[Mac OS X TeX] Editors - some questions

Peter Erwin erwin at ll.iac.es
Thu Feb 21 17:03:42 EST 2002

>many of you says Alpha is so good for LaTeX editing but I have to admit that
>I don't see what makes Alpha so much better than BBEdit.
>The same goes for Peppar etc.
>So, could someone explain to me what I "missing" when I use BBEdit? (perhaps
>there is something I didn't know I needed 8-)

Well, I'll give this a try.  I've never used the full version of 
BBEdit (part of the
reason I went with Alpha a while back was the cost difference), and it's been
  a long time since I've used the Lite version.  So I'll just mention 
some of the
things I find useful about Alpha; maybe you'll notice something you *are*
missing (or maybe you'll decide you aren't missing anything!).  The things
I *know* Pepper has also are indicated by a [P] after each item; if it's not
there, it means I don't know...

    [] Command-key typesetting (e.g., Cmd-T sends the file for the front
window to your TeX application for processing).  Works with OzTeX,
CMacTeX, Textures, and a couple of others.  If I knew Tcl and had several
days to spare, I might be able to hack the Tcl code for this to add things
like command-line TeX, TeXShop, etc.

    [] Emulation of just about all the standard Emacs key-commands (I used
emacs on our Sun workstations, so I'm often going back and forth between
Alpha on my PowerBook and Emacs on the Sun).  [P -- but I think Alpha
has more; for example, Alpha will map Ctrl-X Ctrl-S to "Save File", but
Pepper doesn't]

    [] Pop-up menu of sections, sub-sections, etc.  I have a couple of documents
with literally dozens of subsections (one per galaxy I'm studying), 
and it *very*
convenient to move around that way.  [P]

    [] File sets (adds menu items for use-selected directories, with 
filters to specify
which types of files --- e.g., *.tex, *.c, etc. --- are listed, for 
quick opening of files)

    [] You can iconify windows (they turn into little floating, movable labels).
Very useful when you have fifteen or twenty opened files...

    [] Sophisticated search and replace (with regular expression 
syntax, if you want) [P]

    [] Rectangular selections (for isolating columns, etc.)

    [] Go to line x function (for when TeX says, "error on line 437"...) [P]

    [] Syntax coloring, of course!  (But they all do that...)

    [] Numerous keyboard shortcuts for instantiating TeX/LaTeX commands
and environments (it's nice to be able to select some text, hit Crl-Opt-I,
and have it all wrapped neatly in \textit{}).  There are a *lot* of these; I
normally only use a few.  [P]

    [] Partial auto-completion of various TeX macros (useful for me because
I do a fair amount of math-mode stuff).  E.g., type _ and Alpha will
automatically add {} and put the cursor inside the brackets.

    [] Smart LaTeX quotation marks (type " and it automatically becomes ``
for opening or '' for closing, and it's usually pretty good at guessing which
are needed; type DELETE to turn it into genuine ")

    [] Easy Mac/Unix/DOS end-of-line conversion (it's a pop-up menu which
always shows you what the current state of the file is). [P]

    [] Single-keystroke "fill paragraph" operation (like Esc-q in Emacs) *and*
automatic line-wrapping .  I move enough text back and forth
between Unix and Mac that I need all my paragraphs hard-wrapped.  I haven't
figured out how to do this in Pepper -- or at least, it doesn't work the way
I think it ought to.  For me, this is kind of a show-stopper preventing me
>from using Pepper more.  That and the fact that Alpha in Classic still seems
much zippier than Pepper in MacOS X.

    [] Finally, I find it very useful for editing C, C++, and Python, 
as well as the
occasional HTML, shell script, and plain text files.  It's very 
useful to have one
tool for all that, which is why I'm not keen on learning a new editing
environment just for LaTeX.  The version I'm using (7.5b) has something like
49 separate modes.  (Of course, much the same reasoning applies to BBEdit,
Pepper, and Emacs!)

Peter Erwin                   Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias
erwin at ll.iac.es               C/ Via Lactea s/n
tel. +34 922 605 244          38200 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain

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