[OS X TeX] Re: Some thoughts about editors

François Chaplais francois.chaplais at ensmp.fr
Mon Sep 24 16:28:53 EDT 2007

Le 24 sept. 07, à 19:23, Alain Schremmer a écrit :

> On Sep 23, 2007, at 8:11 AM, John Burt wrote:
>> Alphatk has folding also, and good TeX syntax coloring, and many 
>> other features.
> Yes, but can it do my espresso?
> A bit more seriously: Is there somewhere a detailed comparison of 
> Alpha with TeXShop?
> In particular, I would like to know:
> 	1. How easy it is to install and configure compared with TeXShop via 
> i-Installer,

It is a standard Mac application, no i-installer is required. Go to
download the .dmg file that fits your system, open it to mount the 
image file, and drag the Alpha folder to the location of your choice. 
That's it.

> 	2. How the previewing compares with that of TeXShop,

Alpha is a plain text editor with many supported modes. It does not 
directly typesets document. It does not preview it. If invokes 
typesetting in the following way:
If you use Tiger, just save your file, hit command(apple)-T and TeXShop 
wil typeset the latest saved file, even if the displayed source  is not 
up to date.
If you use Panther, save your .tex file, switch to TeXShop, and hit 
command-T (or click "Typeset" button) and the latest saved version of 
your TeX source will be typeset.
If you prefer, you can use OzTeX or Textures (among others) to do the 
typesetting (all of this is done through AppleEvents).
> 	3. How the synchronization works compares with that of TeXShop.
I do not use synchronization, so I cannot tell.
On the right of the Alpha text window, there is a popup menu (the one 
with braces) which automatically lists bookmarks for all of your 
sections, subsections, etc.... so I do not often get lost in the source 
You can also define bookmarks of your own in the text.
> I am sure Alpha can do the above very well but it is not dedicated to 
> LaTeX as TeXShop is and, while folding would be invaluable to me—the 
> only reason I would consider switching, I lack the time to fiddle with 
> things I don't understand (e.g. the terminal) in order to find out how 
> Alpha does it.

There is no use for the terminal.
The only fiddling that I did was basically redefine the keyboard 
You can modify the keyboard shortcuts by editing the TeX prefs file 
(menu "Config>TeX Mode Prefs>Edit Prefs File").
You can also define (or overload) your TeX macros in this prefs file.
To get the keyboard shortcuts for the active mode, use the menu (for 
TeX here): "Config>TeX Mode Prefs>List Bindings".

If you want an example of prefs file, I can send you my own.

The macros are written in Tcl and they can be quite powerful (i.e. they 
keep your mind focused on the content and not on TeX syntax).

One feature I like is the following: if you invoke the macro for 
"fraction", what you get is
\frac{|}{•}•    with the insertion point inside the first pair of 
You type the numerator (dx here), hit the tab key and the insertion 
point is now at the next bullet character:
typing "dt" and hitting tab inserts dt between the braces and brings 
you to the next "tab stop", i.e. bullet character, and you get
\frac{dx}{dt}| with the insertion point outside the braces.
Of course this is recursive, i.e. it handles nested environments.
Automatic indentation is supported.
Another feature is filesets: if your source includes several files 
chapter in a book, for instance), you can define a fileset to do, for 
instance, a search and replace on all elements of the filesets. This is 
very handy if you want to change the label of an equation and 
consequently all the \ref{}. Regular expressions are supported. This 
also applies to projects in other languages.
Well, I will stop here.
Best regards,

Francois Chaplais
35 rue Saint-Honore
77305 Fontainebleau Cedex

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