There are a variety of ways to access LaTeX. They can be grouped into two categories:
- Online LaTeX services: create your LaTeX document in a web browser; download the final PDF when ready.
- Locally: install LaTeX software on your own desktop or laptop computer.
Both methods have their strengths and weaknesses.
Online LaTeX services:
|Access documents from any device with a web browser||Relies on good internet|
|Usually make it easier to learn LaTeX||Restricted customisability|
|Usually have easy integration with GitHub and/or Dropbox||Usually have to pay for a decent experience|
|Often come with nifty collaboration features||You have to trust a third party with your data|
|Storage, performance and security limited only by the device||You are responsible for installing and maintaining the software and any extensions/packages you use|
|Combined with Git, you will end up with backups of your work on all your devices||You are responsible for keeping your work backed up and synchronised between your devices|
|You can use and customise LaTeX however you please||You need to have permission to install LaTeX on every device where you want to use it|
|It is completely free||Realtime collaboration is usually not possible|
In practice, most people will use a hybrid approach.
It would be sensible to start by learning LaTeX in a friendly online environment. As your experience grows and you start to find the online experience too encumbered and restrictive, you will probably start to use LaTeX offline in some situations.
Combining LaTeX with a distributed versioning system such as Git tends to offsite most of the perceived disadvantage of working offline.
The LaTeX Project offers further directions for accessing both online LaTeX services and offline LaTeX installations.
Note that a wide variety of institutions (including University of Melbourne) have licences for ShareLaTeX. Although ShareLaTeX offers free accounts, people at a licensed institution who sign up with a valid email address will gain access to free account upgrades, such as infinite undo and realtime online collaboration.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License .