Opinions version 2 of the GNU General Public License the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

I've noticed that a lot of people use word processors in order to type documents. There was a time when I did that, too. Now I generally don't do that: I use groff for my poetry and DocBook 5.0 for everything else, including papers and my website.

My main complaint with word processors is that they are WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). At first, this doesn't seem like a particular problem. But I've seen people write papers that use bulleted lists differently throughout the paper or that have some paragraphs indented whilst others aren't. This lack of consistency is annoying and looks unprofessional.

When I use DocBook, I don't have to tell the computer to produce italics. Instead, I tell it that some text is to be emphasized, or that it is the title of a book, or that is a word being used solely as a word (such as in The term for the brains of a computer is processor). The computer automatically determines that these things need to be italicized. In other words, I am making the computer do my work for me. I don't have to remember any of the rules. And if I decide that I'd like words used solely as words to be in bold instead, it requires one change in one place, and it will affect every document I generate from then on.

It's not just simple presentation, either. I can write a document in the same way whether I'm writing English or Spanish. The computer can automatically determine the proper headings (bibliography or bibliografía). If I decide to include a quotation in German that itself includes a quotation, I don't have to even think about what type of quotation marks to use. I can simply say that certain text is a quotation, and the software will automatically determine the symbols to use around the quotation.

I believe that computers are a powerful tool. Making the computer do the work for me saves me time, makes my product more consistent, and allows me to easily make changes if necessary.