Numerous times throughout my life I have wanted to write a book. I even have several manuscripts on my computer in various stages of completion. During the last month, I decided to try again. Step one was to decide what I wanted to write about. So, I selected about 10 topics and chose one for my first book. Step two, determine what tool I would use to write my book. A variety of software applications are available including Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, and Adobe InDesign. But one of my requirements is that the format be text-based so that I can easily store the document as well as the history in my Git repository.  Initially, I thought that Markdown would be a great format – text-based, easy to store in a source repository, and no special software required. However, after a short amount of work, I realized that Markdown didn’t really support the things I would want for writing. The first issue was with inadequate support for page layouts including images. Other issues followed, and I went back to the drawing board searching for a better alternative. While searching the internet, I found numerous sites recommending LaTeX. I never used LaTeX before, but I do remember seeing it referenced throughout the years on Linux systems. Could this be the answer? Does it meet my requirements? LaTeX is similar to HTML or Markdown. Character sequences can be used to indicate things like the table of contents, a chapter, a section, etc. Additional functionality can be added by using packages to fill all manner of typography needs. The files are text, and can easily be managed by a source control system and edited from any standard text editor. What about the output? I can easily run the LaTeX commands to output my document in PDF format, and I have even read that tools exist for conversion to ePub. When I add new chapters or update existing content, I can have my Jenkins server automatically build the full document and email it to me or publish in any why I choose. While I have only been tinkering with LaTeX for a short time, I have been very impressed with what I’ve been able to accomplish so far and intend to master this amazing tool to create documents and manuscripts.

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