Today, we are going to learn about five different solutions for LaTeX editing on Linux (though many of the solutions below are actually cross-platform). What are the solutions available to us in this fine year of 2021? Let’s take a look:
1. LaTeX Workshop plugin for Visual Studio Code
For a long time, I used Vim with the VIM-LaTeX plugin (more on that below). But recently, I’ve switched to Visual Studio Code with James Yu’s LaTeX Workshop plugin. This plugin has many outstanding features like snippets, custom compilation, SyncTeX and reverse search, and PDF viewing. You also get all the power of Visual Studio Code’s excellent text manipulation facilities.
One downside is configuring a lot of it involves editing a configuration file. Also, Visual Studio Code doesn’t come with a spellchecker! I tried installing a few spellchecking plugins and none of them worked really well. And while Visual Studio Code is pretty, it is not lightweight and frequently makes my fans spin up.
Still, I like it.
2. Vim with VIM-LaTeX
The next option is the Vim editor with VIM-LaTeX. This is quite a powerful option with snippets. It has some really cool features like out of the box greek letter expansion, so typing a backtick+a gives you alpha, etc. It also must be configured using a text file but is pretty usable out of the box.
The only downside to this, aside from having to use the obscure Vim of course, is that Vim scrolls by line in file. But, in LaTeX files, paragraphs are lines in a text file. So if you’re scrolling through your file to read it over, it will scroll by paragraphs! It makes the scrolling really choppy. This isn’t a criticism of the plugin; rather, it is a feature of Vim. This annoying aspect of Vim is what made me switch to Visual Studio Code and LaTeX Workshop.
Texmaker is an all-in-one cross-platform solution. Meaning, you don’t need to download and editor and then install a bunch of random plugins hoping they work. It also has a ton of features that Visual Studio Code and Vim with their respective plugins lack. It has a toolbar of commonly used LaTeX symbols and a bunch of built-in document creation wizards (for Beamer presentations, letters, etc.). Basically, Texmaker helps you a lot with writing LaTeX by helping you with LaTeX commands visually. You can just click on symbols and discover ones you never knew existed.
For beginners in LaTeX, Texmaker is far more user-friendly than both Visual Studio Code and Vim. (Well, Vim is never user-friendly. It eats kittens.)
In a similar vein, you might also like to check out TeXstudio a significant fork of Texmaker.
The Gummi editor is a very basic LaTeX editor without many features. It just has syntax highlighting and some document compilation features. I think it is promising, and I like the fact that it is uncluttered and easy to get started, but larger projects might benefit from a more fully-featured editor.
I hesitated to include LyX. It is not just an editor but a complete document preparation system and it is WYSIWYG. So you type your document directly instead of editing LaTeX code. Therefore, it is a heresy to the one true sect of TeX. Just joking.
Actually, it is a little confusing if you’re used to using LaTeX code directly, but it might be beneficial to some, and some people actually really like it. So give it a try, if you dare.
If you want something that will help you with symbols and has most of the features you need built in, go with Texmaker or TeXstudio. Otherwise, go with LaTeX Workshop on Visual Studio Code.