[OS X TeX] Flashmode - a review

Claus Gerhardt gerhardt at math.uni-heidelberg.de
Wed Apr 20 20:03:45 EDT 2005

The last four month I have been texing a lot always using Flashmode and 
comparing its variants till I settled for my favourite. I would like to 
give an overview of my experiences trying to be as objective as 

Since in my view Flashmode has no inherent value but is simple a tool 
for enhancing comfort and productivity, judging its virtues requires to 
take its interaction with other tools into account most notably with 
pdfsync and with a pdf viewer.

Given these objectives it first seemed that the iTeXMac/iTeXMac version 
was the best. Synchronization in iTeXMac is simply the best and its 
built in pdf viewer allows a much better navigation than TeXniscope - 
T. strength is its scriptability, or more precisely, Massimilianos 
generosity to let us know the necessary commands. Its great 
disadvantage are the poor navigation capabilities like scrolling, fast 
browsing with the sliding knob, etc. (Preview is excellent in this 

Unfortunately, the pdf viewer and the editor do not work independently 
from each other in iTM, and if the document has more then 20 pages 
using the editor will be painful when Flashmode is active.

Thus I had to give up iTM/iTM and used BBEdit/TeXnsicope. Pdf to source 
synchronization works fine, as good as in iTM; the source to pdf 
synchronization is not as excellent but sufficient with the help of my 
scrypt sync which can be invoked via a shortcut key. Editor and viewer 
are working independently by the very set-up and Flashmode worked fast 
and smoothly. Even chapters with 70+ pages were acceptable in speed. 
Editing in conjunction with pdfsync was a charm, and having multiple 
copies of Flashmode running, at one point all seven copies were active, 
one for each chapter, was fine - it wasn't noticeable at all.

I tried the TeXShop/TeXniscope version only briefly. Its main shortfall 
is, that in contrast to BBEdit, the sync script for source --> pdf 
doesn't work properly, because TeXShop doesn't let me know the current 
line number of the cursor's position.

Thus, BBEdit/T. has become my favourite version and it seems that two 
independent engines for viewer and editor are a necessity when using 
Flashmode, which doesn't mean that viewer and editor have to belong to 
different applications, but if they are part of one application then 
they must be driven by independent engines.


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