iTeX contents and Links

  • Various translation reports, including:
  • Recent document translation information.
  • Project Guitenberg LaTeX source files, automatic- and hand-generated.
  • Analysis of recent translations (under construction).
  • The iPad app is free, in the iTunes app store.
  • There is an yahoo group tex-itex, for discussions of this program and related issues. It appears to be moribund at the moment.
  • The iTeX paper (raw TeX), (8.5x11 PDF), and, of course (iTeX). This is now somewhat dated, but gives a good overall view.
  • Current status, by revision

    (6 July 2014) iTeX continues to be broken in several ways. For my few remaining users, I apologize. iOS 7 broke a number of things, and I have only fixed them in the past weeks. Also, Project Gutenberg lost its index for a while. arXiv seems to continue to work.

    PG is fixed, and I am cleaning up a few sore spots, and a much more functional version of iTeX will be submitted to the iTunes store shortly. Just a couple more bugs...

    (20 Sept 2013) Well, I've just discovered that iTeX has been broken for a while. I got distracted, and left disabiling debugging code in the server. I apologize.

    I have been hard at work on Version 2, which includes a generalized PDF reader. It is an opportunity to try some ideas to make a cleaner version than the stuff out there. It works, mostly, but is not ready for production.

    The bad news is that there are some point mods I have to make for IOS7, where iTeX doesn't quite work at the moment. I plan to clean up some stuff and submit the app in the next week: better a slightly buggy new version than a non-functional one.

    (16 August 2013) I have restarted improvements on iTeX. My aim is to make the next version a pretty darn good pdf reader as well as its usual itex display function. There are a lot of changes, and it is not stable yet. I hope to release it in the next month.

    The new version includes jumping to footnotes, references, web pages, etc., with a document able to have a number of bookmarks. To do this, I need to have properly annotated PDFs. This means generating documents with hyperref. I am currently rebuilding some 800 arXiv documents already translated to iTeX, with hyperref stuff turned on. This should not have an effect until the next version is released.

    Also coming up: text search in documents, which is surprisingly kludgy in PDF documents. It will be buggy, but I have already found it to be useful.

    I am collecting PDF wish-list items from various researchers, and hope to include the good stuff. I find tools like goodreader to be complex, overly festooned with features of dubious value, and it seems to make it slower to do the common stuff.

    February 7, 2013

    iTeX verson 1.6, coming soon:

    arXiv: The iTeX translation server is now doing a credible job on more than 90% of the arXiv documents it tries. The two most common failures:

    Project Gutenberg: LaTeX versions of the original files are now used when available from PG. This especially includes a number of math and physic texts and lectures.

    At the moment, I am watching for translation problems on almost a daily basis. If one of your translations fails, it is possible that it is fixed in the following day or so. You can follow my efforts in the translation log, mentioned above.

    January 2013, version 1.5.

    16 June 2012, in the store, iTeX 1.4:


    TeX and other traditional text layout markup languages are predicated on the assumption that the final output format would be known to the nanometer. Extensive computation and clever algorithms let us optimize the presentation for a high standard of quality, designed by artists who are experts at document layout.

    Book readers offer a new way to store and read documents, but they are a challenge to high quality text layout. Ebook users are accustomed to selecting reader orientation, typeface, and font size. We probably cannot run TeX over a document every time a reader shifts position in his chair.

    iTeX is an experimental document bundle format and a free iPad application that present documents exactly as they were rendered by LaTeX. The bundle (a tar of a standardized directory structure) contains precomputed page images for portrait and landscape layouts, in standard and large type versions. I hope this may be a suitable standard to encourage similar applications on devices like the Nook or the many versions of the Kindle, included in the same bundle.

    The iTeX app is available for the iPad at no charge from the iTunes store.

    How to Use iTeX

    iTeX reads iTeX bundles, which are tar bundles of directories prepared in a special layout. If you have loaded the app, and tap on an iTeX bundle link on the Internet, the app will download and display the document.

    Of course, iTeX is quite new and not widely adopted (yet: one can hope!) So, to try it out, you need to either generate your own bundle from an existing LaTeX document, or you can try the iTeX document translation service.

    The app gives web access to Project Gutenberg and You can select a document from either library, and iTeX will attempt to translate it for you to a bundle. This works quite well with Project Gutenberg books; it only works for about half of the scientific documents on arXiv, according to my tests. But when it does, you get a nicely-formatted LaTeX output for exactly the iPad's size and resolution.

    In principle, automatic translations of TeX and LaTeX documents require human intervention. Don Knuth is quite adamant about this, and he is right. Really good formatting requires human judgment, and even some rewriting of the text.

    But this service is an adequate starting point. I will be making the generated LaTeX documents available for download. Perhaps someone will clean up the results.

    Project Gutenberg

    The library browser opens up the PG web page. Find the desired document and tap it. You will go to the translation page and, if the translation works, a button to download it will appear.

    ArXiv documents are a little trickier, in a couple ways: they are harder to translate automatically, and one has to tap on the right download option. The option to select is download, and then then Download source field. I think I know how to simplify this. If so, it will be in the next release.

    Privacy Note

    I monitor the translation service to try to get the bugs out and give better results. But I do not record any information about the source of the translation requests, or the bundle downloads.

    Getting Started

    A quick start guide is available at the beginning of this bundle generation guide. It contains some boilerplate that will help you generate an iTeX bundle quickly from an exisiting LaTeX document of your own.

    Though a well-formatted TeX or LaTeX document requires the human touch, scripts can often generate plausibly good documents automatically. Scripts and more complete documentation are available if you wish to dive in further.

    Wish List

    iTeX works pretty well, I have read dozens of documents and a number of books with it. But it certainly isn't full-featured compared to the commercial readers. This is party due to staffing limitations: I am one part-time person, versus entire development teams.

    There are also some deep technical difficulties. The strength of this approach is that the document is fully documented and the final version is available to the author and document designer. The difficulty is that the supplied page images lack a lot of data needs for functions that, say, need to know the location of a word that can be looked up, defined, copied, etc. TeX, and hence LaTeX, does not easily support hooks that work at the word level, which means any solution is likely to be a kludge.

    But there are a number of features it should and will have, if the world seems interested.


    I welcome comments, bug fixes, etc.:
    Bill Cheswick
    ches at

    Last modified: January 2013