Monday, May 21, 2012

TeXlipse is again my favorite LaTeX environment

I have always enjoyed TeXlipse for writing LaTeX. It has some snazzy features like context menus of your label and cite tags and automatic insertion of end tags and close braces. It even manages the build for you when you save a source file.

I used it for a long time, but finally its one annoying problem finally took over; its hard to start a new project. Not really hard, but harder than your typical LaTeX editor. The problem is that Eclipse is a generic developer environment and many languages need so much boilerplate that it kinda assumes that you LaTeX project will need it too. This means you have workspaces and configuration and everything, every time you start a new little project.

So I started getting lazy; I was using a text editor and the brilliant LaTeXmk to manage the build (much like TeXlipse did for me). It was just that much easier to create a new text file and start editing. Of course the difference between one click and five clicks to start a new document is a bad reason to choose an editor.

I am working on my Thesis now and finally was getting tired of the small potatoes environment. So I went to install TeXlipse on my new box and to my delight I found that they had added a sub-project called Pdf4Eclipse. This finally brings that last piece of the puzzle that many LaTeX environments have been missing, an inline pdf previewer with full forward/reverse search capability. Its great, one more window in the environment and now I can edit and preview easily, moving back and forth with a few simple clicks.

Once I had gotten this far I decided to add the pièce de résistance, git integration! The last time I tried to version control within eclipse I was back when I was using Bazaar. Now I have nothing against Bazaar in concept, but it never felt natural to me, I didn't grok the workflow. Git has been a revelation to me and possibly better, GitHub has made hosting my development so easy. So I installed the EGit/JGit plugins in my shiny new TeXlipse enabled eclipse editor and ... wow!

I cannot describe how easy this rig is now. The best development features now paired with inline PDF preview AND GitHub integration. Simply excellent! Congrats to all the devs on all these projects, you have won me back in a big way. Cheers!