It's compiling right now actually
September 28, 2008 11:25 AM   Subscribe

How do you deal with a long compile time breaking your concentration?

I'm working on a large LaTeX document that requires a compilation run of a couple of minutes. The whole text is split in smaller files that can be compiled individually, but I am currently on the final stages, where I do minor fixes and remake the entire build. Waiting for compilation is killing my productivity, as this break is ideal for things like checking MeFi.

Anyone have a good strategy to deal with this?
posted by ghost of a past number to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Patience. Or videos.
posted by beerbajay at 11:32 AM on September 28, 2008

Unplug your distractions. If your build takes five minutes, you can say to yourself "Self, we're going off line for an hour or twelve tweaks, whichever comes first."
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 11:37 AM on September 28, 2008

Best answer: You need to find things to do during the compiles that (a) are productive, meaning that you don't afterwards regret having spent five minutes on them, and (b) that you can stop doing when the compile finishes, without being mentally jarring. For me, and it seems for you as well, the Internet fails test (b), even when it doesn't fail (a).

Alternatives include: (i) multitasking with some other work project, (ii) making edits to a later chapter in the document (on paper, say), (iii) listening to music, (iv) reading an article on paper for work, (v) brainstorming about some related topic, (vi) getting a cup of tea, (vii) bathroom break (necessary if you do (vi) too often).

And good luck on your dissertation.
posted by sesquipedalian at 11:54 AM on September 28, 2008

Are you sure you need to remake the entire build every time? When I had a multi-file LaTeX document, I commented away \include -commands for many of the more graphics heavy chapters while I wasn't focusing on them.
posted by Free word order! at 12:02 PM on September 28, 2008

MeeTimer will stop you whenever you look at a procrastination site, which gives you a chance to do something useful instead.
posted by siskin at 12:22 PM on September 28, 2008

What are you doing that requires complete rebuilds? You know about \includeonly I trust? Fwo's incorrect suggestion of commenting out \include commands will fuck your .aux files, forcing two whole rebuilds. \includeonly does a partial rebuild using those old .aux files, thus preserving your theorem, page, etc. numbering.

You might also have you're font cashing set horribly wrong. Or you're maybe running memory hog software eating up you're OS's cache. I imagine latex + xdvi is faster than pdflatex or latex + dvipdf for a pdf viewer.

Slife also sounds useful if your running Mac OS X.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:19 PM on September 28, 2008

Response by poster: What are you doing that requires complete rebuilds?

Checking global things like page numbering, float placement, cross-references and bibliography ordering. To be honest, my question is not really about optimising my build, it's more about keeping focus. Whatever you do, sometimes you have to work in 5-minute chunks.

You know about \includeonly I trust?

Yes, but my files are included with \input, not \include for (sort of) good reasons, which I honestly can't remember right now: \include was breaking something way back when.

You might also have you're font cashing set horribly wrong.

This sounds interesting - any pointers to information?

Or you're maybe running memory hog software eating up you're OS's cache.

Don't think so - just my everyday stuff, still got about 300 MB of real RAM to go.
posted by ghost of a past number at 12:07 AM on September 29, 2008

You should figure out why you can't use \include because \includeonly fixes this. \include's main problem is that it breaks pages, but you want that between chapters. Do you have some report style guide forbidding page brakes between chapters? If some package breaks \include, then try updating the package, and next try fixing it. You can also break \include by leaving \def or \newcommand all over your \include'd files while using those definitions outside those files.

I don't know about metafont's (mf) configuration files, but I suppose they live in texmf/web2c along with your texmf.cnf. If you're font cache is too small, then you'll see xdvi, dvips, dvipdf, pdflatex frequently running mf, although still not every time, so look for that.

Yes, it's cute how many ask mefi posts are about how to not read mefi. :P
posted by jeffburdges at 12:42 AM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: Late, and this sounds kinda foo-foo and obvious, but I recommend that you Look At Something Besides Your Monitor. I use this approach when possible and it works for me.

Get up, walk to a window, look outside, watch leaves moving. Get a drink of water. Load the washer. Load the dryer. Unload the dryer. Play with the dog. Unplug your brain for a second.

Your eyes will thank you, as will your back and hands. And your dog.
posted by jmcmurry at 12:41 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Updating on my own old AskMe since I've hit on an excellent idea - desk toys. Just stumbled on a bunch of old geomags in a drawer, works great.
posted by ghost of a past number at 11:16 PM on October 22, 2008

« Older Vocals + melancholy piano   |   Why does everything in my apartment get moldy? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.