Month: October 2009

Restructured text, a new friend

A problem I alluded to in an earlier post is my inability to transform LaTeX documents generated using Sweave into MS Word documents which are nicely formatted (or even readable!). I took a step back and looked at a rather easy text markup system called Restructured Text (rst). This markup is used extensively for python documentation using the python docutils module and allows transformation of the text file into both LaTex and formats (via a user-supplied script). The LaTeX file can then be transformed to PDF using pdflatex. The file can easily be translated to MS Word using either the internal converters or (as I have done) adapting some python scripts from Danny’s python modules. I now maintain a Makefile which can automate both sets of conversions, generating high-definition png graphics from pdf graphics for the conversion.

I use Frank Harrell’s Hmisc library extensive for summary tables. These tables are printed on screen in a format perfectly compatible with rst. Other tables are quite easy to format as well.

The resultant Word and PDF files are quite nicely formatted, much better than letting LaTeX take care of things itself. So with a bit more automating scripts, this should generate beautiful reports pretty soon.