A so-called fork-off from another popular LaTeX editor, TeXstudio offers an interesting proposition as an editor that delivers most of the things you’d expect but with the addition of the principles that caused the open-source developers to fork off in the first place.
Free to use
Packed with features
Can be complex to set up
No collaboration options
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LaTeX documents, used by a variety of professions including academics, mathematicians, and even book authors, are a great way to help writers generate a desirable format without the headache that would typically be associated with using a standard word processing program like Word, Pages, or Google Docs.
That said, creating a LaTeX document requires a large amount of skill because it will typically involve learning a new language, much like a programming language. While you won’t necessarily need to invest in one of the best laptops for programmers, you will want to consider making use of a specialised LaTeX document writer like TeXstudio.
TeXstudio: Plans and pricing
TeXstudio is an open source project, which means that it has the passion and the knowhow behind it. A quick look at the website also indicates that it receives regular updates, with eight taking place in 2022 and 13 in 2021.
Given its open source nature, TeXstudio is free to download. It’s available on Windows, macOS, and Linux, however there may be some limitations depending on the machine you’re using. For example, Windows 7, 8, and 10 users can all download TeXstudio from the website, however Windows 11 users will have to make some adjustments before installing.
TeXstudio is a tool that branched off from Texmaker, following a difference in philosophies and a lack of open development. At the time, it was branded as TexmakerX, and its developers were hopeful that it would be reintegrated into the original tool, however over a decade later it remains its own entity.
Some TeXstudio users may be technically savvy, given the area of work that it can cover. For those who are keen on behind-the-scenes details, the developers also publish the changelog online.
In terms of using the software, if you regularly find yourself writing large amounts of text, then you will appreciate the auto completion feature, which can suggest possible commands in real-time. You can also place the cursor in multiple places simultaneously for making edits at the same time. You may also value the ability to bookmark placeholders within the document to make it easy to find certain chapters, for example.
It’s clear that TeXstudio has spent a lot of time gearing its product to mathematicians, with the availability of more than 1,000 mathematical symbols, which can be pulled in with handy ‘\’ commands.
If you’re the type of user who doesn’t have a whole lot of knowledge about writing LaTeX documents, the software’s assistants can generate code to embed things like images, tables, and formulas for you. You can also drag images straight into the document and the assistant will pop up to help you create the code.
There are a number of areas that TeXstudio compares to traditional word processing tools, too, like with the handy spell checker and grammar checker. There’s also an integrated PDF viewer so that you can check your progress on-the-go, and while it doesn’t promise to produce exactly what you’re creating (this is reserved for the final export), it’s a near-enough guide.
TeXstudio: Interface and in use
When installing TeXstudio, you’ll also need to install a LaTex distribution. Users are recommended to install MacTeX for macOS, for example, which will allow them to fully use TeXstudio. MiKTeX and TeX Live are suggested as options for Windows users.
We were only able to test TeXstudio on these two operating systems, and their functionalities were clearly the same regardless of OS. While there were a few design differences, both were fundamentally running the same version (during our testing, this was 4.4.1).
Because this is an open-source project (without the backing of a large company behind it), things get a bit personal when you need to reach out for support. Benito van der Zander, the maintainer of TeXstudio and one of the four cited authors, has posted his own email address to the site, along with a link to a website where you can keep up to date with his other work and goings-on (of which there are plenty).
As already mentioned, Texmaker is another suitable alternative from which TeXstudio can trace its roots. It has the backing of a creator that was behind Kile, and has been around several years longer than TeXmaker. That said, many of its functionalities are very similar.
There are other options, too, like the online-only Overleaf, which has built-in collaboration features and comes with everything you need so that there are no complex installs required. That said, while there is a free version, there are also three subsequent paid tiers of membership, alongside some group plans, student pricing, and discounts for annual signups. However, it may be more agreeable for those who choose to work from a Chromebook, for example.
The use cases for a LaTeX editor are fairly limited, and many users who may have traditionally opted for such a product are likely considering traditional word processing software too. Then, of course, you have the specialities that see different users requiring different types of products. If you are in need of a LaTeX editor, and don’t want to pay for a high-tech, online tool, then this free-of-charge, open-source piece of kit provides the best value for (no) money, and even if you’re not convinced, checking it out with no time-limited trials should be something that you consider.
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