Adding LaTeX to Notes with Ruby

February 15, 2008

I’ve finally come up with a some what novel use of ruby that is saving me a bunch of time at school, so now I’ll pass the savings on to you!

The Problem:

I want to take notes in class using my Mac. More specifically, I want to use OmniOutliner (though this method should be adaptable to any editor that can embed images). However, in more than a few computer science classes I’ve had, the mathematics get pretty heavy. And thus far summations, fractions, large equations, etc. don’t like to be typed out. They hate it. This has limited my ability to use my afore mentioned Mac as a note taking center for those classes.

So how can I still use OmniOutliner to take notes that include a large mathematical component?

The Solution:

In a word LaTeX. Let me explain.

Hopefully everyone’s familiar with LaTeX – a markup language used to format books, papers, etc. What its really good at is creating equations. The syntax is different, but not difficult, and it allows you to basically write out as complicated mathematical formula as you like in plain text. This gets converted to your actual equation using the TeX typesetting program.

I’d used LaTeX before a semester or so ago for writing up my homework for a particular class. For this, I’d installed the requisite packages via MacPorts and used the best editor of all time, TextMate, to write up the document and convert it to pdf.

But how do we add formatted LaTeX equations to a program like OmniOutliner, which doesn’t know how to parse LaTeX? Well, thats what this post is about.

conversion

More after the break.

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