Reflections on book writing 1: co-authorship with LaTeX

Dear friends, I’ve decided to post some reflections about book writing, which is my primary work in this period. In fact, I am writing a book about adpositional grammars for Cambridge Scholars Publishing (C-S-P) together with Marco Benini. The adpositional paradigm is my main research field of interest, so I am doing my best in actually writing it.

Me and Marco decided to write it down in LaTeX, even if C-S-P did not provide as a stylesheet for LaTeX off the shelf. Thus, we decided to write it, then we will give it to the publisher for further use.

How we manage co-authorship with LaTeX, without dealing with concurrent versioning systems, merging and other stuff? Well, we did it in a very clear and yet simple manner. First, in our main file
main.tex we put chapters each as a different included file, in the following manner:


Then, we opened a thread in Gmail for daily backup, sending one to the other only the modified files. In order everything to function properly without version conflicts, we agree to “lock” the files one of us is editing, on a daily basis.

For instance, today Marco locked the Introduction while I am editing the chapter Syntax.

This is a rather simple solution, with the great advantage not to push authors to deal with extra software and sparing time in unfocused work.

All we need is an editor (Emacs), a TeX-live installation to compile (same version), and a pair of Gmail accounts.

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