ShareLaTeX: Collaborative LaTeX editing with style

For anyone who is a fan of \LaTeX, there is a great site, ShareLaTeX, that allows editing of LaTeX files via the browser. Never used \LaTeX? Well, it’s a rich typesetting system that among other things, allows for pretty printing of mathematics, like this: P(A|B) = \frac{P(B|A)P(A)}{P(B)}. (Bayes’ theorem has been on my mind a lot lately…).

Ok, that looks cool, but why would one anyone use this? Well, you might have to if you are a grad student. 😉 The \LaTeX learning curve can be quite steep, since it’s a completely different philosophy to editing documents than the “Microsoft Word” way. It is not a WYSIWYG system. Similar to how one compiles source code, \LaTeX documents are compiled into pdfs, dvis, etc…

ShareLaTeX closes the write / compile / view loop and has a nice side-by-side edit and view display. In the spirit of Bret Victor’s life principle that creator’s need an immediate connection, ShareLaTeX allows for instant feedback with the typesetting process.

Lastly, they just incorporated some pretty advanced features. Their blog has the latest news, but latexdiff looks especially cool.

latexdiff in action
Wow! Let’s see Word do this! :p

If you are an Emacs/ AUCTeX user there is still a good use case for shareLaTeX.  Until you get Emacs on your Chromebook, you’ll need an online \LaTeX editor. 😉  And they even support Emacs key bindings! (and also cough vi cough)


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