1. 7
  1.  

  2. 4

    To me this post feels like a good example of how the future is here but is unevenly distributed. The post is a review of Github’s efforts to allow LaTeX in its Markdown flavor. I would see this as a niche nice-to-have for Github issues and maybe light math in READMEs, while the conclusion of the post seems to want to use it for bigger things like research articles:

    The reason why I’m so excited about this feature is that, in combination with version control and the issues/discussions capabilities in GitHub, I can see tectonic changes in how we’re publishing science. At last, science can really reap the benefits of a connected internet by moving away from static PDFs to living, breathing repositories which render like PDFs and provide a central place where one can actually talk about the article. – And fix bugs!

    The thing is, setting up what they describe is already possible today. You write a Github Action to compile the LaTeX files in your project and host the resulting PDFs somewhere like S3. Then you can get exactly the workflow they describe, where people collaborate on research papers using pull request, can publish drafts in the same way, and can file bug reports if they want. You can get away with this on the free tiers of Github Actions and one of the S3 look-a-likes.

    For many of us nerds, setting this up is trivial, even if it involves annoying amounts of yaml and slow testing cycles. For others, like presumably the post author, it involves so many known or unknown unknowns that it is effectively impossible.

    1. 4

      I agree, it’s like people who want to shoehorn Markdown into every part of the publishing process - from writing a comment on a web forum to authoring a technical book.

      Markdown is great, but it has limits, and rather than trying to extend MD to cover everything it’s better to choose the tools that are suited for different roles.

      If you’re already familiar with La/Tex math markup, the rest of the syntax isn’t that bad. I think it’s great you can add math markup via MathJAX but if you’re writing anything more complex than a README, use La/TeX. It’s as plaintext as Markdown, after all.

      1. 1

        I don’t think “this paper can only be reasonably developed on github because of the math stuff in GFM” is a good idea, but I guess it will become wide-spread.