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Apple Pages 6.1 adds equation support using LaTeX or MathML (support.apple.com)
337 points by plg on March 27, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 61 comments

From the "which commands" link, it seems that they're using Blahtex to convert LaTeX to MathML:


Neat feature. I think I might get a lot of use out of it as a "lighter-weight" way to write up documents that include math, using the nice LaTeX syntax, while still keeping the document as a whole WYSIWYG (better for graphics and makes it easier to avoid going back afterward for a fixing-up step). Plus, I can edit from both my Mac and iPhone with automatic sync. (There are existing LaTeX apps for iOS that can do that too, but this seems to be a solid option.)

Edit2: Tried it out on iOS. Two limitations: equations can't wrap across lines, and inserting a new equation requires a few taps - not super cumbersome but enough to discourage a "fluent" style of frequently going in and out of math mode within a sentence. Still useful.

You probably now about LyX already, but I found it to be a very solid wysiwyg editor able to spit out tables, images, and formulas in plain Latex.

Who does this sort of stuff on their iPhone really? Even when they want to demonstrate a nice feature of an app that was originally for Mac, they show it on an iPhone...

It's a shame that Mac is getting forgotten :(

It's also available in the Mac version of Pages.


ETA: link

I know it's available on Mac too. But why use an iPhone image (in the link)? I mean, isn't this sort of stuff originally for Mac?

Doing one thing better and a thousand things worse does not make the product a worthy alternative in most use cases.

At the very least, TeXmacs is ideal for doing math assignments.


I use Dropbox Paper to take math notes, and it works great with math formulas and Latex support. You get sharable Paper documents, downloadable as MS Word docs and Dropbox paper overall feels light, fast and minimalistic.

The only thing I'd improve about Paper's Latex support is to add some autocomplete features that make it faster to type out Latex and a couple of minor bugs, like the incomplete Latex disappearing when you switch tabs.

Wow. I did not read this carefully enough the first time: https://www.dropbox.com/en/help/9173

I had no idea that Dropbox Paper supported Latex until reading your comment. That makes Paper even more awesome.

I'm intrigued by how you take math notes with paper. Would it be possible to see an example (as a pdf, doc, whatever)?

You might also want to give Overleaf[1] a try if you're interested using LaTeX in a more WYSIWYG style -- we have a rich text mode[2] (currently in beta) that parses the LaTeX and presents it in a way that's more familiar for non-LaTeX users, which makes it particularly handy for collaborations. Of course, you can always edit the underlying LaTeX directly if you prefer :)

I'm one of the founders of Overleaf, so if you have any questions (or if you use it and have any feedback), please let me know -- it's always appreciated, thanks.

[1] https://www.overleaf.com

[2] https://www.overleaf.com/blog/81

I used overleaf to collaborate with my group in my Discrete mathematics class last semester. The other collaborators didn't even have to create an account. It was super useful. Thanks for the great app!

I hope this is in the latest Keynote or coming very soon - it's my biggest issue right now when prepping slides for my classes.

I don't my think it is in the latest Keynote, but you _can_ copy equations in Pages and paste them into Keynote (and Numbers)

From limited testing, it looks you can round-trip them, too: if you copy an equation in Keynote and paste it back into Pages, you get an equation that you can edit.

So, it seems it shouldn't be hard to add this to Keynote.

I found that using the LaTeXiT app that comes with the MacTex distribution is pretty easy; it offers drag-and-drop of an image into Keynote / Pages.

Perhaps more important is the ability to drag-and-drop a rendered equation from Keynote back to LaTeXiT and still be able to edit it. Pleasantly surprised when I discovered this feature.

I did not know this! Fantastic. Thanks a lot.

Ditto! This has been my workflow for a couple years now. LaTeXit is great. Almost completely replaced Beamer for me. However, if the integration is good, and I could do it all in Keynote, it would be even better.

Whoa, that would be a real game changer. It gives one hope that the Mac will be seen again as a "pro" platform.

But realistically speaking, I think they're just doing it because Word supports LaTeX syntax already.

I think if that were the reason they would have done it 10 years ago, when Word 2007 introduced that feature.

Looks nice. Any decent equivalent for Windows?

I'd for sure consider dropping Beamer if this happened.

I'm dying for this feature. Beamer is great until you want to include a video, then your life fills with pain.

In my dreamlife, Apple decides to support the LibreOffice format and uses that as the default for the Pages, Keynote, and Numbers formats. For features that they need added to support features, they propose them to the standards body.

That way they become the best editor of a free format. I can't ever see them going head-to-head with Microsoft so this would really open up their marketshare.

I'm looking forward to the day when browsers support LaTeX content without any special plugins or libraries. Until then I use server-side MathJax to support my site's technical pages. MathJax is a terrific piece of software, but its popularity is an implicit argument for a generic browser feature that does the same thing.

If that became the norm, I could switch to LaTeX right now and HN readers would see a result any mathematically literate person would hope for.

For a while Reddit supported a plugin that rendered LaTeX by way of an external server called "CodeCogs." Eventually CodeCogs realized they were being exploited with no compensating gain, so they blocked all Reddit accesses.

Here's a concise definition of pi --

\displaystyle \pi = 2 \int_{-1}^1 \sqrt{1-x^2} dx

-- I mean, if only you could see it. Here's how e is formally defined:

\displaystyle e = \lim_{n\to\infty} (1+\frac{1}{n})^n

I've been suggesting this for longer than I can remember. Meanwhile, here's my online LaTeX editor:


> I'm looking forward to the day when browsers support LaTeX content without any special plugins or libraries.

As a mathematician who appreciates cheap'n'easy (pseudo-)LaTeX availability on, for example, MathOverflow, I totally disagree with this. Browsers are big enough already. It's easy for me to install the libraries to view what I need; why make everyone else pay the cost for it? (My argument is inherently selfish: I don't want other content specialists to insist that my browser have built-in capabilities to deal with all their professional needs.)

Fair enough, your position has merit -- browsers really are very large, getting larger, and not in a way that necessarily benefits the average user. My website uses MathJax on the server side to get around this problem (example: https://arachnoid.com/NormalDistribution/), most publishers of mathematical content can use this approach.

And for discussion fora, as you mention, users can install a plugin to make Latex render correctly in this specialized environment.

> ... why make everyone else pay the cost for it?

I agree, I should have thought through my earlier position more carefully.

Reminds me of a cooked-in version of LaTeXiT [1], a utility I find invaluable when it comes to combining figure drawing (e.g., with OmniGraffle) and LaTeX annotations of arbitrary complexity.

[1] http://chachatelier.fr/latexit

What does "cooked-in" mean in this context. Never heard of this expression before ;)

Would suggest that the more common idiom is 'baked in'

It's part of the main program, not an extra or add-on. (Just as a flavoring can be cooked as part of a dish rather than be added as an extra topping.)

Built-in instead of third-party.

Slightly offtopic, but for everyone interested please also check out Typora https://www.typora.io/ . Such a great Markdown editor with support of TeX inline blocks.

Honestly I'm more excited about the ability to replace all fonts in a document - especially in keynote. You have no idea how often I get a presentation to deliver or tweak that has 7 different Arial and Helvetica-like fonts in it, because each person that wrote slides for it used a different font. Drives me batty!

This problem has been solved through the use of style sheets. Just define a single paragraph style and apply it everywhere. Unfortunately most people didn't seem to know this feature.

99% of keynote isn't made up of paragraphs though. You've got 9 types of titles, eleventy hundred bullet poont types, and various other headings styles.

Setting that aside, it's the 'apply it everywhere' part that blows when you have slides dragged in to one preso from a dozen different authors, some of whom use fonts that you do t even have.

Does anybody know what they’re using to render the equations? I know that WebKit has MathML support, so maybe they’re using parts of that codebase? It would be neat if they released some APIs in iOS/macOS.

I think its MathML webkit rendering, with the LaTex being translated to MathML

They've had this support out for iBooks Author for at least a year, and I'm sure you're right about using WebKit. Adding it to iOS is a pretty nice feature though.

The best thing about this is that it's an admission that some aspects of a document are better when authored as plain text.

Now, I'm of the opinion that this is actually true of the entire document, especially when it's a book. This is why we're creating Markua as an open spec: https://leanpub.com/markua/read

A great tool I love has this too [0]. They're an improvement over Workflowy which includes LaTeX support among other things.

I'm a very happy paying user of it although I do not use the LaTeX features very often yet I have some finance notes I took in Emacs which transferred over pretty well.

[0]: http://dynalist.io/

Note: desktop version requires 10.12 (Sierra) or later.

Looks like the end of my days as a Mac user is in sight. Apple does not support 10.12 on either of my desktop Macs (2008 Mac Pro and 2009 Mac Pro), and I don't see anything in their current desktop lineup that is an acceptable replacement.

Authorea fully supports LaTeX and MathML with a WYSIWYG interface like GDocs, Paper, or Word.


Is LaTeX support going to come to Messages?

I'm interested in the new real-time stock quotes available in Numbers. Anybody tried to use that feature?

Just tried it and seems to work nicely. Looks like $AAPL partnered with Yahoo for the data. I wish Apple would get into the finance game. Google Finance and Yahoo Finance are really not very good.


re https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT202501

What do \lvertneq, \gvertneq do? I can't find an online reference for them

doesn't work on online version of Pages (iCloud), no way to insert an equation

equations created on desktop version show up in online-version as low-res jaggedy bitmaps, un-editable and un-pretty

so much for vertically integrated "just works" approach


The collaboration through iCloud stuff is great for the features it supports, but it seems to be very much beta at the moment.

latex in a document editor, holy smokes batman, how do they come up with these crazy ideas!

Is it still using a proprietary format that isn't documented and nothing else can read; so that there is no such thing as "one day I decided to use something different and still want to read my documents"?

The file is a zip and contains a PDF of the full document in case that happens.

I believe both Scribus and LibreOffice have had ways of doing embeded LaTeX for at least 10 years.

Sigh... people just don't get good software design. Doesn't matter how meany features your software has if it sucks. Better with less but properly implemented features.

Sorry but you got to suffer Stockholm Syndrome or possibly only used MS Word if you think LibreOffice is nice to use. Try doing any kind of layout work in both LibreOffice and Apple Pages, and tell me with a straight face that you prefer LibreOffice.

I don't use word processors a lot. I usually write using Ulysses and sometimes LaTeX, but if I need a word processor it is because I need a lot of visual control which you don't get when writing latex or markdown. Pages is awesome in this regard, while LibreOffice frankly has little of interest.

Both LibreOffice and Scribus are stuck in the Windows98 era user interface paradigm and haven't moved onwards. A lot has happened since then.

It is an unfortunate sad reality of open source software. One just ads one feature after the other indefinitely with little attention to detail or overall design and usability.

Here is a little anecdote. A colleague struggled with figuring out how to do something in Excel. Software he had used casually for years. I suggested, try Numbers instead. He had no experience with it. But I knew that it has way better thought out UI. In 3 minutes he had figured out how to do what he had wanted, after wasting and hour trying to figure out how to do it in Excel. That is what good UI design means. Features are pointless if people can't use them.

> Features are pointless if people can't use them.

Recently I watched a Microsoft presentation where they state that the many developers keep asking for features that are actually already in Visual Studio for several versions.

One case where they tried to improve this was to make a little clickable arrow on VS 2017 to make "run to cursor" more visible, a feature that is there almost since the early days, but requires the use of toolbar or context menu.

It's nice to add Pages to the list of word processors with Latex support.

Which I could not care less about, because I don't use. So?

Took them only like what - 10 years? Better late then never I suppose.

The older version of the iWork apps (which they eventually abandoned in favor of unifying the Mac and iOS versions) used to support LaTeX and MathML via an external 3rd party app. Circa 2010-ish I think

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