I am looking for software to write a quite big and complex book. Something like a good IDE for writing.

It is ok if it is not very user-friendly/simple. I prefer to make my own choices, instead of using opinionated software.

It is it ok if the purpose of the software is not for writing, it should just get the jobs done.

Must have features

  • version control system
  • export content to a text document, like .doc or .ods. .pdf does not suffice.
  • endless nesting of content (like chapters etc)
  • if not running on a server, must run on Linux
  • included (or integrable) project management software

Nice to have features

  • add custom metadata (like tags/categories)
  • write summaries for content
  • notes for content
  • run statistics on metadata OR/AND export metadata
  • if it does not run in the browser spell checking for german would be nice.
  • editors: markdown preferred
  • can run on a server / in the cloud
  • extendable
  • written in PHP, Python, or Javascript.

Software I have ruled out so far:

  • Writing software like Libre Office. The book is getting too complex, to organize the content...
  • Bibisco: no nesting of chapters. No custom metadata
  • Bookstack: the same reason
  • Scrivener: in Linux version very buggy

2 Answers 2


If you want total control and are willing to work for it, I would combine LaTeX, Git and OpenOffice. LaTeX has a fairly steep learning curve, but it solves a lot of problems that are difficult in WYSIAYG software.

LaTeX has all the nesting and book organizing features (automated bibliography, ToC, glossary, references, code formatting, etc) you could want. I edit the text files, but there are editors. This file-based system is perfect for version control with Git (I only used it for making off-machine backups, but you can explore branches, cherry-pick commits and edit on multiple machines without copying stale versions around) This is how I wrote my thesis.

Steal someone else's style file. They've gone to the trouble of making it look good for you. You just need to fill in the content. There is a package on CTAN for whatever you're looking for.

Here is a 10 year old question on converting LaTeX files to OpenOffice ODF format, although a number of other converters are out there.


What about R Bookdown?

R Bookdown was developed by some eminent members of the R Community in order to turn documentation (of some complex software packages) and longer tutorials into full-fledged Books.

The bookdown package is an open-source R package that facilitates writing books and long-form articles/reports with R Markdown.

R Markdown is a superset of the regular Markdown language. Bookdown integrates with the free R studio IDE. You don't need to know much R in order to use it.

The Rstudio IDE Desktop Edition runs very well on Linux. There is also a server edition and a cloud edition. Internally it uses more free software like Git, and the Pandoc package ( to convert files from one markup format into another).

If yoou are new to R, there's still some learning required, though. How to the install required R packages (= extensions, plugins,...), for instance.

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