Latex Command Window for vBulletin

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  • Thread starter -Job-
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  • #1
-Job-
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As Latex gets to be more popular on web forums a nice feature would be able to display a list of the most common Latex commands in a window, for reference.

I've been working on a plugin for vBulletin which adds this capability.
I wanted it to have minimal impact on a forum, so that it's there when you need it and not there when you don't.

The plugin places an icon (sigma) next to the PHP icon on the button row at the top of the post editor. Clicking on that button brings up a window with Latex commands, a button for each, so that they can be pasted into the text area by clicking them.

Nothing is loaded until the sigma button is clicked so it doesn't add unnecessary content or delay the load time.

The list of Latex commands, and the directory structure is generated from a customizable XML file, so it's easy to hide, show, add or remove commands and command groups.

It uses CSS for the look, so that it can be customized to match the forum skins.

To avoid using Ajax (and bring up cross-browser compatibility issues) i used iframes, so it works fine on the browsers i've tested so far (IE, FF and Opera).

I took the liberty of saving a page from PhysicsForums.com to show the plugin in action (no skin applied). Here's a link:
http://www.bloo.us/pf/" [Broken]

This will be available as an open source, GPL project. It would be cool if PF decided to use it, but if you don't that's fine as well, i'm just getting the word out.

If it doesn't work on your browser please let me know.
 
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  • #2
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I have just tried it , very nice!
 
  • #3
Hootenanny
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Excellent idea Job, and very well executed. It was be a welcomed addition to the forum for those users new to latex, but require mathematical content in their posts.
 
  • #4
G01
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This is great, I definitely hope they pick it up.
 
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  • #5
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Job, can you have it place several commands without clicking off the popup? I have to select one command, click off, click the button and then select the next command. Very nice idea though!

btw, is it release ready now? If not, when?
 
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  • #6
Moonbear
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I can't get into your site, Job, to check it out (are you getting heavy traffic with folks here checking it out, or is it down for some reason?), but from what you described, I really like that idea and would love that addition. I'm one of those hopeless people who has no idea how to use Latex, and really have no need to learn it or use it other than the rare post here where some of the more common commands are all that would be needed, so that would certainly make me happy if it works and is implemented.
 
  • #7
robphy
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It looks great! (I've tried on FF1.5/Win).
Some suggestions:

Can the menu open along the right margin? as opposed to the left, which blocks the text field and has to be moved manually.

Maybe on first use, do a [ tex ] [/ tex ]. Maybe put a button near the top bar.

Maybe one can have a toggle between insert and overwrite, with insert as the default.

Maybe left and right cursor buttons in the top menu bar.


A preview would be great... but that's wishful thinking.
 
  • #8
Moonbear
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Ah, was able to view it now. Very nice. I agree with robphy's suggestions, but even without, it's much better than guessing for those of us who don't use it very often.

I tested on Safari 2.0.4 Seems to work well.
 
  • #9
-Job-
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I don't have a vBulletin forum to look at, but installation of the plugin requires only adding one line to the end of the Post Editor page, which shouldn't be a problem right?

I might have an issue with the icons, because i ripped them from TeXniCenter :) . But since TeXniCenter is under GPL, and the plugin would be under GPL as well i think it's fine, but i have to confirm that.
Otherwise i will have to make icons myself which could take a while (or not use icons at all).

Thanks for the feedback, some good ideas.
 
  • #10
-Job-
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I implemented some of RobPhy's and Greg's suggestions and it's more usable now. As far as the window position i'll have that be a server side setting, so that it's customizable according to the forum's needs.

I also added support for non-icon buttons (because i imagine the webmaster might not have icons for every command.

Finally i added a "Common Snippets" menu for common LaTeX stuff (i.e. common math formula's, which are also read from the Command XML file.

The icons being from TeXniCenter isn't a problem.

By the way, as far as verbiage goes this "Plugin" falls more under the category of a hack or extension, because vBulletin Plugins follow some process defined by vBulletin and are installable/uninstallable from the admin Control Panel.
I'm calling this an Extension to avoid confusion, this is not a Plugin as defined by vBulletin.

Installation involves just adding a single line to the pages that should use the Latex Reference.

I tried to get a copy of vBulletin so that i can turn this into a plugin but vBulletin doesn't have any demo or dev versions available for download, and the cheapest one is $85, so not right now.

If you have more comments on how to improve the usability of this Latex Extension they are very welcome.
http://www.bloo.us/pf/ [Broken]
 
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  • #11
-Job-
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I have the first version of the Latex Extension for vBulletin available here:
http://www.bloo.us/academic/latex/plugin [Broken]
 
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  • #12
Hootenanny
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Nice job, -Job- :wink:

(sorry, couldn't resist)
 
  • #14
Math Is Hard
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WOW!!!! Very cool!!!
 
  • #15
cristo
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That's a really good idea, job, and well implemented. Will be good for people posting homework for the first time, as well as those who don't use LaTex enough to warrant learning it.
 
  • #16
Math Is Hard
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Nice to see the whole ATHF gang in this thread!!!:cool:
 
  • #17
cristo
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  • #19
cristo
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Ahhh, thanks! I was really confused then-- mite have give that try.
 
  • #20
G01
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Nice to see the whole ATHF gang in this thread!!!:cool:
I was just about to point it out MIH!!

Cristo, you enjoying ATHF? It must be weird now that all of our avatars make sense huh??:biggrin:
 
  • #21
-Job-
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I turned this into a proper vBulletin plugin (actually a "product" using vB's terminology), so it's easily installable and can be configured from the control panel. Available here: http://www.bloo.us/academic/latex/plugin/ [Broken]
 
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  • #22
G01
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Job I can't download the plugin from that website. I need a user name?? Anyway, do we, the users install this plugin, or is it something Greg or Warren have to install?
 
  • #23
-Job-
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G01, It's installed at the server. I didn't realize it wasn't publicly acessible, it should be now.
 
  • #25
G01
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G01, It's installed at the server. I didn't realize it wasn't publicly acessible, it should be now.
Great! Will be installed tomorrow! :approve:
Awesome!!:biggrin:
 

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