TeXmaker: A LaTeX Editor for GNOME based Desktops.

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TeXmaker is a free software IDE for LaTeX typesetting in Gnome desktops. Its interface is simple yet powerful, more or less similar to Kile, making it easier for you to develop documents and presentations in vogue.

What is LaTeX?

LaTeX (pronounced as La-Tek) is a document markup language for the TeX typesetting system, originally developed by Leslie Lamport in the early 1980s. The extensive features of the typsetting system, like those of programmable desktop publishing features including the creation of foot-notes, automation of numbering, formatting, referencing, creation of lists of tables and figures, bibliography etc.(page/chapter/section/subsection), LaTeX is mainly used by the academia – as a primary or secondary format – because of the high quality of the final document. Hence without getting over concerned about the typography, the writer can completely focus on the content, especially when they are working with very large and highly structured documents like books. This does not mean that LaTeX is of no use to people from non-scientific background. They can use this to write articles, draft letters, create presentations – known as a beamer in LaTeX terminology. A resume/CV developed using LaTeX will have its own value. The current stable version of LaTeX is LaTeX2e, and the next version LaTeX3 is still in the developmental stage with many improvements and features.


OK.  So what is TeX?

As mentioned in the previous section, TeX is a typesetting system, first developed by Donald Knuth in the early 1980s. There were two main goals when TeX typesetting system; one was that it should enable anyone to easily publish a book of superior quality, with reasonable amount of work, and the second one was that the system should be universal. Mathematical formulae – how ever complex it might be, as encountered by any science/mathematics/engineering graduate student, can be easily typeset with the help of TeX, and for many reasons like these, it is known as one of the most advanced and powerful digital typographical systems in the world. The latest version of TeX is 3.1415926 (pi) and was lastly updated in March 2008.

Why not Libreoffice or any WYSIWYG document editors?

The superior quality which all of us look for may be the reason why people prefer LaTeX over Libreoffice or any other WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) application for document editing. There is a detailed write-up, in Terminally Incoherent, about this comparison between a traditional document editor and a professional typesetting scripting language like LaTeX. Please note that, the issue lies with any conventional WYSIWYG document editor and not just Openoffice.org or Libreoffice. The first and foremost issue with a WYSIWIG editor is that, even though they use a markup language interally – like LaTeX – they never show it to the user, or in another words, the user will not be able to edit the markup code, written by 'intelligent' WYSIWYG editors.

How do you make LaTeX files?

A simple text editor like emacs, vi or gedit will do the job. LaTeX is simply the name of the scripting language, and a LaTeX file essentially contains the formatting codes and the content. The text file will have the extension '.tex', and it will then be compiled to get the desired output (like pdf, dvi, ps or rtf). The compilation of LaTeX files can be done either manually from the terminal, or it can also be done using a frontend software specifically made for desktop publishing using LaTeX. Many IDEs are available for creating, manipulating and compiling LaTeX files in almost all operating systems.

LaTeX is not a tough language to learn. If you have an experience with a markup language like HTML, one may not need more than a day to get accustomed with LaTeX. Once you are acquainted with LaTeX markup language, learning the interface will be an easy cake-walk. Of course, all these are very subjective and varies from person to person.

What is TeXmaker?

TeXmaker is an IDE for LaTeX made in Qt, is a free software (which means it is licensed with GPL) available in GNU/Linux as well as Windows. The interface of TeXmaker is almost similar to Kile – a KDE based LaTeX editor, which is considered to be the best one of its kind in GNU/Linux platform – the only drawback being it is meant only for KDE system. Even though you can install Kile in Ubuntu or any Gnome desktop, together with it will come all the dependency files. The advantage of TeXmaker over Kile is that it is just an application written in Qt, and it is also a cross-platform software.


Why TeXmaker?

Compared to other LaTeX editing tools available in Gnome desktop, TeXmaker is feature rich. The GUI of Texmaker consists of a text editor to the right where you edit the code, towards the left is a structure tree where you can see the chapter/section/label wise structure of the document you are editing, and there is a message area below the text editor window where the error messages (not limited to) encountered while compiling the documents are displayed. Apart from these, there are different toolbars and menu from where you can select different tasks. Following are some of the features of TeXmaker:

  1. About 370 mathematical symbols can be inserted into the document with just one click.
  2. TeXmaker is integrated with an inline spell-checker which make use of the Libreoffice dictionary files.
  3. There is an inbuilt PDF viewer, which gives an instant preview of the output. You can also force the software to use the system default PDF reader.
  4. Different wizards are included to generate the LaTeX code for letters and articles in the available standards.
  5. Structure tree allows the user to navigate through the different sections of the article very easily.
  6. Error message viewer helps the user to reach out to the exact line in the code which produces the error during compilation.
  7. An exhaustive documentation of LaTeX code is available through the help menu.
  8. Code completion and folding are available.
  9. Unicode support.

How can I install Texmaker?

Just like any software installations in Ubuntu, a 'sudo apt-get install texmaker' from a terminal will install Texmaker on your system. You can also download the compiled binaries (both 64 bit and 32 bit are available) or build it from the source available at their website., if the latest version is not available in your repository.

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Pratheesh_Prakash's picture

Free software evangelist. Revolutionary. Bio-diesel Researcher. Tweets at http://twitter.com/pratheesh.