ShareLaTeX: Online LaTeX compiler

In myphoto first post, I had mentioned that LaTeX has professional-quality typesetting capabilities. For this reason, I used it to write my CV to make it stand out from the ones in Microsoft Word templates. Since my PC had TeX Live installed, compiling my CV had never been an issue.

However, I recently found myself needing a copy of my CV when I did not have my laptop with me. I remembered sending myself a copy of my tex file, which I had used to generate the CV, and retrieved that file using one of the lab computers. Sadly, I discovered that the lab computer did not have a LaTeX compiler. I tried searching for online compilers and found ShareLaTeX. Although skeptical at first, I pasted the tex file contents onto the ShareLaTeX editor and clicked compile. To my surprise, it generated the same PDF file without any logos or footnotes.


The tex file that I had used to generate the PDF had around 10 package files, and ShareLaTeX was able to load all of them without any error. Another significant advantage was the ease of use, unlike in desktop compilers, in which you have to choose the type of compilation. An example of where this often happens includes BibTeX files, which are used to generate a bibliography in a document. In the desktop version, you will have to compile the file in BibTeX mode and then in pdfLaTeX mode; whereas, in the online version, all you have to do is include a bib file in your project folder and compile your tex file.


Since the online version is constricted to a single window, you do not have to navigate between your folders and the editor window (unlike the desktop version), and you can get a clear sense of all the files in your project. Uploading the files can be done by drag-and- drop. The major advantage of using the online version is that you do not have to install any software on your computer; all your files are on the cloud and can be accessed and compiled using any remote machine.

Despite all these advantages, I still use the Desktop compiler whenever I have my laptop with me, as old habits die hard. But, that’s only me. Give the online version a try and bring any questions you have regarding LaTeX to workshops and office hours.

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