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vLaTeX - Math parsing with LaTeX Details »
vLaTeX - Math parsing with LaTeX
Mod Version: 0.5.2, by Pod (Coder) Pod is offline
Developer Last Online: Aug 2019 I like it Show Printable Version Email this Page

vB Version: 4.2.x Rating: (13 votes - 4.69 average) Installs: 52
Released: 20 Dec 2009 Last Update: 16 Dec 2012 Downloads: 372
Not Supported Uses Plugins Auto-Template Additional Files Re-usable Code Translations Is in Beta Stage  

vLaTeX allows your users to include mathematical equations written in LaTeX into their posts, rendered in high quality graphic files (either png or gif). Such ability is instrumental in scientific or educational oriented forums. When I started in vb two years ago, there ware a number of solutions available, but none of them suited my needs completely, so I developed my own integration between (a modified version of) Benjamin Zeiss' LatexRender and vBulletin. With the new vBulletin 4.0, I decided to improve some of the features of this product, and to release it with the hope that it turns out to be useful to any of you.


What is LaTeX?

LaTeX is a set of macros for the TeX typesetting system. It is the defacto standard of communication within the scientific and mathematical community. It works pretty much like a programing language: you write a text source file, and the latex executable compiles it in a DeVice Independent file (DVI), which can be later converted to the desired format (postscript, pdf, etc.).

This mod (thanks to a modified version of the LatexRender class) does all this work in the background. It takes the formula code, inserts it in a source file, compiles it and converts the output in a high quality image file (png or gif, depends on your settings) to show in the post.


Requirements

This mod relies on your server having available the following external programs. They are pretty standard in most Linux distributions, so hosts can install them easily (if they want to, some don't). Please, check your server meets this requirements (or ask your host to install the programs) before trying to use vLaTeX:

- latex: the LaTeX compiler. Check the TeX live distribution (http://www.tug.org/texlive/).

- dvips: converts the DVI file to PS. Usually included in all latex distributions.

- convert: as it name suggests, converts between a large number of graphic files. Belongs to the ImageMagick package. Needs ghostscript.

- identify: among other things, measures the size of image files. Also belongs to ImageMagick

- Ghostscript: PostScript and PDF language interpreter and previewer. Is called by convert in order to handle ps files.


Features

Creates a new BBcode, usually [TEX] (thought the tag name is configurable via the admin cp), which contents are processed thought LaTeX to generate image files. There are four calling modes:

- [TEX]E= mc^2[/TEX] in-line mode. The image is included in the middle of the text, without line breaks. It tries to adjust the baseline of the formula by adjusting the vertical-align CSS property; the results aren't always perfect, but it does its best.

- [TEX=null]E = m c^2[/TEX] displayed mode: The formula is displayed (usually centered) between two paragraphs.

- [TEX=*]E = m c^2[/TEX] auto-numbering mode: The formula is displayed (usually centered), and numbered.
NOTE: The auto-numbering depends on the CSS counter system, so some old browsers (most notably ie 7 and older) will show these equations untagged, like [TEX=null]. Don't blame me, blame non-standard compilant browsers.

- [TEX=tag]E = m c^2[/TEX] displayed with tag: The formula is displayed (usually centered) between two paragraphs, and tagged with the specific tag.

In the last two modes, the tags are displayed at the right (left if you use RTL) between brackets, in a (configurable) color.

The formulas are compiled by creating a small tex file and running the native LaTeX program throughout it. You can choose to wrap the formula with the standard dollar ($ ... $), the align or gather amsTeX environments. The standard dollar is recommended since the baseline hack works better with it, but the gather environment allows to create multiline equations using the \\ separator.

This mod also introduces a second BBcode, [EQREF]tag[/EQREF], which outputs (tag), with the same style of the equation tags. It's useful to let users make reference their formulas.

A double click on the image of a generated image will open a pop-up displaying the LaTeX source code used to generate the formula.

Menu with Common used LaTeX commands can be shown below the advanced mode editor. The admin can customize the commands of the menu thought the admin control panel.


Admin features

Image files are cached, so every unique formula is only processed once.

Fully configurable via Style Variables and templates. It is also fully phrased.

It doesn't change any vb default template, so upgrading should be easy.

Includes a list of blacklisted latex commands for security (configurable in the admin cp).

The admin can customize the preamble of the latex file in the admin cp. This is useful to define new commands that your community uses often, or to include packages.

Error messages can be customized in the phrase system.

Memory usage of ImageMagick commands (convert and identify) can be limited in the admin control panel.


Installation / Upgrade

1.- Unzip the mod files.

2.- Upload the vLaTeX directory to your forum root. The generated folder structure should look like this:

vLaTeX/
vLaTeX/index.htm
vLaTeX/class_vlatex.php
vLaTeX/functions_vlatex.php
vLaTeX/vlatex.js
vLaTeX/pics/
vLaTeX/pics/index.htm
vLaTeX/temp/
vLaTeX/temp/index.htm

3.- Change the permissions of the pics and temp folders so the web server can write on them.

4.- Import the product XML in your admin control panel. If you're upgrading, set "Allow Overwrite" to yes.

5.- Go to Admin CP > Settings > Options > vLaTeX - Math Parsing

6.- Make sure the path to latex, dvips, convert and identify executables is correct. Those settings default to the most common values in most linux distributions, but every host is a different world.
If you have shell access, you can check the location of the executables with the following commands:
which latex
which dvips
which convert
which identify

7.- Make sure the path to the Images and Temporal directory are correct. You can change them if you don't like the default value, but the directories must exist and the server must have permissions to write on them.
For extra safety, you could move the temp folder out of the public accessible directory three, thought it should not be needed, since files are deleted in matter of milliseconds.

8.- Set the rest of options as you wish.

9.- Test the product in some posts.

10.- If you wish to add a button in the advanced editor tool-bar for this mod, you can add it using the admin cp section Custom BB Codes (write anything you want in Replacement, this mod will overwrite it). You can use any tex icon, for instance http://www.iconfinder.com/icondetails/3780/16/tex_icon


Error messages

The LaTeX parsing can fail for a number of reasons. In such case, an error message is displayed instead of the formula. Here's a list of all possible error messages and their meaning:

- "Image too big {1}, max {2}x{3}", The resulting image is bigger than the allowed dimensions.

- "Blacklisted command", The user attempted to compile a formula with a forbidden command.

- "Can't move image", Image formula could be created, but I could not be moved to the destination folder. Check that the directory exists and has write permissions.

- "Convert failed", Formula could be compiled, but could not be converted to png/gif. Check the convert program path.

- "Compile failed", The formula could not be compiled. Check that the temporal directory has write permissions and that the latex path is correct.

- "Code too long, max. {1} characters", The formula code was too long. The maximum length can be configured in the admincp.

- "Formula not found", The compilation and convert process appeared to not raise any error, but the image was not found on the destination folder. Check for permissions in the destination folder and/or IO errors.

- "Pictures directory unwritable", The destination folder does not exist, or has no write permissions.

- "Temp. dir unwritable", The temporal folder does not exist, or has no write permissions.

- "Unknown error", Any other error condition.


Disclaimer

This mod is in beta phase, if you find bugs, please tell me how to reproduce them so I can improve it. It is distributed as is, with the hope that it is useful for someone, but without any warranty. Nor will I accept any responsibility or liability if it doesn't work as expected, or even if it breaks something.
This mod is mainly developed for personal usage. I will listen to good ideas, but I can't guaranty that I will be implemented requested features.


License

This mod is distributed under the LGPL.(http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/lesser.html). As is, you can freely distribute it or any derivative work provided that: 1) you acknowledge the work of the previous coders (like myself and Zeiss), 2) you release it under the same license (or GPL).



Acknowledgments

This mod (in particular, the class_vlatex.php file) is strongly based on the LatexRender class by Benjamin Zeiss (http://www.mayer.dial.pipex.com/tex.htm).

The baseline hack by the work of Maarten Sneep (http://mactextoolbox.sourceforge.net.../baseline.html).


Compatibility

The last version of this mod (0.5.1) requires vb4.2.0 or higher. It should work on previous CKEditor versions, but it was not tested.

If you wish to use it in a pre-CKEditor vb installation, you can use the previous vLaTeX version (0.4.1). If you want to use it in an older vb4.0.x release, you can download version 0.3 (which is compatible with vb4.0.1 or higher). Take into account that old versions of this hack have less features and might have some issues fixed in later versions.

Support will be given only for the last version of this mod.



History

2009 / 12 / 19 - First (beta) release

2009 / 12 / 20 - version 0.2
Fixed baseline problem of in-line formulas in CMS articles.
Improved error handling.
Included Spanish translation

2010 / 1 / 24 - version 0.3 (requires vb4.0.1)
Fixed extra space after in-line equations.
Won't break down if vb's CSS is stored as files.
New pop-up showing the formula source code upon double-click.

2010 / 7 / 23 - version 0.4 (requires vb4.0.4)
Improved support for CSS stored as files.
Fixed bug of js file not being loaded on certain servers.
Menu with common LaTeX commands under vb's advanced editors.
Equations will no longer be break by preview in blogs or CMS articles.

2010 / 4 / 24 - version 0.4.1 (requires vb4.0.4)
Improved compatibility of the Common Commands quick-menu with IE browser.

2012 / 12 / 07 - version 0.5.1 (requires vb4.2.0)
CKEditor support.
Memory limit for imagemagick commands.
Code pop-up now can overflow postbit boundary.

2012 / 12 / 17 - version 0.5.2 (requires vb4.2.0)
Introduced Formula Wrapper option.

Download Now

Only licensed members can download files, Click Here for more information.

Screenshots

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  #151  
Old 08 Mar 2017, 13:49
fsrmw_tudd fsrmw_tudd is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
When I'm trying this mod with the gather environment, I get the "Convert failed" error on the snippets where I'm using "\\" "\newline".
Single line formulas do work without any error.

Is there a solution for the multiline functionality or a better workaround than using multiple tex-fields?


vb 4.2.3 PL2

Last edited by fsrmw_tudd; 08 Mar 2017 at 14:17.
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  #152  
Old 08 Mar 2017, 13:52
emath emath is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Originally Posted by fsrmw_tudd View Post
When I'm trying this mod with the gather environment, I get the "Convert failed" error on the snippets where I'm using "" "\newline".
Single line formulas do work without any error.

Is there a solution for the multiline functionality or a better workaround than using multiple tex-fields?
might be that this command does not exist, try \\ instead.

anyway, I would use MathJax instead, there is no need for this plugin anymore. mathjax is gr8 ! (being used in mathstack as well )
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  #153  
Old 08 Mar 2017, 14:16
fsrmw_tudd fsrmw_tudd is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
I wrote \\ the first set of quotation marks (where did it go? ).

As I tried to write a new formula with no line break it also went "Convert failed". So I guess, the gather doesn't work at all and it was bad luck that I had an already compiled picture of the single line equation.
I edited a post where the \\ did not do anything and changed the settings from $ formula $ to gather.
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  #154  
Old 08 Mar 2017, 14:26
MarkFL's Avatar
MarkFL MarkFL is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Real name: Mark
I second the opinion that MathJax works very well...we use it at MHB too. If you want to get started with that, try this product:

LaTeX By MathJax [v1.2]
__________________
Former vBulletin.org Staff Member



Support for my products (as well as updates/new product publishing) has been moved to MHB - vBulletin Products and TAZ - Add-ons
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  #155  
Old 08 Mar 2017, 14:27
Pod Pod is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Originally Posted by fsrmw_tudd View Post
When I'm trying this mod with the gather environment, I get the "Convert failed" error on the snippets where I'm using "\" "\newline".
Single line formulas do work without any error.

Is there a solution for the multiline functionality or a better workaround than using multiple tex-fields?


vb 4.2.3 PL2
First, you should use the "gathered" environment, not the "gather" one. The "gather" cannot be used inside math mode. Note that this plugin compiles your formula directly in math mode.

Also, make sure that \usepackage{amsmath} is included in the preamble (in your admin panel).

Originally Posted by emath View Post
anyway, I would use MathJax instead, there is no need for this plugin anymore. mathjax is gr8 ! (being used in mathstack as well )
I strongly recommend KaTeX over MathJax (even tho both are great).

In fact, if I ever consider updating this plugin, I'd make it KaTeX based with server-side latex (converted to SVG instead of PNG) as fallback for full compatibility with desktop LaTeX.

I believe that server-side and client-side LaTeX have pros and cons, so both of them still have room nowadays.
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  #156  
Old 08 Mar 2017, 14:43
fsrmw_tudd fsrmw_tudd is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Originally Posted by Pod View Post
First, you should use the "gathered" environment, not the "gather" one. The "gather" cannot be used inside math mode. Note that this plugin compiles your formula directly in math mode.
I was referring to the options of this mod in the admin panel.

---

Due to security regulations I am not allowed to have things running on a server outside the university network.
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  #157  
Old 08 Mar 2017, 14:56
Pod Pod is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Originally Posted by fsrmw_tudd View Post
I was referring to the options of this mod in the admin panel.

---

Due to security regulations I am not allowed to have things running on a server outside the university network.
You don't need any software running anywhere except where your forum is hosted.

Please find attached an example of a multi-line equation compiled with this mod. Note that I'm using the gathered environment, not simple gather. It will work if you have LaTeX correctly configured and the amsmath package is listed in the preamble (it is by default when you install the product).
Attached Images
File Type: png Captura.PNG (38.3 KB, 4 views)

Last edited by Pod; 08 Mar 2017 at 14:57. Reason: Forgot to attach...
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  #158  
Old 08 Mar 2017, 15:31
fsrmw_tudd fsrmw_tudd is offline
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Well, I have a bunch of old posts with the syntax
Block Disabled:      (Update License Status)  
Suspended or Unlicensed Members Cannot View Code.

from a 10 years old database here and don't want to cannot rewrite that.

I hoped that the settings option within the mod would do the trick since you declared it as a feature.
The formulas are compiled by creating a small tex file and running the native LaTeX program throughout it. You can choose to wrap the formula with the standard dollar ($ ... $), the align or gather amsTeX environments. The standard dollar is recommended since the baseline hack works better with it, but the gather environment allows to create multiline equations using the \\ separator.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg vlatex.jpg (24.2 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg latex tutorial.jpg (55.6 KB, 2 views)
File Type: jpg latex tutorial with begin{gather].jpg (53.8 KB, 2 views)
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  #159  
Old 08 Mar 2017, 16:25
Pod Pod is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Originally Posted by fsrmw_tudd View Post
Well, I have a bunch of old posts with the syntax
Block Disabled:      (Update License Status)  
Suspended or Unlicensed Members Cannot View Code.

from a 10 years old database here and don't want to cannot rewrite that.

I hoped that the settings option within the mod would do the trick since you declared it as a feature.
Thanks for the image. Now I understand what you mean.

I see that you merge text and equations inside your [latex] tags. This is not how this mod is designed. This mod assumes that everything you put inside the tags is in math mode, and everything is converted to a single image.

I don't know what system you used to parse your old syntax, but I'd argue that this is not a suitable approach: in a forum, the text should be written using the editor of the forum, and use latex only for the equations.

Anyhow, the syntax of your old system is basically incompatible with this mod.

It could be easy to modify the mod so it doesn't wrap the contents of the tag in a math environment, but I'm not sure how that'd work. The system would generate a "normal" latex file that would have pretty much the width of a printed page.

If you give me more details on the system you have been using for the last 10 years, then I could try to give you some alternative. It is probably not this mod, since as I said, its design seems to differ from your syntax.
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