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  • Auto-compiling in ShareLaTeX

    Posted by Paulo on October 31, 2017

    This article was originally published on the ShareLaTeX blog and is reproduced here for archival purposes.

    Years of friendly competition in the same product space have made Overleaf and ShareLaTeX overlap quite a lot, feature-wise. Still, both services have unique strengths and some of these are actually product-defining—almost signature features. This was evident in the survey we conducted just after we announced our merger, and made clear which features we should definitely keep (and improve)!

    One such feature from Overleaf is automatic compiling: as soon as you finish typing a significant portion of text, we trigger a recompilation of the document in the background. The main idea is to be as close as possible to a real-time preview of your document, allowing you to focus more on your writing and less on the tool. It also helps prevent LaTeX errors building up in the background, preventing the situation whereby, after writing for a while, you end up with a lot of errors to debug.

    We are aware that many of our users really value this feature—we know how annoying it can be to have to stop the train of thought while writing—and "real time compilation" and "real-time compiling" were among the most common expressions in the feedback we've received so far.

    What do you value most in Overleaf?

    With this in mind, we knew that automatic compiling should definitely be one of the first integration-related tasks. As a result, we are now able—and very happy—to announce that automatic compiling is coming to ShareLaTeX! And perhaps you've already seen it: if you're on the ShareLaTeX beta program, auto-compiling landed for you four weeks ago; if not, then perhaps you're one of the 30% of users that got the feature by now—we're gradually deploying the auto-compiling feature to everybody.

    Of course, we know automatic compiling might not be everyone's cup of tea. Personal preference or even different projects might make auto compiling a less than ideal match for your workflow. We also really don't want to be too intrusive, so we've opted to have the feature "off" by default for ShareLaTeX users. Do try it out, though—and, please, be assured that you can always turn it off.

    Auto-compiling in action

    This is just one of the many steps until we reach an integrated and improved service, the best of both Overleaf and ShareLaTeX (and even better, we hope). We believe that, as is, this is already a great improvement for ShareLaTeX users, but we really want to hear your opinion: if you're a regular ShareLaTeX user, what do you think about this feature? Have you tried it? And if you're an Overleaf user, how's your experience with automatic compiling been? Any suggestions on how we could improve it? Please, fill in our very quick survey and help us shape the new, integrated service.

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