En réponse à Felix Ahlner :

>Hello there,
>for some time now, I've been hearing a lot about LaTeX, and I understand
>the basics (I think...), but can someone tell me which programs I need ­
>and where to find them ­ in order to transform a simple text file into a

If you're using Windows, just download MikTeX ( and 
you'll have all the tools needed (they've even added tools to convert LaTeX 
into HTML! :) ).

>Are these the steps? :
>1) Write code in notepad/whatever
>2) Code is processed by interpreter-program X into a file
>3) This file is processed into a PDF by another program

Not necessarily. There are tools that process the code directly into PDF. 
But it's true that normally LaTeX files are first processed into DVI 
(DeVice Independent) files which can be converted to various formats 
(Postcript and PDF being the main ones).

>I often imagine it to be like HTML, the code can be written in virtually
>any text program, but the reading of the code can be made in IE, Netscape,
>Opera etc etc. Then, you can also have plugins like JavaApplets, Flash,
>ActiveX etc.
>Is it the same with LaTeX? : the code is standardized, and there are
>plugins if you want to write in Arabic, Hebrew, your own Conlang etc. And
>finally: many different programs which "interpret" the code into a file
>which is _then_ made into a PDF.

Actually, there are not *that* many tools to process LaTeX files. Since the 
existing ones are already bug-free and freeware, there's just no point in 
reinventing the wheel (also, the fact that Microsoft has never messed up 
with the format helps keeping some unity there :)) ). As for "plugins", 
they are called "packages" and are just LaTeX files themselves (so you can 
easily write your own!). They are closer to modules or header files in 
programming languages than plugins.

Once again, I suggest moving this discussion to the LaTeX-for-Conlangers 
group. As indicated by the name, I created the group specifically for 
conlangers wishing to learn about (La)TeX and its companion METAFONT, so it 
would be a shame not using it :)) .

Christophe Grandsire.

You need a straight mind to invent a twisted conlang.