LaTeX forum ⇒ Decision GuidanceAuctex vs "the rest"

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Auctex vs "the rest"

Postby porky_pig_jr » Fri Feb 12, 2010 12:23 am

Due to some circumstances I have to run miktex and emacs/auctex (which I always used as an editor) from flash, and emacs is a bit sluggish. I've spent some time looking at some other editors. After quickly going through few of them (all for Windows XP) I spent some time looking closer at Led and WinEdt. Then spent several days working with WinEdt which had some really nice features. And ended up going back to emacs/auctex after all.

Why? Well, speaking of Led first, I found it rather annoying in a sense that it tries to figure out what you want to type. Blah ... just leave me alone, would you? I have defined "epsi" for "varepsilon". Every time I type "epsi", Led finishes it up as "epsilon" for me. Thanks but no thanks.

Speaking of WinEdt, it had some other problem which is commonly called "Featurism" or "Feature creep". Just take a look at the option you're offered for 'Execution mode'. Rather confusing choice of how to run your executables (e.g., latex). Gee whiz. Just keep it on a background and let me know if something went wrong. That's what emacs/auctex does by default. Now try to figure out how to configure it in WinEdt. Gook luck with all those options. I looked at both 5.5 and 5.6 and in 5.6 it gets even worse. While trying to figure out the best setup, I ended up with configuration which created a runaway process which locked the output file ... Oh well.

So back to feature creep. What are two basic things I want from the editor? First, a good interface with executables. As I've said, just let me know if something went wrong, display the error message, relate to the source, provide some hints, otherwise just let me know it's finished. Second - and that's big one for me is syntax highliting, or, more generally, context-sensitive editing. From my experience, with a good context-sensitive editing you can catch most of your errors before you run latex (and you certainly do want to catch as much as you can, since latex compiler is, well, rather brain-dead as far as dealing with errors). So regarding syntax highlighting in WinEdt, looks like most of the necessary ingredients are there, but you're expected to put some extra work. Why, for instance, align and align* are recognized as math modes, but not gather/gather* and multiline/multiline*. Auctex, on the other hand, recognizes all AMS extensions. And so forth and so forth. That's basic things I would expect and I just don't see it there. And I don't think the WinEdt user interface to syntax highlighting is that intuitive. Surprisingly I find it less intuitive than emacs/auctex interface (which I always thought was sub par).

All right, so neither interfaces with executables, nor context-sensitive editing is that great in WinEdt. Instead they give you tons of features you can leave without. That's exactly what Featurism is all about. Oh well ...

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Postby magicmoose » Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:46 am

Have you tried TeXnicCenter?

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Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2007 8:13 pm

Postby benibela » Mon Feb 15, 2010 10:04 pm

Or TexMakerX?

I created that fork exactly because all other editors I tested failed at basic things.

It automatically detect the miktex paths and understand \newcommand-tags, so these two issues will no problem. However, it doesn't highlight gather/multiline, because I never heard about them (since I mostly write text without formulas). But it is customizable in the SVN version...

But I wonder how you can complain yourself about featurism while prefering an editor which comes with tetris and a psychotherapist...

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