St. Valentin, Austria – Austrian indie developer, Karl Traunmueller today released Compositor 1.0, a new Mac app that brings WYSIWYG features to the LaTeX document preparation system widely used in academia for preparation of scientific and technical publications.
Based on LaTeX, a document preparation system written by Leslie Lamport in the 1980s as a collection of macros for the TeX typesetting program developed by Stanford Professor Donald Knuth in the late 1970s, Compositor builds on a well-established platform of the highest quality typesetting that handles anything from letters to full-size books.
Although LaTeX has seen widespread adoption over the last three decades, the way it works has changed little. Because of the limitations of late 1970s computer systems, the underlying TeX typesetting system was designed for batch processing, with limited interactivity via a command-line interface. It has therefore been stuck in an antiquated edit-compile-review workflow, in which a document has to be fully processed (“compiled”) by the system before the user can review the effects of changes. That results in a delay between typing the material in, and seeing the typeset result.
In Compositor the document is typeset with every keystroke the user makes, and the results are displayed immediately. Whereas in a traditional LaTeX workflow users could spend significant time waiting for compilation to complete, Compositor’s real-time typesetting eliminates that turnaround time. This amounts to significant time saving, particularly as LaTeX compilation takes progressively longer as documents grow.
A second improvement over traditional LaTeX use is Compositor’s unified WYSIWYG interface. In standard LaTeX workflows, the user edits the “source code” of a LaTeX document using a text editor, compiles it, and reviews the result in a separate PDF viewer application. With Compositor, editing and viewing are fully integrated – the user types directly into the viewer. Coupled with its real-time typesetting, Compositor delivers the same convenience and productivity of any modern word processor.
Lastly, Compositor brings a vastly improved installation experience over traditional LaTeX distributions, which usually involve downloading several hundred megabytes, and require manual post-installation maintenance when adding extension packages, for example.
Together, these transform LaTeX into a thoroughly modern platform for creating beautifully typeset documents of all kinds and lengths. Compositor appeals to everyone already working with LaTeX, and should attract many Mac users who care about the way their documents look, even if they have no previous exposure to LaTeX. It sets a new standard for the preparation of scientific and technical publications.
* Zero-turnaround, real-time typesetting
* Modern WYSIWYG interface
* Simple drag & drop installation; no additional software required
* Automatic, on-demand extension package installation
* No proprietary document format, compatible with regular plain text .tex files
* Based on texlive, a comprehensive standard LaTeX distribution
Karl Traunmueller, the developer, says: “With Compositor, I address the shortcomings in LaTeX: this app lowers the entry barrier to getting up and running in the first place – a step that’s more complicated than it should be. The app is a small (~30MB) download and installs like any modern Mac app by simply dragging it to the Applications folder. That’s all there is to it – you’re all set for working with LaTeX documents. Second, it provides a major boost in productivity by eliminating edit-compile-review turnaround times. Users shouldn’t have to wait to see their work. Lastly, it provides the user experience of a modern app that is fully integrated and provides all the facilities you expect from a word processor.”
Compositor has been in development for nearly three years, mainly during evenings and weekends when working full-time as a freelance iOS & macOS developer; Karl Traunmueller points out that version 1.0 is in some respects a starting point, and is undergoing further enhancement in the coming months. The product’s web site details its current limitations and links to a roadmap of planned improvements and features. This build-up of features is reflected in an early-adopter pricing strategy: all purchases include lifetime updates, but the current entry price of $19 will rise to $29 midway through the year, and to $39 (USD) by end of the year.
* macOS 10.11 or newer
Pricing and Availability:
A fully-functional 60-day free trial is available for download from the product’s website. Licenses can be purchased from the product’s online store at an early-adopter price of $19 (USD). The purchase includes all future updates, including major version updates. There are currently no plans to support Windows or Linux platforms. For more information, please contact Karl Traunmueller.
Karl Traunmueller is an independent iOS & Mac developer from Austria. After graduating from Johannes Kepler University, Linz, Austria, with an MSc in Computer Science in 1998, Karl has worked as a software engineer in a variety of fields ranging from embedded systems to enterprise applications. Before writing Compositor, Karl was the first developer to bring the IPython scientific computing environment to the iPad. All Material and Software (C) 2018 Karl Traunmueller / All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, macOS, iPhone, iPod and iPad are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. Other trademarks and registered trademarks may be the property of their respective owners.
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