[OS X TeX] A question from a new member

jkock jkock at start.no
Tue Oct 17 06:40:56 CEST 2006

AlphaX doesn't have folding; AlphaTk does.  For the other features you
list, AlphaX should meet your needs.

Let me mention a few exotic features in Alpha you might not even imagine
asking about:

Many unique features based on log file scanning: can automatically figure
out what the root file is in a multi-file tex project (the user doesn't
have to write special tags in each input file), and which engine to typeset
with; can automatically figure out what the next action should be depending
on the result of a tex run (e.g. if bibtex or a second tex run is needed,
or rather error browsing or viewing); can go to precise error line even for
errors where tex does not give a line number; can select errors with word
accuracy, not just line accuracy.  Restores previous aux file in case of a
interrupted tex run, to avoid undefined references in next run; offer to
delete aux file when an error occur in it (this happens a lot with hyperref

Many cool features based on a transparent temp-file mechanism: the main one
in this context is `typeset-selection': it works by creating a temporary
file with preamble taken from the root document and body taken from the
selection.  All pointers to the text (e.g. error selection) is
automatically redirected to the original document.  Another use of this
technology is `diff-selections'.  In general Alpha has a very smooth
interface to diff and patch -- in fact, Alpha is a complete GUI frontend to
diff.  For tex users, it is notable that there is a word-by-word diff: this
is very useful if you reflow paragraphs and want to compare with a previous
version: standard diff would mark the entire paragraph as changed, whereas
word-by-word diff pinpoints the word changes (of course this facility also
uses temp files behind the scene).

A main problem with Alpha is its availability: the developers are sort of
afraid of making releases.  The current release, 8.0.2, was released last
Spring after more than a year in code freeze, with the result that it
represents a two-year-old state of development (plus minor bug fixes).
For example, some of the diff features are not present in that release.
If you are just a little bit adventurous (e.g. are also not afraid of
using TeXShop beta, TeX Live 2005, or new versions of the i-Installer),
I would recommend using the development version of Alpha which is available
from CVS at SourceForge.  Instructions are given in the 8.0.2 distribution.


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