[clug] Any experience in collaborative authoring using Version Control and Latex??

steve jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Tue Jan 8 02:07:31 MST 2013

A recent experience has made me think again about how Tom Linoncelli
co-wrote a book with someone on the other side of a either continent or
ocean, using email, latex and an SVN or CVS repo on a hosting service.
[Who went bust in the middle of it and caused a move.]

I've just gone through the classic Wordprocessing multi-author
nightmare. Albeit, not nearly as bad as it may have been.

 - I wrote something in "Pages" and exported that as a 'doc' file
 - but did share the first few versions as PDF's.
    Giving them the idea of commenting on an immutable copy.
 - then imported that into OpenOffice because we wanted to all play with
the text.
 - Somehow I got a different Page Format and we ended up with different
numbers of printed pages [hard limit on pages]
 - One of the group didn't have Helvetica... [Huh?] new font needed
 - we got line numbers going and one person got 'control' of the doc.
 - they did well, inventing a reasonable unique filenaming scheme
 - we did have a conversation in the document using the Many Bright
Colours scheme. Hmmm... There are

 - and it looked like we'd escape relatively ordered, until
   one of the group took the lastest copy and started editing it.
   i.e they took control without agreement.
 - did create a new name and sent it around.
 - and then sent out an later version, with the SAME filename.

 - I made comments based on the new line numbers, and then had to redo
them based on the old.

 - I've no idea if the Doc Controller can/will integrate their changes
and the various emails..

 - we've got a lot of quirks and artefacts left in:
   non-white spaces or links, dot-point lists with different indents,
inconsistent section numbering, some odd font and point sizes and the
line numbers in the left margin strangely change font/point-size...

The failing in my little scheme is you have to apply edits in *reverse*
line number order (start high, work forward) or you're snookered after
the very first change (line nrs no longer same in OpenOffice).

I'm sure that detail will escape my friends and we'll be floundering on
the Final Copy.

Does anyone have experience with using Latex and a shared Versioning system?

Is there an Ordinary User interface to something like that?
LyX allows dummies like me to fake their way with Latex, well somewhat.
Does it or another tool support Versioning?

I specifically don't want a real-time "Collaboration Tool" [Google had
one of those and set it free a couple of years ago, didn't they? Name
escapes me...]

Thanks in Advance.


Steve Jenkin, Info Tech, Systems and Design Specialist.
0412 786 915 (+61 412 786 915)
PO Box 48, Kippax ACT 2615, AUSTRALIA

sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au http://members.tip.net.au/~sjenkin

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