigaard

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #18 on: November 14, 2014, 05:24:57 pm »
For graphs, I would suggest taking a look at R with ggplot2, it allows for some nice plots with an emphasis on readability. Furthermore it fits very well into a latex workflow.
It does however have a bit of a learning curve as R is a very powerful statistics tool
For figures I tend to use tikz but then again, I don't do that many figures.
 

Offline Someone

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2014, 02:57:17 am »
Matlab/Scilab etc will product vector output from their figures when pressed, either insert those directly or tidy up with Inkscape. Inkscape will do all the flowchart stuff quickly but be prepared for a learning curve (and get the guides/snaps right before starting).
 

Online IanB

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #20 on: November 15, 2014, 03:06:58 am »
I wonder what you mean by that. Microsoft Word is even worse for producing complex documents now than it was in the heyday of FrameMaker. Its Word users' inability to enforce the separation of presentation style and content means almost every Word document in existence has stylistic inconsistencies that are very hard to clean up.

There, I've fixed that for you.

Word does have bugs, and I hate it for that, but if you know how to use it it can do just what you want. The inability to "force" the separation of presentation style and content is what happens when you are trying to cater to a mass market of users who don't know what they are doing. But if you do know what you are doing, Word is completely able to support the separation of style and content.

It's just like safety features on power tools. Those safeguards are there to help prevent the clueless from injuring themselves. But if you are an expert you can discard the safety features and have more control over what you are doing.

For what it's worth, I can make very complex technical documents in Word and see no reason to look anywhere else.
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 

Offline nixfu

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #21 on: November 15, 2014, 03:44:32 am »
LaTex is best by far, LyX if you are a cheater. 

http://www.latex-project.org/

Old school is best for a reason.
 

Online coppice

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #22 on: November 15, 2014, 08:37:18 am »
I wonder what you mean by that. Microsoft Word is even worse for producing complex documents now than it was in the heyday of FrameMaker. Its Word users' inability to enforce the separation of presentation style and content means almost every Word document in existence has stylistic inconsistencies that are very hard to clean up.

There, I've fixed that for you.

Word does have bugs, and I hate it for that, but if you know how to use it it can do just what you want. The inability to "force" the separation of presentation style and content is what happens when you are trying to cater to a mass market of users who don't know what they are doing. But if you do know what you are doing, Word is completely able to support the separation of style and content.

It's just like safety features on power tools. Those safeguards are there to help prevent the clueless from injuring themselves. But if you are an expert you can discard the safety features and have more control over what you are doing.

For what it's worth, I can make very complex technical documents in Word and see no reason to look anywhere else.
Any time you slip and paste a chunk of text into a word document without ensuring it is stripped of any formatting information you leave the document in a mess that is difficult to back out of. Word doesn't even have a "paste as raw text" type of paste option. You need to do something like pasting into notepad, and copying back out of there. When people are working on their content, they don't want the distraction of having to rigorously check their every step so they don't mess up the formatting.

Word is the complete opposite of a safety feature on a power tool. It never tries to stop you doing dumb things. It has no selectable "enforce formatting from the template" type of feature. If you regularly produce documents without ever making a slip then you must be very disciplined. Most people don't achieve this. Look through some of the technical documents, like ITU specs, that you can get in Word format from the web, and see how few have been able to keep the template cleanly applied throughout. Its crazy that in 2014 we still have this issue.
 

Online IanB

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Re: Best tools for Thesis writing
« Reply #23 on: November 15, 2014, 10:14:30 am »
Word doesn't even have a "paste as raw text" type of paste option.
Of course it does. Not only can you paste as plain text using paste special, you can make this the default option. Even if you forgot and did a formatted paste, you can click on the pasted text and fix it immediately:



Quote
Word is the complete opposite of a safety feature on a power tool. It never tries to stop you doing dumb things. It has no selectable "enforce formatting from the template" type of feature.
It does indeed have such a feature, since at least Word 2007:



Your statements are simply not accurate.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2014, 10:16:12 am by IanB »
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 


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