* And Rosta said on 2005-11-15 03:13:27 +0100
> [..] I got to wondering about (La)TeX, & would be very grateful for
> informed advice on this score.

I'm writing my master's thesis in LaTeX, because it already has a lot of
packages fine-tuned for linguistics-works like gb4e for interlinears,
avm for HPSG/LFG and several packages to draw trees.
> My question is: What is the best document preparation software for
> someone who 
> (i) works a lot with truetype & unicode fonts,

I haven't had a need for this in LaTeX yet.

Something else good with fonts is Framemaker, but that is muuuch more
expensive than word.

> (ii) is a typography fetishist,

Both LaTeX and Framemaker are all about typography.

> (iii) loathes the frustrations of trying to get complicated software
> to work correctly or at all.

TeX (and LaTeX) are programming-languages, so the complicated things are
done in unusual ways to you. Table-of-contents and indexes are already
handled for instance, and it's all about marking up the text with
semantic styles. If you want pixel-perfect control, use TeX, as LaTeX
makes *a lot* of choices for you.

> (iv) is reluctant to learn lots of elaborate & radically new ways of
> doing old familiar things;

LyX <> is wysiwym (What You See Is What You Mean) and
you can do everything through menus, though I write all my LaTeX in vim
(with Latex-Suite) and is happy with that. If you don't use LyX the work
flow goes like this: 

1) write content
2) compile
3) watch (in a pdf-reader or postscript-reader)

> or, broadly speaking:
> (I) is generally very happy with Word 2003 (bar the cost and the 
> enslavement to Microsoft) but

Framemaker is a lot better but also much more expensive, but a lot

> (II) would like something that gives typographically better results (e.g. 
> intelligent handling of ff fl fi ligatures; centring diacritics over m & w) 
> and that doesn't severely degrade when typographical demands start getting 
> very heavy

Both Framemaker and TeX/LaTeX does this.

What I miss in LaTeX is an easy way to make new templates (in
Word-jargon), know as documentclasses in LaTeX2e. It's not at all easy
to do arbitrary things, like a one-sheet folded brochure, but extremely
easy to do what there already are documentclasses for, like (scientific)
articles, books, technical reports, presentations (use acroread to run
them) and anglo-style letters. Luckily I found a documentclass for
Norwegian-style letters (named "brev") or I would have needed something
else than LaTeX to write the first page of such.

Again, TeX gives *a lot* of control.