Online LaTeX Editors

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Vasilis Ververidis,123RF

Vasilis Ververidis,123RF

Sky Writing

You can edit your LaTeX documents with online editors that run across platforms and are device independent. Documents get saved online, thus giving you and other members of a work group easy access from anywhere.

Online editors for LaTeX documents cover a wide range of functionalities. At the most basic level, there is the formula editor, which uses LaTeX code for typesetting mathematical formulae. These formulae are then saved as image files for later use in an Office document. In addition, there are websites that simulate full LaTeX editors. These editors let you edit using LaTeX code and, typically, allow you to download the completed document as a PDF file afterwards.

Frequently, you will need to register, but once you do so, you will have access to a LaTeX editor and diverse templates, plus a storage location for your own documents. In many cases, you can share your documents with other users who have read and write permissions.

Formula Editors

A formula editor is actually not a full fledged LaTeX editor. These editors generate formulae from mathematical LaTeX code. You can download the formulae as image files and insert them into an Office document. These types of editors are interesting to users who as a rule use Office Suite to create documents, but who don't want to forego the excellent results achieved by LaTeX in typesetting formulae. From among the plethora of candidates available in this genre, I want to introduce two exceptional examples. These are the German language LaTeX-Formeleditor [1] and the English Daum Equation Editor [2].

The LaTeX-Formeleditor is tidy and plain, so it loads quickly. Despite the German language interface, it is very intuitive in its operation. Additionally, there is a brief set of instructions available as a PDF file. You can enter LaTeX code directly into the editor, or you can copy it to the editor. In addition, you have the option of clicking many formulae together using buttons for the most important mathematical symbols and functions. This lets novice users also use the program successfully.

You can download the finished formula as a PNG file using a link. This file will have a resolution ranging from 100 to 400 dpi. The editor makes the background transparent, or it fills it with a background color that you have defined in the RGB color model. The text color cannot be adjusted. Errors that occur when LaTeX code is edited get displayed by the editor. All of the formulae are stored permanently and can be downloaded as needed at any time via the corresponding link.

The Daum Equation Editor uses Adobe Flash and requires the corresponding plugin for your web browser. You can enter the code either directly or by combining the numerous templates from the large menu of symbols and formula. As with the LaTeX formula editor, you don't need LaTeX skills to use the Daum Equation Editor. You can save the LaTeX code and the finished expression as a PNG file. The program lets you select colors without restrictions for the text and the background from the RGB color model.

Admittedly, the Daum Equation Editor can only generate pure formulae. It will purposefully ignore LaTeX commands, such as \text{} for inserting text in a formula. It will typeset this text instead as a succession of variables in italics and without blank spaces.

Online Editors

Online LaTeX editors are web-based and simulate a full-fledged LaTeX editor. You type or copy your LaTeX code into the editor window and receive the finished document for downloading. These kind of online LaTeX editors are especially suitable for users who only occasionally use LaTeX to create simple documents and don't want to go to the effort of installing a complete LaTeX system on their computer. Regular LaTeX users can also profit from these online editors, since they can also work on a computer that is not equipped with the system and still use simple LaTeX documents. The most interesting specimen in this genre is TeXeR [3].

Other LaTeX services incorporate an online LaTeX editor into a complete platform that also makes templates and online storage space available. Ideally, this kind of package will let you share documents stored online for editing by other users. This makes it potentially possible for any member of a work group to work on a project. Examples in this category of editors include TeXonWeb [4], ShareLaTeX [5], and Overleaf [6].

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