Latex on windows
November 11, 2009 11:38 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to use latex on windows?

I use latex on a windows machine. For about 6 years I have been doing this using xemacs as an editor, miktex, ghostscript & ghostview, and yap (for viewing dvi files) or a pdf viewer (for pdf files).

Is there a better way? Should I switch to one of the newer programs like latex editor (led), texniccenter, or winedt? I would appreciate learning about the pros and cons of these new packages.

(I understand that related questions have been asked before, but they are either a couple years old or don't have much detail on the different software.)
posted by medusa to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have heard WinEdt is excellent. I have used TexnicCenter fairly successfully with students; its main advantage is that it's free.

I use TeXShop on the mac, and the reason I like using it as opposed to one of the more cobbled-together options is that I don't have to do anything: I just download the installer (there's a bundled TeXShop/MacTeX installer), and the installer takes care of all the setup. I can effortlessly switch back and forth between source and compiled versions; it's even got syncing, so I can click on a place in my compiled version and go back to the corresponding place int he source, and vice versa. It's great. (My recollection is that TeXnicCenter has a much poorer connection between source and compiled.)
posted by leahwrenn at 11:47 AM on November 11, 2009

I use Miktex and Tecniccenter. Miktex has a nice automatic package install and update feature, TexnicCenter was a good beginners suite for using Latex. If still worked fined after I became an advanced user.

If you know what Eclipse is, you might want to consider a Latex plugin for it.
posted by oxit at 11:50 AM on November 11, 2009

I use TeXnicCenter and SumatraPDF with the latest MikTex distribution, and it works well. The synctex feature is nice. I never use DVI or PS, I always use PDFTeX.
posted by demiurge at 12:01 PM on November 11, 2009

I've not used it for latex, but I've pointed people to Notepad++ before when WinEdit has been unpopular due to cost, and its generally satisfied people.
posted by edd at 12:34 PM on November 11, 2009

I wrote my (physics) thesis in WinEdt and loved it. Well worth the cost, IMHO.
posted by stevis23 at 12:45 PM on November 11, 2009

Best answer: I use winedt and like it fine.

But I'd recommend that if your current usage pattern ain't terribly broken, don't try to fix it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:48 PM on November 11, 2009

Best answer: For about 6 years I have been doing this using...

It's my opinion that there are only three good reasons to change something that has worked for six years:

1. your hand is forced by a decree from above, or the manufacturer abandoning the product, etc.

2. your goal is to learn something new, and you're willing to accept the temporary loss of productivity and serenity

3. the last six years have been really, really terrble (in comparison to what is possible with other methods, not in your memory).

If you're having trouble deciding on point three, I can tell you that MikTeX/GS/Yap is a common LaTeX bundle on the Windows side, and Xemacs is a great general purpose editor.
posted by d. z. wang at 12:49 PM on November 11, 2009

Best answer: Are you using AucTex and RefTex on emacs? I only discovered them recently (LaTeX user for six years too) and they've revolutionized my LaTeX workflow.
posted by Omission at 1:09 PM on November 11, 2009

Best answer: I've used both WinEDT and Emacs (but not Xemacs). I found the main advantages of WinEDT over Emacs to be fairly minor:
  1. a less steep learning curve
  2. buttons you can click to compile to dvi and to convert dvi to pdf
  3. a selection menu of various notation stuff (e.g.: \bar, \tilde, \sim, etc...) with pictures
The first is moot if you already know Emacs. The second is not really a huge advantage over pressing up-arrow in the command-line history (and there might actually be a pulldown menu item for this in Xemacs). The last might be helpful if you use a lot of different notation or if you have a bad memory for latex.

On preview: Omission has a very good point. New latex packages rather than a new editor or IDE would likely have a much larger impact on your life.
posted by mhum at 1:42 PM on November 11, 2009

I would suggest having a look at LyX, particularly if you want to introduce non-techy types to latex. I wrote my CS PhD thesis in LyX. However, another vote for "if it ain't broken, don't fix it".
posted by polyglot at 5:37 PM on November 11, 2009

Best answer: I use Emacs for my editor. I used to use TexnicCenter (or whatever it's called), but as soon as I finally learned emacs, I just found it to be much more powerful, and the idea of never moving your hands from the keyboard really works for me when I'm editing documents.

My basic workflow is:
1) write some awesome stuff that's going revolutionize my field. (riiight...)
2) C-c C-c View to run Latex
3) alt+tab into Yap, which causes it to refresh the file

I use DVI, because latex runs much faster than pdflatex on windows, and the DVI viewer seems to be much more performant and lightweight than Foxit Reader. Foxit also doesn't do the auto-refresh thing. I haven't tried SumatraPDF, but I think it fixes at least some of these issues. For the final paper that I actually mail out, or print, I usually use PDF because it tends to look better on the screen, and it's more universal.

I use MikTex to install every possible latex package once, and then never worry about it again.
posted by !Jim at 8:53 PM on November 11, 2009

I use MikTex, Ghostscript Viewer, and yap just like you. But I switched from Emacs to vim. I use a package called Vim-LaTeX to get highlighting and syntax in my tex files.
posted by qmechanic at 9:49 PM on November 11, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for the helpful comments, you all are awesome. I love ask.metafilter!

ROU_Xenophobe and d. z. wang: thanks for pointing out good/bad reasons to switch to something new.

Omission: thanks for pointing out these packages. I've used auctex but didn't realize some of its more amazing features - like preview. I haven't used reftex, and it looks amazing.

mhum: thanks for the most detailed comparison of winedt and emacs. This was informative.

!Jim: thanks for the reminder that emacs is wonderful because everything can be done from the keyboard.

My conclusion is that sticking with my current setup but learning more about auctex and reftex is the best way to go. It seems the main advantage of the newer packages is ease of learning, which isn't a big problem for me. I do truly love avoiding mouse usage, and my current setup seems great for that.
posted by medusa at 8:14 PM on November 17, 2009

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