8

I'm looking for an android app that allows me to write and compile LaTeX documents.

It must:

  • Work completely offline
    • I'll probably be working at home a lot and there I only a have a dial up connection, so I can't connect to the internet to compile.
  • Allow easy control of what packages are installed.
    • Since I need offline compilation, the app should let me download the packages I need when I am able to use the internet, not download packages in a need only basis. It's okay if I need to do this manually (i.e. downloading the packages from CTAN myself).
  • Have full functionality.
    • i.e. allow use of bibtex/including graphics/plotting.
  • Output to pdf
  • Have the xelatex and/or lualatex compilers available.
  • Allow compiling of external latex documents.
  • Be stable. (i.e. no crashing)

It'd be nice if:

  • It was free.
  • It let me control where the files outputted go.
  • There was google drive and/or dropbox integration.
  • Good UI.

I know of web-based latex compilers such as sharelatex and overleaf, however these obviously don't work without an internet connection.

4

I feel kind of weird answering my own question in this site. So just in case I'll just leave a disclaimer saying that I do NOT work for or know anyone that works with the developers of this app.

After some searching I found that what works best for me are the TeXpert and TeXPortal apps. Both are developed by lameandroidhero.


Intro

TeXPortal is a LaTeX compiler: enter image description here

The full version has includes compiler that I know of (pure Tex, pdflatex, xelatex, lualatex,context, dvips, bibtex ...). You can choose any .tex input file from the app and compile it. You can also manage the packages that you have installed. Importantly for me, you can download packages now and keep them in your tablet for when you are offline. It also automatically downloads missing packages if your document requires them.

TeXpert is a LaTeX editor: enter image description here (the document shown is not mine, I found it here)

As you can see, the full version supports side by side visualization of the document and has sintax colouring. You can tap in the pdf version to go to the corresponding part in the source, and vice versa. It has auto completion options, but they are not very useful for me (when writing a command a list of possible completions appears, you can tap one to complete. However since I write with a keyboard it's easier for me to just finish the command than move my finger all the way to the screen and risk tapping the wrong one). The app links to TeXPortal, and you can press a button in the settings (or ctrl-T in a keyboard) to compile at any time. You have full control of where the files go, and it is compatible with at least dropbox and drive (which are the ones I use).


Pros

TexPortal

  • Full control of what packages are installed.
  • If connected to the internet can install missing packages automatically.
  • Has every compiler you might need
  • Works offline
  • Can compile any .tex file, not only those produced by TeXpert.
  • You can easily cancel compilations in process if there's something wrong.

Texpert

  • Sintax highlighting
  • Dropox/drive integration (might have more, but I've only used these two)
  • Can see pdf file and source side to side
  • Command completion
  • It works with dual screen in my Samsung Galaxy S 10.
  • After you learn where eveything is, UI is quite good.
  • Automatically organizes the sections in your document in the left side, you can use this to navigate the document.

Cons

TeXPortal

  • The notification you get after compilation will not let you know if there were any errors. It's always "Compilation Successful", even if there was a fatal error. You need to go to the logs manually to see any erros.
  • No easy way to delete all the extra files produced during compilation, has to be done manually.
  • Every compilation produces a separate notification, and does not delete the previous one. If you are like me and compile constantly, your notification bar will fill up quickly.

Texpert

  • Kind of unstable. It has crashed on me on several occasions, sometimes loosing data. Make sure you save constantly.
  • Sometimes, if you have unsaved work and go to another app, when you go back it will be on the last saved version. It will not tell you this has happened, but attempts to warn you before it happens (If you get an "unsaved buffers" notification, make sure to go back to the app and save quickly).

    I will note that the stability problems are not nearly serious enough to make the app unusable, at least for me. Just save often.

  • Auto complete is kind of inconvenient.

  • Scrolling is weird. You move the screen with your fingers as you would expect, but it tends to move either more or less than I expect. Maybe this is just me.
  • Lack of good documentation gives it a slight learning curve at the begining. All of the options are in a bar in the left side of the screen (a slide will make it appear). However they are just small icons, with no text to identify what each does. You will need a little bit of experimenting to figure them out.
  • A recent update added progress bars for each action that requires reading or writing to memory. I find these kind of annoying, since you have to tap the screen to remove them.

Price

This is really the biggest problem. Each app will set you back around $20 dollars. This makes them by far the most expensive apps I own. However, since they provide full LaTeX functionality, I found them to be worth the investment.

There are free versions of both, but they have limiations.

TeXPortal

  • Only has pdflatex (this was the biggest deal breaker for me).
  • Compilation is slower.
  • Compilation is cancelled if the app is interrupted. This means that while a document is compiling you cannot change apps, rotate the screen, plug anything in or turn off the screen.
  • Cannot manually kill a process.

TeXPert

  • No internal PDF viewer
  • No support for cloud storage.

If you have to buy only one, I'd recommend TeXPortal, since there are plenty of good text editors for android out there. However, I don't think there are any that has the range of functionality that TeXpert has, and definetely not the level of collaboration with the compiler.

0

I have a gentoo system in a chroot and my latex and my favorite editor vim with syntax highlighting there. If you use screen to keep your terminal reconnectable in case the android memory management kills your terminal app vim never crashes. If you do not use screen the file edited by the killed vim is usually recoverable - well you save it anyway before compiling. If you use vnc or xserver you can watch the output with evince. You don't need to be as geeky as me to use latex. There are installers for debian and ubuntu chroot systems.

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