Monochromatic

z3bra, the stripes apart

Love me some LaTeX

— 06 December, 2013

I am now in my last year of engineering school, and this imply that I will have to write a report for the last 3 years I spent in my company, as an apprentice. As a fellow Linux user, I don't want to use that fucking text processor. I love my vim setup, and I want to use it to write that report.

Introduction

So i came to LaTeX.
Latex (side note: I will not write "LaTeX" everytime in this post. I'm too lazy for that) is a kind of markup language that you can use to write scientific reports, or anything you want in fact.

It is intelligent in the sense that, you don't have to bother about the formatting on the document, latex will do that for you, and probably better than you. So you can just focus on what your are typing.

Seems interresting huh? So basically, what does it look like? Here's a simple document (download/view it HERE)

la.tex

\documentclass[9pt]{report}     % Start of document

\usepackage[utf8]{inputenc}     % Write text unsing UTF-8 encoding
\usepackage{graphicx}           % Use graphics for diagrams and such

\title{\LaTeX exemple}
\author{z3bra, the cool guy}
\date{\today}

\begin{document}

\maketitle
\tableofcontents
\listoftables
\listoffigures
\newpage

\chapter{Introduction}

\section{\LaTeX is fun}
Bla bla, latex is cool, and not only in bed.
See that explanatory figure to figure out why:

\begin{figure}[h!]
\centering
\includegraphics[width=\textwidth]{figure}
\caption{Figure caption}
\label{fig:figure}
\end{figure}

that might not be the good figure. Anyway...

\subsection{Love?}
Do you love me some \LaTeX?

\subsection{Llorem ipsum}
My money's in that office, right? If she start giving me some bullshit about it
ain't there, and we got to go someplace else and get it, I'm gonna shoot you in
the head then and there. Then I'm gonna shoot that bitch in the kneecaps, find
out where my goddamn money is. She gonna tell me too. Hey, look at me when I'm
talking to you, motherfucker. You listen: we go in there, and that nigga Winston
or anybody else is in there, you the first motherfucker to get shot. You
understand?

Now that there is the Tec-9, a crappy spray gun from South Miami. This gun is
advertised as the most popular gun in American crime. Do you believe that shit?
It actually says that in the little book that comes with it: the most popular
gun in American crime. Like they're actually proud of that shit.

Now that we know who you are, I know who I am. I'm not a mistake! It all makes
sense! In a comic, you know how you can tell who the arch-villain's going to be?
He's the exact opposite of the hero. And most times they're friends, like you
and me! I should've known way back when... You know why, David? Because of the
kids. They called me Mr Glass.

\appendix
\chapter{Appendix}

\section{Oh! A table!}
\begin{table}[h!]
\begin{tabular}{ | l | l | p{5cm} | }
% pretty that shit with !column -t -s \& -o \&
\hline
COLUMN & COLUMN 3 HEADER   & DESCRIPTION \\ \hline \hline
column & name of something & Description of that, eeh \\ \hline
column & name of something & Description of that, eeh \\ \hline
column & name of something & Description of that, eeh \\ \hline
column & name of something & Description of that, eeh \\ \hline
column & name of something & Description of that, eeh \\ \hline
column & name of something & Description of that, eeh \\ \hline \hline
FOOTER & NAME OF FOOTER    & WHO CARES WHAT'S HERE?   \\ \hline
\end{tabular}
\caption{Exemple of a table}
\label{tab:table}
\end{table}

\end{document}
% vim: ft=tex tw=80 cc=81 nowrap fdm=marker :

Wooow ! That's so many tags for such a simple thing!
In fact, once you get used to those tags, they are no more a problem. Also, The more text you have, the less you'll see the tags.

So, now you know HOW latex looks like. But you don't know HOW to write it, and what to do with that file.
Don't worry, that ain't difficult.

Writing latex

Latex files basically looks like any source file. First come the definitions, and then the source (document) itself.
The definitions are importants because that will tell latex HOW to create the document.

Latex tags are only a \ followed by a command. If that keyword needs an argument, that argument is given within {}. If that command needs an option, that option is given within []. Seems hard ? It is not. Take a look at this:

\command[option]{argument}
% comments are from % 'til EOL

Do you get it now ? Then, move on.

The simplest header would be:

\documentclass{report}

This will tell to latex that you want to write a report. Latex knows what a report is, so it will apply a set of rules (margin, font size, numerotation of chapters/section, and so on). So you will ONLY have to rewrite the rules you don't like, or that are missing. I'll not cover that in this post, because there are too many way to do so, and you are tall enough to find infos by yourself ;). Latex has a huge wiki, which is great. Use it!

Now, the body. Here to, I will give you the most basic body (eg, not covering figures, or table. The wiki is better than me to that). So, the most simple body is the following:

\begin{document}

\chapter{First chapter}

\section{\LaTeX is fun}
My money's in that office, right? If she start giving me some bullshit about it
ain't there, and we got to go someplace else and get it, I'm gonna shoot you in
the head then and there. Then I'm gonna shoot that bitch in the kneecaps, find
out where my goddamn money is. She gonna tell me too. Hey, look at me when I'm
talking to you, motherfucker. You listen: we go in there, and that nigga Winston
or anybody else is in there, you the first motherfucker to get shot. You
understand?

\section{Middle section}
Now that there is the Tec-9, a crappy spray gun from South Miami. This gun is
advertised as the most popular gun in American crime. Do you believe that shit?
It actually says that in the little book that comes with it: the most popular
gun in American crime. Like they're actually proud of that shit.


\chapter{Last chapter}

\section{Last section}
Now that we know who you are, I know who I am. I'm not a mistake! It all makes
sense! In a comic, you know how you can tell who the arch-villain's going to be?
He's the exact opposite of the hero. And most times they're friends, like you
and me! I should've known way back when... You know why, David? Because of the
kids. They called me Mr Glass.

\end{document}

You're still there ? Fine. Now, what should we do with that file ?

Compilation

Yeah, you read it right. You compile a Latex file, because it has to generate many other files in order to understand your whole document.
It will have to count yur chapters, sections, subsection, and so on. Then, create a output file which will be formatted, and correctly numeroted, linked to your figures, tables, etc..

So, how does it works ? Taht's easy, just call latex on your file to have it compiled.

latex file.tex

This command will create a dvi file. If you want another format, you you be able to use any other tool to convert it to the fomat you want:

dvips  file.dvi
dvipdf file.dvi

This will create two files: file.ps, and file.pdf (U DONT SAY?!), that you will be able to view in your prefered PDF viewer. (I suggest zathura, which is able to reload automatically your file if the timestamp have changed)

I here someone in the audience whispering: But, That's a pain !. You are not wrong ! That's why my favorite tool comes to the rescue: make. Yes ! Each time you hear or read the word compilation, you should instantly think Makefile. That's what I did, and it has saved me a lot of time!
I could leave it to you as an exercise, but I know that some of you are just lazy. So here is the makefile I came with:

# File name
BASE    = la

# How to view output files
VIEWER  = zathura

# Files used for diagrams (umlet file)
uxffiles=$(wildcard fig/*.uxf)

# Those files, with the correct extension for LaTeX
figures=$(patsubst %.uxf,%.eps,${uxffiles})

.SUFFIXES:
.SUFFIXES:.ps .pdf .dvi .tex .uxf .eps .toc .lof .lot

.PHONY: default all dvi ps pdf eps view view-ps view-pdf clean mrproper

# What should 'make' run by default ?
default: ps

# build everything
all: ps pdf view-ps

# The output files
dvi: ${BASE}.dvi
ps:  ${BASE}.ps
pdf: ${BASE}.pdf
eps: ${figures}

# Default view
view: view-ps

# --- DVI ---------------------------------------
${BASE}.dvi: ${figures} ${BASE}.toc ${BASE}.tex
    @echo "TEX  ${BASE}.tex"
    @latex ${BASE}.tex >/dev/null

# --- TOC ---------------------------------------
${BASE}.toc: ${figures} ${BASE}.tex
    @echo "TOC  ${BASE}.tex"
    @latex -draftmode ${BASE}.tex >/dev/null

# --- EPS ---------------------------------
.uxf.eps:
    @echo "EPS  $<"
    @umlet -action=convert -format=eps -filename=$< >/dev/null

# --- PS ----------------------------------------
.dvi.ps:
    @echo "PS   $<"
    @dvips -q $<

# --- PDF ---------------------------------------
.dvi.pdf:
    @echo "PDF  $<"
    @dvipdf -q $<

# --- OTHER -------------------------------------
view-%: ${BASE}.%
    ${VIEWER} $<

clean:
    rm -f *.aux
    rm -f *.log
    rm -f *.dvi
    rm -f *.lof
    rm -f *.lot
    rm -f *.toc

mrproper: clean
    rm -f fig/*.eps
    rm -f *.pdf
    rm -f *.ps

Easy to use!

make [dvi|ps|pdf|eps]   # build either the dvi/ps/pdf files, or the eps files
make [view-ps|view-pdf] # calls ${VIEWER} on either the ps or pdf file

Maybe... To get the "eps" part, see the tips section

Enjoy !

There you go, you are now ready to write your own latex documents, and browser the web to find help about what is not explained in this post (there is A LOT things about latex..)

Tips

Before leaving you, here are just a few tips, from my experience with latex (particularly images).