What is Tex Studio & Is It Worth My Time?
Writing LaTeX isn’t always easy. Quite often, it can be frustrating, and users can spend a serious amount of time creating documents in what can feel like an archaic system. But what if it could be better? What if you could create the documents you need in a program that blended LaTeX writing with smart, advanced technology?
With Tex Studio, that’s very possible. Tex Studio is an open-source, free program that has been steadily gaining popularity over the past decade. Stylized TeXstudio, this integrated writing environment has been created to make the job of writing LaTeX easier, allowing users to create LaTeX documents in a way that is comfortable and fast.
Before we tell you just how Tex Studio does that, let’s look at LaTeX documents, and get a better understanding of what they are.
What is LaTeX?
Not to be confused with the rubber-like polymers used to create contraceptive aids, LaTeX is short for Lamport TeX. This is a system for document preparation. Whenever a user is creating a document in LaTeX, they use plain text, rather than the formatted style in popular processors like Microsoft Word.
It’s necessary to use markup tags to define the structure and edit the text style, such as making some areas bold, italic or underlined. This system is used in many different fields, quite often for the publication of scientific documents in academia, including:
Why Use LaTeX?
Considering that is somewhat tedious and difficult to use, you may wonder why anyone would choose to use LaTeX instead of Microsoft Word or a similar, formatted processor.
LaTeX has many benefits, including:
While Microsoft and other paid platforms will dominate the mainstream, LaTeX continues to be the choice for scientific documents. And so, there will always be a demand for it. Due to this, the quest for a better platform to create LaTeX documents will continue, which brings us to Tex Studio.
About Tex Studio
Tex Studio is based on an original program called TeXMaker. It has evolved into what it is today almost by accident. In 2008, developers forked TeXstudio from TeXMaker, calling it TeXMakerX.
This copy of the original source code had some major changes applied, including the following additions:
The original idea was to make some extensions to TeXmaker and then possibly merge TeXmakerX with the original program. However, over the next couple of years, TeXMakerX went through some further developments, eventually undergoing enough code changes and feature additions that it became its own independent program.
In 2010, to avoid confusion with the original, the program was renamed Tex Studio (TeXstudio). Since then, Tex Studio has risen to great popularity, with many LaTeX users swearing by it. Let’s look at the few reasons why that has happened.
Benefits of Tex Studio
When it comes to writing long documents, such as books or long-form blogs on mathematics, LaTeX can be quite a chore. Tex Studio comes with a lot of built-in features, eliminating the need to install extra plugins for basic functionality. This can cut the workload down dramatically. Here are some of the great benefits of using Tex Studio.
Easy Writing and Editing
Using Tex Studio comes with a pretty basic learning curve. It is equipped with a variety of templates, as well as some quick wizard applications. Even first-time users can get to grips with the UX without much help. Simply open up the application, then go to File > New from template, and that’s it – you’re ready to start!
If you want to save an edited .tex file to a location other than the default folder, it’s easy. Simply choose another destination folder when you’re saving.
Document Wizard in TeXstudio
A key point to remember is that Tex Studio doesn’t create a single file at a time. It builds at least five files simultaneously, if not more. With that in mind, it’s best to open a blank folder for any single document. This way, all files for the document will be sent to that folder, keeping everything together and ensuring there are no mix-ups when it comes to compiling the finalized document.
If you have a little more experience on the program, simply start off with a blank new file. Do this by navigating to File, then New. In Tex Studio, you can use all the shortcuts from Microsoft Office. This makes for an easy transition if Tex Studio is your first LaTeX writing experience.
Here are some of the most useful features of Tex Studio that you can use while writing a document:
When you want to compile documents in Tex Studio, it really couldn’t be simpler. To do it, navigate to Tools, then Compile. If that’s not quick enough, just press the F6 key.
After compiling, you can locate the document in whatever destination folder you selected when you were first creating it. After compilation, there will be a minimum of seven files in the destination folder, rather than five. These can be read with a suitable reader software, such as a PDF viewer.
Users can view their documents at any time during the creation process, simply by using the instant preview function. After writing, navigate to Tools, then Build & View. Alternatively, press the F1 key.
This will display an instant PDF version on the right-hand side of the editor. This function is built-in to Tex Studio, so you won’t require any external plugins. The preview is convenient and easy to use, allowing for dragging and zooming.
Tex Studio users can customize the settings of the program, and then save those setting in different profiles. If you need different behaviors from the program, you can simply select a different saved profile that is applicable to your project needs.
When you are finished creating a document in Tex Studio, there is a reference section. Here, you can add footer notes, source material links and various credits and other items used in the research and production of your document. You’ll find everything you need in the bibliography menu
Is Tex Studio Worth it?
The original program was TeXMaker, and while it has faded away somewhat, it still has plenty of fans. However, there’s no denying which version is more popular today.
What first began as a side-project has since become a market leader. Tex Studio is undoubtedly more popular than its predecessor, and with good reason. LaTeX isn’t always fun, but with Tex Studio, the frustrations and complications that many LaTeX writers encountered with older apps just aren’t there.
Tex Studio has some major features that LaTeX users now consider essential when writing documents in plain text. For example, the structure view, the drag-and-drop feature for images and tables, and of course, the auto-complete assistant for formulas and code commands.
Many LaTeX users opt for Tex Studio now because it is free, and as an open source option, it has a wide scope for downloading various other user scripts from the many users around the globe. Tex Studio may not be built specifically for beginners, but it is definitely a user-friendly option that novices and seasoned pros alike can appreciate.
The wizards and various assistance with the app make for a great UX, which allows LaTeX novices the opportunity to get comfortable with writing their documents in a short space of time. No doubt about it, Tex Studio is a strong contender for the best app of its kind. LaTeX users will struggle to find one better on the market in 2018.