[Halld-offline] ShareLaTeX for collaborative LaTeX editing

Michael Staib mstaib at andrew.cmu.edu
Thu Jan 21 12:01:09 EST 2016

Hi All,

As we begin to think about publications for each of the detector subsystems, one of the common questions is what to use for collaborative paper writing. It seems the agreed upon solution up until now has been to have everything sitting on the SVN repository. This has the benefit of some sort of version control, but has suffers from the problem of possible conflicts between users that may be difficult to resolve.

As an alternative, there are several modern tools for real-time collaborative LaTeX editing. Two of the main tools developed have been ShareLaTeX (www.sharelatex.com <http://www.sharelatex.com/>) and Overleaf (www.overleaf.com <http://www.overleaf.com/>). To get a flavor for how these two tools work, I’d suggest checking out their websites. Obviously someone has to make money here, so both sites offer paid services.

Thankfully, ShareLaTeX has open-sourced a good portion of their stack in their “community edition” (https://github.com/sharelatex/sharelatex <https://github.com/sharelatex/sharelatex>). As a test, I have set up the community edition software at CMU and have added the current version of the CDC NIM paper. If you would like to check out the interface, please let me know and I can register an account for you. I have already added accounts for many of the authors on the CDC paper. The web server is running at egbert.phys.cmu.edu <http://egbert.phys.cmu.edu/> 

The software shows edits to the document in real time with unlimited collaborators, and keeps a versioned history of the changes as well. I am running this on CentOS 6.7 kernel 2.6.32 using Docker so it doesn’t require a super modern OS. Backups can be preformed of the data and the underlying Redis and MongoDB databases, or alternatively full images of the docker files can be saved keeping a full backup of the operating state of the machine.

I’d suggest we transition to some kind of tool like this, but would like to hear some feedback from other people within the collaboration.


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