LaTeX is Dead (long live LaTeX)
Typesetting in the Digital Age

Welcome to the Pitchfork Party

This post comes in the context of a series of healthy discussion pieces on authoring scientific content for the web:11The author has his own torch in hand: I am a core contributor to LaTeXML and an enthusiastic developer at Authorea. So keep that bias in mind while reading on.

In this text, I will try to elaborate on the merits and deficiencies of using a pre-web authoring syntax, LaTeX, for writing modern publications in 2015 as active web documents. My stance is evolutionary – we should adapt our existing tools to the new environment and in the process gain insights for what the next generation of tools ought to be.

If you are a working scientist who authors in LaTeX, I will suggest how to gradually adapt your existing toolchain, while making your first steps towards the future of publishing. If you don’t find the technical details interesting, you can skip to my suggestion in Section \ref{sec:conclusion}.

If you are a developer, I will argue with you that the next generation has not fully arrived yet.

We’re not going to start a fire

Feelings can burn strong when the words “LaTeX” and “Web” appear together.

Debates over tool superiority, especially when online, tend to quickly become heated and destructive. My best guess is that the personal experiences with our tools over time evolve into full-blown relationships, with all associated pros and cons of that status. Maybe you truly love your tool, and that is great, please go ahead and nourish that feeling. Meanwhile, I will step back into more abstract territory and try to poke some applications with a stick and see when they bite. You’re welcome to tag along, but there’s no need for extra venom.