As a PhD student, I often use [R] for writing assignments, quizzes, reports and even for my thesis. has a unique way to convert any piece of messy information into an elegant text. Perhaps, it is the most used typesetting program in academia. You know how it is difficult to continue your work outside, on top of that may not available in the computer you are using. If you are thinking that you are out of luck in such a case, you will be surprised. Today, I would like to share a really useful tool for creating / editing documents.
Writelatex (http://writelatex.com) is an awesome tool that you can create documents in format. So you can use equations, images, headers, etc. Practically you can do whatever you are capable with . I will show you some examples first, and then I will explain why it is a must-have for professors especially working on quantitative sciences.
First step to Online Editor
It’s really simple to use. Click here to open a new document. You will see that page is divided into two sections, as common in editors. If you are familiar to , rest is familiar. You can start now. Try to write something in the editor. You will see that document will be updated momentarily. Actually the default document is self-explanatory. If you need additional files (such as images or bibliography) you can upload them from the “files” menu above the editor. After you finish your work, you can download the PDF or the whole stuff in a ZIP file via “export”. If you create an account, you can save your work online.
I want to note that, you can also use “Beamer” template for your presentations.
It’s easy to collaborate in writelatex. All you need is sharing the URL of the document. You can reach the document even if you don’t have an account. To save what you did on document, however, you’ll need signing up.
A Sample Document (Travelling Salesman Problem)
Ok folks, here what I tried: I wrote a sample document about travelling salesman problem formulation in a document. You can reach it via this link. I also added a sample GAMS code for it, which is available in GAMS Model Library.
Why and How to Use
As a teaching assistant I often grade homework. If professors make this tool available in their online course sites (a link to writelatex.com with a pre-defined template) it would be great for all of us. They can make great-looking homework and I can grade more easily. It is also good for standardization of such submissions, because most of the time everyone sends their assignment in different formats (such as .doc, .pdf, .xls, …)
I have some ideas to improve writelatex:
- In some softwares, you can right click to text which takes you to corresponding place in Pdf and vice versa. It is pretty useful if the document is too long. This can be added.
- File upload seems to accept only 1 document at a time, which takes some time. A batch upload could be a great idea.
- Uploading bibliography is great but it would be better if we can edit that file too. I mean, if we can edit .bib files (or other kind of references) by using the same interface, it would be really useful.
- This is another step for using bibliography. I like if there is a menu, which shows articles in my bibliography and a reference is inserted to my document when I click.
- Password protection of files could be another great feature.
- Some pre-defined formats can be shown in template libraries. It would be more appealing for those who don’t know and could be a great starting point. Templates for assignments / reports / projects / quizzes / thesis may be put to writelatex with proper thumbnails. Until then, you can use templates of HowtoTex.com by copying into your document.
At last but not at least, I would like to thank to WriteLatex.com team for making this awesome tool to be available for all of us.
And here is a bonus link for Valentine’s Day!