30

Instead (or in addition) to having TeX markup eventually, we could also have a little LaTeX/TeX sand box apear on every page (possibly with a way to hide it) in similar style to LaTeXit! on mac. This would allow people who do not have a working solution to try out a small bit of LaTeX without going the trouble of creating a temporary file on their computer, figuring out the preamble and then remove said files...it would also help in writing answers for same reason, you think you know what you want to write, plop it in the box, hit a button (or not!) and see immediately if the result is to your liking.

By the way, if I understand correctly, for someone with power to make this happen, this idea had better be popular...please vote up or down accordingly.

EDIT:

To make this post go somewhere, I would like to suggest that people list here posts that would benefit from a good solution to this problem. It already is CW, and I'll start it off:

  • Why not simply use docs.latexlab.org? – Brad Johansen Aug 2 '10 at 22:40
  • You mean embed it, or use it as an external tool? Part of the idea is to allow images generated from LaTeX to be shown together with the LaTeX code that created them. and the problem is that we do not want to host images externally, but would prefer a solution that allows images to be hosted by us, but avoided the worry that the system will be abused. – Yossi Farjoun Aug 3 '10 at 10:59
  • @Juan: I understand from your edit that you think that compiling this list is a waste of time. OK. however, the question remains: how do we get this ball moving somewhere? I can provide hosting space initially, if that is the problem. – Yossi Farjoun Aug 7 '10 at 11:18
  • Sorry, I hope that didn't came out as rude. To be honest, I don't really know what is the process for getting these features implemented. My guess is that, now that there is more or less some consensus that the feature is needed, how should we approach the people from StackExchange in order to get this feature implemented? And what help could we provide for that to happen? – Juan A. Navarro Aug 7 '10 at 12:09
  • No offense taken. To facilitate the process, I thought we could have a medium-sized list of various types of places where the feature would be useful. I thought that this would be more useful to the SO people than to just say "any question/answer so far that required an image to be included.", but perhaps I'm wrong. – Yossi Farjoun Aug 7 '10 at 12:34
7

We could have an input box available for playing around, a sandbox (at the left border of the page? or at the very bottom?). It should probably have a few options like LaTeX, TeX, etc., and hidden or shown preamble. Of course a "Type-Set!" button which causes an image to appear under the textbox (or error messages). This image appears with a local link (possibly only if it is small "enough"), which can then be copied into an answer/question/comment if desired. If the link is used within a few days/hours/minutes after creation, the image is saved forever, if not, the image is deleted, so as to not accumulate all the sand-box castles that are created. In addition, hover-text of the source can be created automagically, since we have all the information on the generation of the image.

This should allow users to play around with *TeX, images (of TeX'ed results) to be included, which seems to satisfy most image uses at the moment. For other images, this will not provide a better solution than the current one.

EDIT: I just realized that I included Juan's answer into mine without proper reference. Clearly this answer is the embodiment of Juan's idea with a few extra implementation details tacked on.

5

I second this idea. Moreover, if it is possible to include not only the code, but also its rendered form as an image, then we would also get a fairly decent solution to most of the image hosting problem.

1

If it's just about the ease of getting a bit of latex rendered, then there are already quite a few pages on the web, that do this. We could easily link to something like that for an easy solution. http://pastebin.tlhiv.org/ has a preview for example and he gave me the code for making it work in the past, albeit it's not too difficult to come up with yourself. If you want it to be part of the site, which I would really prefer, then we could use something like that as a start, but it gets tricky fast when trying to decide what interpreter, format, documentclass and packages to use.

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