# LaTeX to HTML: PolyTeXnic and PlasTeX

I was stunned by the elegant appearance of the Tau manifesto page, for which the source is in LaTeX. The author used a home-made tool that he calls PolyTeXnic, but which he is not willing to release.

How difficult would it be to reproduce his result? I'm leaning towards using PlasTeX as the base tool.

Edit I was not referring to the contents of the Tau manifesto page :-) but rather to its general appearance: nice cross references, equations, figures, tables, cross-references to them, footnotes, bibliographical references, etc. The maths is actually what worries me the least, thanks to MathJax. I was rather thinking on all the other aspects of the document, and whether PlasTeX might be up to the task.

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It's all in the CSS. I would add a screenshot but it'd be simpler just to show you. The easy part of LaTeX-to-WebPage is converting LaTeX to (X)HTML. The hard part is making it look nice - not because of anything inherent in LaTeX but just because that's the hard part of any webpage. – Loop Space Mar 20 '12 at 9:25
Wow, I'm not sure about the tools you're asking about, but the content of that page sure is cranky! – qubyte Mar 20 '12 at 9:27
The fact that the idea originates with Bob Palais prevents me from completely agreeing with Mark, but while I can see the argument for pi not being the angle, clearly τ = π/2 and so it is the quarter circle that is the one true angle. – Loop Space Mar 20 '12 at 9:37
I don't think we should discuss \pi-or-\tau here or we will get into serious war, that is, moreover, more suited for Math.SX. For this reason, I won't include my opinion on the topic. As for the question: it's a matter of very fine tuning as @AndrewStacey has already mentioned. You may contact the author of the webpage and ask him for some advice. – yo' Mar 20 '12 at 9:54
Regarding your edit, take a look at our TeX-SX blog and in particular this article: tex.blogoverflow.com/2011/07/getting-latex-on-to-the-web/… everything that I've written on the blog has been written in LaTeX and converted. I also write nLab pages in LaTeX and convert them. If that sounds interesting, drop by and I'll show you how it's done. – Loop Space Mar 20 '12 at 16:44

Let me answer myself to myself: one of the most reliable ways to convert LaTeX into html is definitely TeX4ht, because it uses TeX as the underlying engine.

TeX4ht takes care of the cross references, the figures, footnotes, bibliography, and more. The math parts are transformed into MathML which is then beautifully rendered using MathJax.

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Certainly not the only. Perhaps the most complete (as in can cope with the most variation in input). – Loop Space Oct 10 '12 at 13:54
I meant the only reliable way (in fact, following your many comments on that topic!). Is there another package capable of coping with arbitrary custom command definitions, for instance? – Olivier Oct 10 '12 at 14:10
Sort of. Some external (ie using another language) methods work by allowing you to define custom extensions that will handle those custom command definitions. My TeX class works by using tex as the interpreter so it can handle custom stuff so long as it resolves to something sensible in the output. – Loop Space Oct 10 '12 at 15:05
@AndrewStacey what is this "TeX class" you are mentioning? I'd be very glad to stay away from TeX4ht, so if you know of another reliable method, I'd like to test it. – Olivier Oct 10 '12 at 15:20
The problem is that it isn't very reliable yet! I've been using it, but as I wrote it then I know how to work with it and its foibles. A description and a slightly old version is at math.ntnu.no/~stacey/HowDidIDoThat/LaTeX/internet.html Sometime very soon I'll put up an alpha release but there are one or two important implementation issues that I want to fix first. – Loop Space Oct 10 '12 at 15:33

It all depends on the type and length of document/html you want to produce. The http://tauday.com/tau-manifesto shows that all the maths are rendered via MathJax, which is easily incorporated in the html code. The way I see it you have two choices one:

1. If what you are aiming is as simple as the tau pages I would have done it manually via a CMS that I am comfortable with.
2. If there are many pages the PlasTeX idea is very good and it wouldn't be too difficult to adapt the style and or code to what you have in mind.

Give it a try on a page or two first.

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Obligatory warning on non-TeX converters (from the PlasTeX site): "While plasTeX makes a valiant effort to expand all LaTeX macros, it isn’t TeX and may have problems if your macros are complicated." – Loop Space Mar 20 '12 at 9:53
@AndrewStacey My honest opinion is not to use any processing here, the work will be in the CSS and and the CMS. Personally I would have done it using a Wordpress or Drupal CMS and hardcoded the code (possibly 2-3 evenings works) versus hacking code and TeX endlessly. – Yiannis Lazarides Mar 20 '12 at 10:04
I agree (see my comment on the original question). I added that comment in case anyone thought that PlasTeX (or any other TeX-to-HTML converter) were a "magic bullet" that could convert any document into a webpage. – Loop Space Mar 20 '12 at 10:15
Yiannis, would you consider the tau page as simple? There are footnotes, internal references, external references, figures, refs to figures.. is that so easy with a CMS? I should think that it would entail a significant wading through spaghetti code... Anyway, I'll give PlasTeX+tau page css a shot. – Olivier Mar 20 '12 at 14:10
@Olivier It all depends on what you want to do. In general if you are not going to have static content then a CMS is a must. The footnotes and references is not a very difficult problem for HTML + javascript, a lot of CMSs have plugins. I must sayI like the tau page style. – Yiannis Lazarides Mar 20 '12 at 14:53

In the meantime the author of the Tau manifesto page has published his homemade PolyTeX tool. Have a look at