How Not to Package Software

I’ve just been trying to get Texmaker to run. This is a free programme for writing stuff in LaTeX, and I needed it to write some equations for a blog post (I tried OpenOffice, but couldn’t find where it stored the gifs when you convert to html!).


I’ve used it before, and got it working, but not this time. I dare anyone to go to the web page, and get it working from the configuration instructions:

1. Configuring Texmaker
Before using Texmaker, you must configure the editor and latex related commands via the “Configure Texmaker” command in the “Options” menu (“Preferences” under macosx).
1.1 Configuring the editor
Before compiling your first document, you must set the encoding used by the editor (“Configure Texmaker” -> “Editor” -> “Editor Font Encoding”). Then, you should use the same encoding in the preamble of yours TeX documents (example : \usepackage[latin]{inputenc}, if you use the “ISO-8859-1″ encoding for the editor)
1.2 Configuring the latex related commands
Texmaker can’t compile yours documents if the paths to the LaTeX related commands are wrong.
The default settings should work with the recent and standard LaTeX distributions, but you should have to modify them (“Configure Texmaker” -> “Commands”). To change a command, just click on the button at the end of the corresponding line and select the command in the file browser : texmaker will adapt automatically the syntax of the command.
The % character represents the name of the file without the extension and the @ character will be replaced by the current line number.

In fact, unless you’re lucky (or you’ve done it before), it’s impossible. Why? Well, it’s because you need another programme to get it to run: Texmaker doesn’t include the tools to interpret the LaTeX text. But nowhere in the instructions re you told this.
Now, I’ve run into this problem before, so I’ve got MiKTeX installed. But it’s still not working, and the error is same as if MiKTeX wasn’t installed. I’m guessing, therefore, that Texmaker doesn’t know where it is. But it’s impossible to work out what to do, because the manual doesn’t even acknowledge that you need to install the ******g thing. And no, I’m not the only person to have had this problem.
This isn’t rocket science – it’s stupid enough that you have to download two different programmes, but I would have thought it would be pretty obvious that you had to give instructions for getting the two programmes to talk to each other (and some hint about what to do if they don’t). not even acknowledging that you need another programme shows a cluelessness.
I’m now re-installing MiKTex, after which I’ll re-install Texmaker (just reinstalling Texmaker doesn’t work). Oh, and I’m installing the full MiKTeX installation, rather than the basic. I might only need the basic installation, but I’ve no idea because I can’t find a page on their website that explains what the difference between the two is.
LaTeX has a deserved reputation for being a bit of a pain to learn. I hadn’t realised that you were expected to be psychic as well.

About rpg

Scientist, poet, gadfly
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3 Responses to How Not to Package Software

  1. Sabine Hossenfelder says:
  2. Bob O'Hara says:

    Thanks, Sabine. I’ll look at that if this doesn’t work.
    MiKTeX stopped, and told me it couldn’t allocate enough resources. and then refused to close until I gave it a severe kicking. So I’m now installing the basic version.

  3. Bob O'Hara says:

    Phew. I has to uninstall MiKTeX and Texmaker, and then install them both, and now it’s working. I just hope the basic MiKTeX is enough for what I need.