Add Math Support

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Revision as of 15:16, 17 March 2007 by Herm (talk | contribs)
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Add Math Support


I often wanted to have a tool that allows complicated layouts but still is easy to use. This is exactly what scribus does. However for scientific papers I lacks one main capability: Formulas. So I want to add these as my summer of code project. The bugtracker also lists requests for math support

there's a feature request in the Debian database

and it's also on the

So quite a lot of people seem to want this feature.


In IRC we came to the conclusion that it probably is the best to use a approch like MathSetter.

  • Let the user enter LaTeX source (perhaps using LyX's editor)
  • Run latex
  • Read latex's output
  • Display this output instead of the source.



There will be a new object that consists of a group of vector objects (these objects are created by importing the EPS or PDF output of latex) and which has a property that stores the latex source. For editing this property either a simple text dialog (syntax highlighting?) is displayed or LyX is started with the existing text loaded as the default file.

Processing the latex input

When the user has finished editing latex is run with a temporary file created by inserting the userinput to the template (see below). preview.sty is used to create a DVI file with a matching boundingbox. The DVI is converted to either PDF or EPS and then imported (functions for import are already included in scribus).

Handling missing latex / wrong syntax

When latex is missing the display of the object is replaced by the error message (or the source?) and a problem is flagged in the preflight verifier.


There should be a template so the user only has to type the formula and no header. However it is probably a good idea to allow disabling/replacing the template (or at lest the non-required (preview.sty) parts) so the user can define own styles.


  • The barcode generator works similar to this, but has a major drawback: It's not possible to edit it once a barcode is placed.
  • Various LaTeX to HTML tools might be a good starting point to check how the EPS/PDF is best created.


(Nice things that might be possible but are not guranteed to work)

This should also be usable to import editable graphs generated in latex (pstricks) and even would provide some (limited) support for tables. Formating the table text is however restricted to latex's capabilities and editing has to be done in latex-syntax.


  • TeX Rendering (Discussion)
  • Math support (Discussion)
  • KFormula (Formula editor, output does not look satisfying)
  • TeXmacs (very good looking formula editor, not based on TeX or Emacs despite its name)
  • LyX (WYSIWYG LaTeX editor)