New uumthesis LaTeX Class and LyX Layout

On request, I have created a LaTeX class and LyX layout for writing Universiti Utara Malaysia theses. Credit goes to Dr. Mohd. Hasbullah bin Omar for getting the output endorsed by UUM’s Graduate Office.

The uumthesis LaTeX class, LyX layout, sample files and user manual can be downloaded from my website. Happy LaTeXing to UUMians!

DIA + Lyx

Before I discover DIA, I used Microsoft Visio for schematic drawing to be included into my documents. The schematic drawn has to be exported into a graphic file, in which I prefer .png format. Then only it can be included in .tex document as a graphic.
Then I found DIA. You can search the web for more info on the software itself. In short, it is an open source software Lyx as well. What I found to be helpful is that, DIA has an extension to convert .dia files, where you save the schematic drawing, into graphic files in the format of .png which can be called directly by Lyx.
What I have to do is, draw whatever schematic that I want, save it in .dia format. Then in Lyx, insert the graphic as usual. At the graphic file name field, insert the .dia file name. Lyx will treat that as the graphic file where you can resize etc. similar to any graphic files included using the method. 
Another setting to be done is that to let Lyx know where to fine the DIA extension to convert .dia file to .png file so that Lyx can call it upon generating final document. The setting can be found under menu Tools > Preferences and under File Handling > Converters tab. Under From format pulldown menu, search for DIA and under To format pulldown menu, search for PNG. In Converter field, insert this
dia -e $$o -t png $$i

and click Add button. That is it. Now you can use .dia file directly to include graphic into you document. Happy trying. See you soon.

Unexplained error

I faced this kind of error before. What I mean by unexplained is that the location of error shown by Lyx does not contain any error. Sometime it is just one word without any LaTeX command at the location. By the way, I should mention for the benefit of newcomer, Lyx will highlight the supposedly error location. In this case of error, the highlight is at random location and you can explain what is the actual error. The unexplained error usually occurs, at least I experienced it, once I include a citation. I use BibTeX to generate reference list. The .bib file is linked to the Lyx file and once a citation is included, BibTeX will run the process of creating the list. Error will occur if the bib database contains error, usually it has an illegal character. You know, citation info can be exported directly from publisher’s webpage or even from Google Scholar page. The auto export function is the culprit of the error. Some of the article title or even the name of authors can have illegal characters. Most of it is characters like % and &, which is the command character in LaTeX. So, the errors can be overcomed by making sure that the bib database doesn’t have any of this illegal characters. That will it for now. See you soon!

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Getting started with Lyx

Well, to get started with Lyx is pretty straight forward. Of course you have to install the software, which you can download from lyx.org. The installation is again, straight forward. No much hassle. Just say yes to all the question. Unless you want to tweak some features.
Basically it is just like using word processor (Microsoft of OpenOffice or LibreOffice). Create a new file, then you are almost ready to go. If you are using source code editor, first command you put in is
\documentclass[]{}
Well, you have to do the same with Lyx. The function can be found in menu Document > Settings. Here basically you can do all the setting necessary. You can select the class file from dropdown menu under Document Class tab. By default, there are few classes already installed in Lyx. That includes article, IEEEtran, elsarticle, beamer (if I not mistaken), book etc. If the class is not installed, it will be marked as Unavailable.
To make a class available in Lyx dropdown menu, you have to create the layout file. It will link the class to the ui of Lyx so that it can be shown. Creating a layout file is very easy. Here is the most basic layout file that can work with any class file.
#% Do not delete the line below; configure depends on this
# \DeclareLaTeXClass[classfilename]{name-to-appear-in-dropdown-menu}
input stdclass.inc
With that the class file can already work provided that it is saved with the same file name as the class file name, i.e. the class file is myclass.cls, therefore the layout file should be named, myclass.layout. As simple as that.
To include the layout in the dropdown list, you have to save the layout file in layouts folder in Lyx program folder and reconfigure Lyx through menu Tools > Reconfigure and close and reopen Lyx afterwards. Or, if you don’t want it listed, you can just use local layout option (there is a local layout button next to the dropdown menu). However, using this option, you must have the layout file in the same folder as your document file.
If you have zero knowledge of LaTeX, don’t worry. Once you have selected the document class, you can start entering document content. On top left corner, just below File menu, there is a dropdown menu with option Standard as default. This is called style picker. Standard is for normal text. Here you can select title, author, section, chapter, section*, theorem etc. depending on what is available in class and defined in layout. To change you text into certain style, you don’t have to select text, just simply put the cursor anywhere in the text line, and change the style. Now you can start typing the content.
I think that should be it for now. Next time, we will see how to add more than text in Lyx. Until then, happy LaTeXing.

WYSIWYM editor

LaTeX users would know that there are two types of editor, source code type and WYSIWYM type.

But first, thank you to Najmi and Lian Tze for inviting me to share something here. It is a great honor to do so. Knowledge kept to oneself has no price but knowledge shared is priceless.

I guess Najmi and Lian Tze can cover the source code editor type since they are way more experienced than me. I started using and learning to use it on a WYSIWYM editor. Lyx to be specific. You can check www.lyx.org or wiki.lyx.org for info on the software itself. With it I started to discover a lot of magnificent thing and I fall in love with LaTeX.

However, now I use less Lyx because I feel it limits my creativity to customize the output document. But nevertheless, I still think that Lyx can provide a soft and smooth transition from other WYSIWYG type word processor.

As like many other open source software, Lyx can be installed on machine running Windows, Linux and MacOS. They have just launch a 2.x.x version in May to mark their 15 years of existence.

In Lyx, apart from class and style files, there are one more file type native to it only called layout file. This file controls the look of your document on the Lyx interface. If you type a chapter heading, you want to to appear center align, bold and blue in color, you control it with layout file. But bear in mind that, what appears on Lyx interface is not necessarily what appeared in the final output document. Because layout and class file are different in nature, although must be same in filename.

Lyx come with some pretty standard group of layout files for some popular class files like IEEETran, Elsarticle, beamer etc. But if you create your own class file, you might want to create you own layout file so that it can be included in Lyx. Without layout file, you can’t call the class file.

That is all for now. Next time, how to start using Lyx with zero knowledge of LaTeX. Stay tune!