Latex Editors: WinEdt versus TeXstudio

Latex Editor (Downloaded from Google (5 Apr 2013): Labeled as free to reuse
Latex Editor (Downloaded from Google (5 Apr 2013): Labeled as free to reuse

For more years than I care to remember I have been using WinEdt as my latex editor and, to be honest, I quite like it. It does what it says on the tin. Sometimes, it required 2-3 compiles, along with 2-3 bibliography compiles. Actually, that may not be true but I got into the habit of doing that as somebody (many years ago) told me you had to.

Recently, following a discussion with a final year undergraduate student, where I had persuaded him to change from Word to Latex (something I wish I had done during my PhD). A few days after our discussion he told me, and after consulting with his friends, that he had decided to take the plunge.

He later told me that he was using TeXStudio. I had not come across this before but I thought I would take a look. I had recently downloaded the latest version of WinEdt and, although I had bought a license for the previous version, once the trial time was up on the new version (version 7), I would have to buy a new license. This is fine, but TexStudio is free.

I am actually very impressed with TexStudio. I have not investigated all of its functionality yet (and to be fair, nor have I with WinEdt) but I like the fact that when you compile, the PDF is shown within the application, and opening the PDF file in another application is just one click away. I also like the fact that when you compile it seems to resolve everything in one pass. In WinEdt, it is possible to get question marks where the citations should appear as you needed to compile the bibliography.

Overall, I like the look/feel of TexStudio more than WinEdt and it is free to use, so I think I’ll stick with it for now.

It would be interesting to hear if anybody has a different view, or even an opposite view to mine?

Bibtex is not the only solution apparently

Recently I have been blogging quite a lot about bibtex (see here) and how I can parse bibtex files. When I tweeted about my most recent blog post, I received a reply asking whether I had looked at biber and, instead of parsing the bibtex file, whether I would be better off parsing the bcf file that biber produces as, if noting else, it is in XML and that will be a lot easier to parse. And, apparently, the names are already split into given name and family name.

I have had a quick look at biber (and the underlying package biblatex). They certainly look impressive but the learning curve seems to be quite high. From the VERY quick read, you have to install quite a few packages before it will work. This reminds me of the time I first installed WinEdt (a latex system). As an aside, I note that my version of WinEdt is 5.5 and the latest release is version 7. I wonder if it is worth upgrading?

When you install WinEdt, you also have to install the Mitex system. I remember when I did this a few years ago it was painful (I think it is simplified now) and if you did not do things in the correct order then WinEdt failed to work at all. Having said that, WinEdt is a great piece of software and it is my program of choice for writing scientific articles in Latex and, of course, Latex uses Bibtex and it all works.

If I install biblatex/biber will this work with all style files, class files etc. that are supplied by academic publishers or will I forever be trying to work around the system? Indeed, is it possible to use bibtex, and just use the new system when you want?

Maybe it will all work seamlessly (and I know that I should look at the documentation, but there is quite  a lot of it) but I have been caught too many times where you do a quick install and then you are trying to get things to work for hours, if not days. I am not saying that biblatex/biber fall into this category, but I need to be sure that installing this system gives me benefits above and beyond which I already have.

As I have reported on previous posts I now just about have the parsing of names sorted out. However, I do know that I am just about to face problems with strange characters which are usually as a result of mathematical symbols or accent on names. If a new package is able to deal with those, so I don’t have to edit the file manually, or write yet another parser, then it might be worth installing.

But is it worth installing, just to find out? I’m not sure yet. I need to do some more digging around.