Collaborative writing of LaTeX documents
The other day I came upon this webpage on wikibooks: http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/LaTeX/Collaborative_Writing_of_LaTeX_Documents. It lists possible methods to write LaTeX documents with co-authors, and there seems to be plenty of solutions, from fully online LaTeX editors to convenient way to sync local files.
The “usual” options are [0) to send an email to the coauthors each time you edit something (please don’t do that)] 1) to use subversion or other versioning systems to sync their files, but this requires a SVN server somewhere, which for instance we haven’t got at CREST, and it requires that all authors sync their files on a regular basis, ie that all authors know how to use a versioning software (which is probably the case in some research areas but not necessarily in statistics). Option 2) is to sync the files using for instance Dropbox as cited on the page, which allows to conveniently share the documents but doesn’t have a lot of versioning features. So basically, if two authors edit the same file at the same time, it results in a conflict case instead of trying to merge the files on the fly, like a real versioning software should do.
To go further than these two options, some solutions listed in the webpage look very cool, especially:
- Gobby: it’s a text editor (not LaTeX specific) to write collaboratively. You have to install it locally (available on Windows and Linux, there’s also documentation on how to install it on Mac OS), but then it seems very convenient, with the files on top of the window and a little chat window below, where you can communicate with the connected co-authors. Since it’s a “local” solution you don’t need to trust a web-service, which might be a big plus for the paranoids among us.
- TitanPad, ScribTex, MonkeyTex… these are all web services, so you can edit your files from any web-browser, it’s the ultimate nomad solution. However since it’s online, you have the trust the host. Plus I didn’t test them but it might provide less editing functions than a local software. It’s also the only solution available if one of the authors can’t install LaTeX locally.
At some point in the writing of LaTeX document, one usually wants to use a LaTeX-specific editor with advanced functionalities, to handle the bibliography, the index, etc. But for a first draft at the beginning of a team project, next time I’ll definitely try one of these online solutions!