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/docs/community?hl=en
2/16/12
Original Poster
WhiteRabbit

When is Google going to put back latex editing into equation editor? And in the mean time, can your support clipboard operations that convert to and from latex.

As many people have pointed out, an equation editor without *Tex is nearly useless except for trivial use. On the other hand, apparently this feature was removed in order to make life easier for beginners. I understand this motivation, as most users are not sufficiently knowledgeable to take advantage of Tex, and the graphical editor requires almost no learning curve for new users. However, perhaps it is possible to get the best of both worlds without changing the easy look and feel of the new WYSIWYG editor.
 
An alternative that would make the new equation editor usable by serious users would be to make the clipboard operations convert to and from Tex. There would be no downside to this, since the current clipboard conversion to text is useless (only raw characters are copied). What I have in mind is that you would be able to copy and paste latex code to and from the Google equation editor even if the GUI only shows the current simple editor.

This clipboard feature would require absolutely no GUI changes, so it should be pretty easy to implement, and would not inhibit beginners.

It would be better, though, if the graphical editor accepted Tex compatible keystrokes (e.g. semantics for curly braces), in which case pasting text content into the equation editor would be the same as typing the same text.

Another idea: allow the user to select an encoding in options to specify the translation from plain text. For example, the Mathematica encoding would facilitate integration with Mathematica. Just copy a Mathematica expression to the clipboard, insert an equation in Google Docs (which would put the user in the new graphical equation editor), then paste, and voila, your formatted equation appears, ready for further editing.

The transition to the new editor is worrisome because it seems to indicate a change in Google philosophy to something a bit more Microsoft-ish. I hope this is not the case, but it seems as if instead of listening to the opinions of Google's fabulous base of technological know how, apparently a few management executives must be making final design decisions behind closed doors based on a superficial analysis of usability by the masses. I'd find it hard to believe that the brilliant engineering base at Google would have supported the removal of the Tex based equation editor without noisy objection. I don't think removal of key features in the name of simplicity is a very good idea most of the time.

Regards,
Ken Seehart

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All Replies (10)
Felicity_BB
2/16/12
Felicity_BB
Seconding this feature suggestion--I loved being able to directly access Latex code through the old editor's equation editor.  The new editor recognises Latex when typed in, but it was easier to have direct access to the code.
2/16/12
Original Poster
WhiteRabbit
"The new editor recognises Latex when typed in,"

Unfortunately it supports only a small subset of Latex, such as backslash macros. In particular, curly braces are not handled, without which you really can't do much of anything. For example, typing the following into the equation editor fails:

 \sqrt{b^2 - 4ac}

Most of the backslash macros work, but they favored the use of Tab to exit levels instead of curly braces. Unfortunately this makes powerful features harder to design.

Also, if you paste from the clipboard, the semantics are ignored.


Bas Braams
2/16/12
Bas Braams
My recommendation to the Google Docs developers is to adopt MathJax as the TeX/LaTeX interface, at the user side anyway. It was previously suggested here [1] and I suggested it in the longer discussion [2].

"For Web-oriented work these days there is MathJax: www.mathjax.org. It has the backing of some big names, IEEE, AIP and AMS for starters, and it is getting to be incorporated into wiki services such as wikidot. If the GDocs team would want to do something decent with equations they probably should think hard about incorporating MathJax into the documents editor. It would not be entirely straightforward, because MathJax is built upon CSS and Javascript whereas the GDocs documents editor does not map directly to HTML. However, I suspect that a choice to base GDocs mathematics editing upon a MathJax-like front-end would have a good chance of success."

The nice thing about adopting MathJax is that it actually offers a way to export GDocs documents to HTML without having to turn the equations into a bitmap, they can just be preserved in their MathJax code.

[1] Any plans for improved equation support in Documents/Presentations? (e.g. MathJax/LaTeX)
https://groups.google.com/a/googleproductforums.com/d/topic/docs/uFhFzqjP9kA/

[2] Various serious rendering problems with the equation editor
2/20/12
Original Poster
WhiteRabbit
Good idea. After researching MathJax, I realized that if Google doesn't want to do MathJax, there is an alternative that is almost as good. Really one single feature would make all the difference in the world.

Copy and Paste MATHML

That's it. This is the single overriding feature.

I think Ofice 365 has this. I really would hate to choose Microsoft over Google, but I have no choice to admit that this single feature could force us to switch.

Why is it so important? Because the rest of the world knows MATHML. I can copy and paste MATHML to and from Mathematica. I can paste MATHML into a web page since HTML5 supports MATHML directly. I want the target to be alive, not a 

marianoi
4/21/12
marianoi
I second this... Gdocs needs full Latex and CITATION support. 
spec78888
1/20/13
spec78888
I second this!
Felicity_BB
1/20/13
Felicity_BB
Posting again to agree - a Latex equation feature would be great!
Christoffer Hansson
6/17/13
Christoffer Hansson
Me too! Can't understand that Google now is falling behind Office 365 after a few years head start. And, soon Apple iWork in the Cloud will come. What will happen then with all those great design features. Google suck template-wise and in being able to style your documents. Make it work for us who actually use your services!
stuefi
7/7/13
stuefi
i started using sharelatex.com, a full latex-editor that works online.
Philip Whittington
2/21/14
Philip Whittington
Seconded...
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