#103 Split screen preview


Veli Peltola (velipeltola) describes a feature about instant
previewing the resulting document. It is interesting, but
not so important as the development cycle using YAP is
fast enough. Anyway:

What would you think of the ability to split the
screen, and show both the code and the resulting PDF
with Acrobat Reader at the same time? Please see the
attached "faked" screenshot to see what I have in mind.

Why this feature? The idea is to simplify the
development cycle. Everything would be updated by just
pressing the build key, and the author could very
easily compare the code and the output.

Why not just use separate windows? It's troublesome to
do this manually. You'd have to resize and place the
windows in the beginning, bring both programs to front
when returning from other programs and resize both
windows to adjust the splitting point. Some space is
wasted for extra titlebars and menus. Also, Acrobat
locks the opened file, so you have to close it yourself
every time before running PDFLaTeX.

Technical ideas

The viewer needs some kind of a container. I think it
could use the same mechanism as the Navigator Bar and
Output Bar. This would take care of the splitting and
other positioning. "Preview Bar" or something like that?

Browsers communicate with Acrobat Reader using
nppdf32.dll, but Adobe has no public documentation for
this. However, we could just add a WebBrowser control,
which knows how to communicate with all versions of
Acrobat Reader. There is a small overhead, but I think
it might not be so bad. The WebBrowser is probably
loaded anyway. This also solves the file locking
problem. Acrobat Reader doesn't lock a file when it's
used as a browser plugin. Using the WebBrowser could
also have other uses. For example, a previewer for
"LaTeX => HTML" output profile.

Implementing this feature would require:

- A new "Bar" with just WebBrowser control in it.
- A way to choose this previewer as the selected viewer
in output profiles.
- Opening the previewer automatically after a
(succesful?) build, like the Output Bar.
- Possibly an option to keep the Output bar closed (at
least on succesful builds) to save precious screen space.

Potential problems

Could the previewer remember its position in the file
when refreshing? Is it possible to have DVI style
search features in PDFs? What about other PDF viewers
than Acrobat, or people who don't have the Explorer
plugin installed. And of course, would this feature be
possible for DVI files, and how?


  • Tino Weinkauf

    Tino Weinkauf - 2003-11-30

    A "faked" screenshot of split screen preview

  • Tino Weinkauf

    Tino Weinkauf - 2003-11-30

    Logged In: YES

    Another idea: Just show the selected block of text in the
    preview, for example an equation.

  • Tino Weinkauf

    Tino Weinkauf - 2012-02-01
    • status: open --> closed


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