For the last couple of months I’ve been writing my engineering thesis related to satellite design. I’ve always wanted to write it in LaTeX as most of my previous smaller documents, lab reports and even a CV were written with use of LaTeX. But I have never written anything larger than 30-40 pages at once, so usually it was possible to handle everything with one .tex file, folder with media and another simple .bib file.
Here’s what I came up after few trials and errors and substantial amount of time.
We can argue whether the editor is the most important part of this setup, but – frankly speaking – this is the part I spent the most time on. I tried variety of editors like TeXnicCenter (my first editor), Texmaker, TeXstudio, Overleaf, Sublime, and LyX. There have been also some smaller editors mostly for markup language, but they didn’t suit me so well and had performance problems with large number of equations. There’s a nice list on StackExchange covering most of the IDEs available on the market.
Finally, I settled down with TeXstudio and LyX. The first one is an advanced editor allowing for plenty of customization, prepared for multi-file documents and with some handy import features. Not as pretty as Sublime for example, but really powerful. For instance it allows to define custom syntax highlighting, autocompletion of specific packages, build commands. It recognizes custom \newcommands and nicely handles input files. The one thing I would like to see is ability to set a keyboard shortcut to dynamically change the text line wrap settings (this is useful when working with wide tables like the one below).
The other editor I use is LyX, which is much more user-friendly (almost WSYIWYG) document processor. However, under the basic layout it is also pretty powerful in terms of document control. In contrary to TeXstudio where most of the documents properties must be set in plain LaTeX style, here we can setup hundreds of settings just by clicking the options. But the best thing about the LyX is its ability to automate equations copying from Wikipedia. It works like a charm.
I use LyX for less demanding documents, where I need to write something quickly without worrying for required packages and their compatibility.
In the next episode more on the preamble of the documents I use.