First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Publishing high-quality documents with Kile
- — 20 October, 2007 04:36
Kile as a text editor
If it has not been developed with TeX and LaTeX in mind, the KILE editor would be ranked among the best general purpose text editors available today on Unix/BSD and Linux platforms. Kile's editing functionality beats lightweight editors such as Kate or Gedit. The official syntax of the TeX and LaTeX compilers will be traditionally shown in color over the regular text contents but not only typesetting language is supported. A visit to the menu "Tools/Highlights" will bring forth a list of more than 100 supported programming and symbolic languages, including C, Perl, Python, Matlab, Octave, and R. Source code highlighting will come to rescue when preparing publications containing lengthy source code listings.
Every entry in the menus "Edit" and "View", no matter how ordinary the task it performs, is well thought out and implemented and many of these will appeal to programmers. For generic text editing settings, the dialog behind "Settings/Configure Editor" will offer plenty of options designed to provide comfort during the work.
However, it is Kile's numerous editing features specifically for LaTeX typesetting that had attracted its large army of fans in the first place. These include help for quick navigation around the current LaTeX document, indexing, cross-referencing, adding graphics and working with bibliography entries. To spoil the users (and save them from laborious typing) every time when the beginning of a new command is recognized in the input file, Kile's editor will bring a list of all matching LaTeX commands for auto-completion. Needless to say, the entire list of all standard reserved keywords can be accessed from the menu branches "LaTeX". And the menu "Wizard" will offer a time-efficient way of including the environmental block commands which define tables, mathematical equations or graphics which abound in complex technical publication.
For any new publication, Kile can kick-off the works with a comprehensive document setup dialog accessed from the menu "Wizard/Quickstart". Here, the document class (article, book, report) and basic properties (encoding, font size, default aligning for formulas, number of text columns etc.) are established, and you can choose additional packages that will be used for creating the publication. The list of supported LaTeX packages is not exhaustive in this dialog, but it will nevertheless quickly form the basic structure of the document and allow you to focus directly on creative writing. The structure of the document can be modified later at any stage to suit the final project by manually adding any other LaTeX package available from the Comprehensive TeX Archive Network (CTAN).
As an editor, Kile scores a high mark, too, when it comes to the spell checking tasks. Typically for its philosophy, it integrates external programs of which the best known in Unix/BSD/Linux world is GNU Aspell. When installed, GNU Aspell can be used as a stand-alone application. But, to deal with the LaTeX input files inside Kile, it should be set as the default program with the desired encoding and language options on the "Spelling" tab of the "Configure Kile" dialog. As for performance when working with very long documents, GNU Aspell is sufficiently fast on modern machines and, given the large dictionary behind, it serves even he most demanding writers.
Because of the complexity of the Tex and LaTeX system, the demand for constant learning is always there regardless of the level of someone's experience. Besides being able to insert LaTeX commands and reserved words from the extensive menu system, Kile also gives easy access to the documentation. Kile offers a hyperlinked index of all LaTeX environments and commands, and includes short template-style blocks of code which can be copied into the input file. Some of the help menu entries are links to local help files in span style="font-family: Courier, Monospace">/usr/share/texmf/doc, while others, such as the CTAN search engine, will be external links. To ensure that the help system is fully functional within Kile, the administrators should check after the installation that the links configuration for the help files ("Settings/Configure Kile/Help" dialog) is up to date. Thus, the help system is one of the best parts of Kile and the time spent for the familiarization with its options will certainly be rewarding.