When mathematicians and scientists start writing something it’s very likely to go beyond words — with much of the key content presented in the form of symbols and equations. Pedestrian word processors are not properly equipped for this, but the LaTeX typesetting system is. Now, Zurich-based student and aspiring full-stack software engineer Vincent Dörig has taken LaTeX to the website level with his GitHub project LaTeX.css.
Created in the early 1980s by American computer scientist Leslie Lamport as an addition to the TeX typesetting system, LaTeX is a proven and popular computer programming language designed for high-quality typesetting of equations, mathematical symbols and other elements of technical documents. The free software package is most often used for medium-to-large technical or scientific documents, but can also be applied to almost any other publishing format.
Dörig’s LaTeX.css is a minimal, almost class-less CSS library that renders any website HTML document into a LaTeX document. Since its release last week the project has garnered over 1,500 stars on GitHub. Guillermo Rauch, co-founder and CEO of Vercel (formerly ZEIT), a cloud platform for websites and serverless APIs, endorsed LaTeX.css on Twitter.
Researchers may choose LaTeX over other scientific document preparation systems for a number of reasons. Mark Tomforde, a math professor at the University of Houston, explains that LaTeX not only handles numbering and internal referencing within a document but also has a coherent package system that makes it relatively easy for users to write extension packages in order to provide additional features. LaTeX also provides various author-specified elements and can be readily converted to other outputs such as PDF and HTML.
Anyone interested in trying out LaTeX.css can start by writing semantic HTML and then adding
<link rel="stylesheet" href="https://latex.now.sh/style.css"> to the
<head> of the project, according to a detailed handbook style instructions Dörig has provided.
The LaTeX.css project enables adding optional classnames for elements with special styles (author subtitle, abstract, lemmas, theorems, etc.) along the way, while the labels for theorems, definitions, lemmas, and proofs can be changed to other supported languages including German, French, and Italian.
The source code is on the project GitHub.
Journalist: Yuan Yuan | Editor: Michael Sarazen