TeXlipse as a lightweight portable TeX editor

OK, here a concrete application of yesterday’s post: how to use Eclipse as a lightweight (yes, I mean it) $\LaTeX$ editor.

Custom TeXlipse splash screen
My custom splash screen, based on danbrown’s work

Go on reading for the whys and hows I made this choice.

How I got to this

When I started writing $\LaTeX$, I first used Texmaker. However, I noticed that the compilation process awfully slows down after some compilations. Maybe it comes from the size of my project (the final generated PDF is now 150-pages long), or from the fact that I include a lot of subfiles in my master.

Anyway, I quickly grew tired of this and searched for other solutions. What’s the best $\LaTeX$ editor, according to Google, forums, … Somebody talked about TeXlipse.

As a Java developer, I am familiar with Eclipse. It would have been a shame not to try it.


So, what about TeXlipse? First, what does it look like? Here, a screen cap from my own workspace, optimized to display code on one side and generated PDF file on the other.

So, what about the functionalities? Syntax highlighting, PDF generation on each save, project management, … Alt gr + F also finds the result for your code snippet in the generated PDF.

Assistants are much less powerful than those of Texmaker, but the tools it provides are more than sufficient for those who know their way around $\TeX$.

If you want to check the tools it provides or find a more appropriate editor, you should go and check Wikipedia’s comparison of $\TeX$ editors.


Now, another great aspect is portability: you can run this on any other computer with the proper JVM and $\TeX$-compilation library.

As a Windows user, I installed Java and MiKTeX on my computers, but the latter exists in a portable version.

As for the TeXlipse editor, I synchronize it via Dropbox. Both editor and workspace. Thus, I leave it on a computer and get back to where I left on the other one.

Having it on the cloud, I can even edit on mobile phone through applications such as Nebulous.

How to get it

Simple enough. First, get a clean Eclipse.

For those familiar with Eclipse, you can add the following update site and then just download the plugin: http://texlipse.sourceforge.net

For others, just follow TeXlipse’s installation guide (why would I rewrite it? Feels like reinventing the wheel…).

Don’t forget to select the Pdf4Eclipse plugin when installing, it is great to have real time view of your generated PDF.

OK, you’re good to go! Just don’t forget to install $\TeX$ or any other compilation library you will need.

Encoding’s always the problem…

Just one last warning though: this editor is based on Eclipse. It certainly has advantages for those used to that IDE, but Eclipse is however not flawless. So just don’t forget, when you create your project to specify encoding.

Thus, let us imagine you want to use UTF-8. Of course, your $\LaTeX$ preamble will specify it:

However, it will not be any use if the files are written in the default OS encoding (especially when you work on Windows). To settle that, right-click on your project and select Properties.

In Resources, select UTF-8 as the file encoding, as below.

Enjoy your new $\TeX$ IDE!

Published by

Cyrille Chopelet

Programming addict, UX philosopher, casual gamer, sci-fi enthusiast, hi-tech dilettante, ... Some people even call me a geek.

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"Wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure." − Rowena Ravenclaw

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