LaTeX: Pre-release impressions

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LaTeX was introduced to NCLab recently and we already plan substantial improvements, so this post is not a grand celebration yet. Nevertheless I want to share how easy it was to create my first professional LaTeX document – an invitation letter for an Italian professor. It was super easy – upload all files, press the green button, PDF appears. No changes in the sources were necessary. From now on I will write all my LaTeX documents in NCLab. One minor disadvantage is that the web browser text editor based on Code Mirror that we use in NCLab cannot match Emacs. But soon there will be other benefits that will make up for this shortcoming – we will automate the occasional second compilation, improve error reporting (users will not have to search in the log), and enable instant sharing and emailing of the PDF among others.

On a side note, we showed the raw LaTeX module to K-12 teachers during our last workshop series in Ely, Elko and Winnemucca. Some of them did not see any added value since they only deal with simple Word documents. But some were very excited about preparing and sharing assignments that contain more complicated math formulas. One chemistry teacher just fell in love with LaTeX. He did not want to stop typing chemical formulas and exploring further Internet LaTeX tutorials and resources. This was amazing. He said that typing chemical formulas in Word was a pain and that LaTeX will be very helpful for him.

More soon!

Pavel