Dec 13, 2012

Scientific Workplace and it's 'Style Editor'

Last update: 2/25/2013

  More findings

  Style Editor enables ones to add styles to your TEX typesetting document by simply bushing buttons, much like what you did in MS Words. You highlight your text or paragraphs and push tool buttons ( can be multiple) on your tool bar to add decorations. So you don't need to type TEX commands every time you want a different style. I believe Style Editor serves this purpose by creating another file called *.sty file and by inserting flags in the original tex files. When SWP compiles the .tex file and reads a flag it will detour to the .sty file where the real formats are saved and apply them. Not super sure about this but we don't really need to know anyway. (If you want to know more - >

  SWP really is a good software but their documentary really needs to catch up. I think the reason why this software didn't earn its name is because users can not even find a understandable instructional manual (the idea of making the whole online help section into many tex files is really really unwise.....). Well, we can not blame MacKichan because after all TEX/LATEX is not easy to use and they also have bad documentary. As for SWP, opposed to many other users, I hanged on there. After many guessing and trials-and-errors I finally started to tame this potential dark horse.

  Here I will share some thoughts about the feature 'Style editor' in SWP. This feature is really really useful if you are tired of typing in TEX commands, especially true when you are typesetting a decorative document like a resume like I do. The help files of SWP on Style Editor is really really messy and unclear, and believe me, will drive you crazy. But as scientists, unweaving entanglement is our specialty...

Files that are involved:
.tex, .sty(in C:\swp50\TCITeX\TeX\LaTeX\styledit)

  The most important help file you need to at least read through is 'style editor help files'. You can find it using 'Search' function under 'help' tool button. Open a new file in SWP, a window shows up and ask you to select a style shell file (the .cst file). Select a Style Editor style (styles under 'style editor' tag). Now type in some text. Now open the 'Style Editor...' window  from the 'Tool'  tag in the tool bar. Select the .sty file that has the same file name as your .cst file. You are now in the Style Editor window ready to add elements, decorative formats.

  Two useful functions are 'Paragraph Environment' and 'Text tag' under the 'Elements' tag. They allow you to control stuff like the color and font size of the text and also the paragraph spacing between elements. Once you create any of these elements it will show up in the drop down menu in SWP main window at the bottom. Then you can 'attach' these styles to your paragraphs or texts by selecting them from the drop down bottom.

The 'Margins' under 'Base' tag controls your edible text area in a page. Set this first.

  1. If you need a section in your page to appear as two columns, search for 'Creating Multiple Columns in Typeset Documents' in SWP help files.
  2. When you do something in Style Editor, the changes you made are all saved in .sty file. You may encounter times when the saving action is not successful, or problematic, (at least I did a couple of times), then other then giving up you may try to edit the file directly with a word editor (the syntax or structure of a .sty file is very simple once you open it you will know what I am saying). Also the action of saving, writing files, takes a couple of seconds so wait a second when you are moving from one step to another. (e.g. if you move too fast you might find the change you just made were not saved...)
  3. Resume: Exceptional pages like a title page is not suitable for a resume. Exceptional pages are useful when you only have a few elements on the first page, like a thesis title page. To create a resume, one easy way I do is: still use a resume style (New files.. > choose a style editor resume shell template). Then go to style editor window (Tools... > Style Editor... ) and remove the exceptional page (in Parts.... > Exceptional Page...). Delete Exceptional page on the left. Go back to SWP and delete all content in your tex file. And then go to Style Editor and edit the 'Paragraph Environment' and 'Text tag' to create your own decorating styles, you may want to copy your .sty file before you make changes, in SWP help file look for 'Style Editor help file' > Create a Copy of the Style under a New Name. Then type in contents in SWP and create decorations with the tags you created at the bottom drop down menu. 
  4. The elements (or format information) you create in Style Editor will show up in SWP as tags in the drop-down menus at the bottom of the SWP window.

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