[racket] Scribble and/or Latex?

From: Prabhakar Ragde (plragde at uwaterloo.ca)
Date: Fri Aug 30 13:35:24 EDT 2013

Dave wrote:

> I'm an apprenticing high school math teacher looking for a
> documentation tool for use in preparing lesson plans and class
> presentations. I've been advised to use Latex.  But as a former
> HtDP'er, I've been looking for an excuse to get back into Racket, and
> I thought learning Scribble might be a good route to take.  I've
> poked through the docs a bit, and can't find any reference on math
> typesetting.  Can that be done in Scribble?  Or is Scribble not the
> right tool, and should I commit my learning efforts to Latex?  Or
> both?

I have been typesetting lecture slides (PDF) and lecture summaries 
(HTML) using Scribble and using math. Rendering to PDF goes through 
LaTeX, so its math capabilities are theoretically accessible, but this 
involves not only knowing how to write math in LaTeX but how to convince 
the rendering engine to produce the right LaTeX macros. To display the 
math equations in a browser, I use MathJax, which can handle LaTeX math. 
Jens Axel Søgaard has gisted my code here (very short):


If you use this code, you still have to learn LaTeX math, which I would 
advise anyway. You probably should learn first using a text editor and 
invoking LaTeX on the command line, because if you make a mistake using 
my code, you get a horrific amount of LaTeX error output in DrRacket's 
Interactions window (this is the Scribble renderer's way of dealing with 
backend problems). After a couple of decades of Emacs/LaTeX I am quite 
enjoying writing things up in DrRacket using Scribble. If I could clone 
myself, I'd set one of the clones to replacing the LaTeX backend, or at 
least making the process more friendly.

I think there is scope here for using DrRacket to have students write up 
math using Scribble. They can edit easily and you can view easily after 
they submit their Scribble files to you. MathJax does not show a 
horrific amount of error text; it just fails silently. So if they make 
mistakes in their math, their formula simply won't show in the browser 
when they hit the "Scribble HTML" button in DrRacket, and they will have 
to figure out why by trial and error. But if they are already using 
DrRacket, the only additional thing they need is a bit of Scribble 
boilerplate. --PR

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