Opinions/Guidance on LaTeX collaboration (methods & tools)
thomas.beuthe at cnl.ca
Thu Jul 2 01:39:48 CEST 2020
UNRESTRICTED / ILLIMITÉE
There are several possible methods that can be used to collaborate with other authors using LaTeX.
I've tried to list all of the methods (and tools) I am aware of below.
Please let me know if you use a method or a tool that is not listed.
Currently I am trying to answer the following question:
Is it possible to involve non-LaTeX users easily into a collaboration with experienced LaTeX users?
Here is the situation: I am trying to deal with non-homogeneous groups of users.
Some of them are very experienced LaTeX users and are typically the ones who produce the documents. Then there's the other group who have to be involved in the document review process, but have virtually no experience with LaTeX. Up to now the document producers have handed their documents for review to the reviewers as pdf files, and the reviewers have used various pdf readers (Adobe and Foxit typically) to mark up the documents for review. Unfortunately some reviewers object to this method since they are more accustomed to doing their reviews in MS Word documents using the "Track Changes" function, along with the "Comment" function. The comment function in MS Word is very similar to the "Note" or "Comment" function in pdf files so at least that angle is covered. But there is no exactly equivalent functionality to the Word "Track Changes". Of course the latexdiff package can produce LaTeX documents that look the same way a Word document would look if you use Track Changes, but this functionality is not available for the uninitiated reviewers. What the non-LaTeX reviewers would like to have is a simple tool to type in their suggested revisions and alter the LaTeX document directly, the same way they can do it in MS Word, and then send the document back to the authors.
Looking at the collaboration methods listed below, methods 1 (direct exchange) and 2 (file archiving and versioning system) will not provide the desired functionality. The third method may come a little closer, but it currently looks like the only one that can come close to the desired features is Overleaf. The others typically allow novice users to change the document and re-compile, but the track changes function is not there. The software keeps track of the change history, but it's more like a log of the changes, and does not appear in the finished product like Track Changes does. So from what I can see only Overleaf comes close.
Thoughts? Opinions? Have I missed some brilliant piece of software somewhere that might fill these shoes? Please let me know what you think!
1) Collaboration through direct exchange of files. Transferring LaTeX source files between authors, typically though a common area, or by emailing them to each other. For more than two authors, synchronization between authors can be problematic.
2) Collaboration by using a file archiving system accessible to all authors. For example, all authors use a git archive. This solves the synchronization problem and also handily keeps track of all committed changes.
3) Use of a collaboration tool. The cloud computing approach. Here all authors (remotely) log into a collaboration tool that automatically keeps track of everyone's changes, and also compiles the document. The ones listed here all provide full functionality through a browser. Examples of this type of tool include Overleaf, Authorea, Papeeria, and Cocalc. Can anyone think of any others? I would be interested!
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