The best thing about Overleaf V1 was that I could log into it without an account. This made it possible to share things with people who most likely wouldn't be big TEX users and to whom the idea of working in "code" is scary.

Now having a login, any login, is a impediment for this. If I can show them to the result and TEX markup side by side then I have a chance, however small, for them to read it and see that it's not that fancy.

So my question is is there a workable alternative to the new Overleaf? A tool that has no login requirements, so that I can directly link to the source to updating result view, with edit support for casual users coming in the first time. And with no confusing login requirements, not even ones you can circumvent.

  • It's not entirely clear to me if you want editing or just viewing, but if just viewing, then you can do that with Overleaf via the Share button. (It looks like editing should also be possible, but that didn't work for me.) Apr 28 '19 at 10:04
  • @TorbjørnT. Editing would go a long way so that users can verify that ist not so painful
    – joojaa
    Apr 28 '19 at 10:07
  • (Disclaimer: I'm part of Overleaf's support) If you turn on link sharing for your project you can send people the read-only link and they can access the project without being logged in. The edit-link needs a login, though.
    – Skillmon
    Apr 28 '19 at 12:58
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    @CarLaTeX No this is a small list of FREE online Latex Editors that is specifically opposite of the Big List of those that go against the Open Software ethos of "unrestricted"
    – user170109
    Apr 28 '19 at 14:21
  • 1
    Now (2020) it seems you can't share an overleaf document anymore to anyone, signed it or not, unless oyou take a paid plan.
    – Joce
    May 12 '20 at 20:06

Log date April 2019 (ever changing market)

Bigger players once they reach a certain point (success) do not want the headaches associated with random demo users so I will simply mention those currently failing into that category such as Overleaf, Authorea, CoCalc and Datazar. All seem to have a large enough freemium/paying customer base.

There is a separate "Big List" which includes other online products such as Google Docx2LaTeX, Verbosus and similar browser plug-ins that either require installation or handing over personal details for basic entry.

This answer (A "Small" List) is confined to current online with free access editor/compilers without a dependency on any install. Equally to be listed here there must be no mandatory registration e.g. social account for basic entry (although logins are sometimes common for "added" features / packages).

It is the smaller freemium players that are left behind trying to get a better share of the market.

Currently only a few TeX Live without registration landing page editors are still active. My fist test is will they run multiple classes such as including Beamer, without sign in.

1) Main contender, Papeeria (good spellchecking, autocomplete editor with most packages available) https://papeeria.com/ (TeX Live default 2015 but can opt to use 2016)

2) TutorialsPoint have good support for packages such as beamer but less editor features, note heavily biased towards user hitting adverts (CodingGround serving Tex Live 2016) https://www.tutorialspoint.com/online_latex_editor.php

3) uni-halle Very spartan interface but can produce beamer 10 image presentations etc. https://latex.informatik.uni-halle.de/latex-online/latex.php

4) Tex Viewer, Editor (2015+ Version Multiple UTF-8 language formats supports Beamer) https://texviewer.herokuapp.com/

5) TeXonWeb (Jan Prichystal's older 2011 Tex Live. Limited to basic (La)TeX formats but does include Beamer class) https://tex.mendelu.cz/en/

Also Ran

https://latexbase.com/ (Limited number of Main Packages e.g. `beamer.cls' not found however can work in offline mode

Troy Henderson's
http://www.tlhiv.org/ltxpreview/ (more recent limited range of 2017 packages) and MetaPost previewer http://www.tlhiv.org/mppreview/

There is a very up-to-date (LuaTeX, Version 1.10.0 (TeX Live 2019) ConTeXt online compiler at https://live.contextgarden.net/

Hybrids (can switch from simplistic equation editor to Latex syntax) In minimal or full latex mode will require \documentclass{} but may be limited to PNG rather than PDF output

https://www.latex4technics.com/ (older packages may fail, good for simple PNG output) http://sciencesoft.at/latex/?lang=en (can store tex and pdf online for sharing)
http://sciencesoft.at/latex/index?ochem=true&lang=en (specialist OCHEM-LaTeX)

Smaller equation editors (some possibly should be included above ?)

CodeCogs Equation Editor https://www.codecogs.com/latex/eqneditor.php
Interactive LaTeX Editor https://arachnoid.com/latex/

Noteworthy (thanks to @sebastiano) Conversion from Latex to MathML https://www.mathtowebonline.com/

To be continued...

  • Hi my compliments for the lists. You could add also cocalc (see if there is not cost) but is works on line, mathtoweb, sharelatex, authorea (this is new and could you check the correct browser?), JaxEdit Online Editor. Please check them all and check their peculiarities.
    – Sebastiano
    Apr 28 '19 at 15:15
  • @Sebastiano how to enter cocalc FREE without like or registration ? Open software is no-longer OPEN
    – user170109
    Apr 28 '19 at 15:16
  • 1
    If you see the link cocalc.com/app you can log in with facebook, github, google or twitter.you can log in with facebook, github, google or twitter. Check if there are any costs. I once logged in and it seems to me that it also works as a LaTeX editor among other features.
    – Sebastiano
    Apr 28 '19 at 15:25
  • 2
    @Sebastiano there is another BIG list question how to latex online includes overleaf cocalc sharelatex etc this question is how to NOT login e.g. opposite to Overleaf
    – user170109
    Apr 28 '19 at 15:29
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    I only use Papeeria to speed up my compilations. I just want to help you as I do with everyone else. Do what you think is appropriate.
    – Sebastiano
    Apr 28 '19 at 15:33

I'm a co-founder at Overleaf. Thanks for your feedback.

I think the underlying question here is about Overleaf requiring users to log in in order to edit, which I can comment on.

We used to allow anonymous editing --- that is, if you sent collaborators the secret link for a project with link sharing turned on, they could edit without logging in. However, we found that this lead to a steady stream of difficult support requests and unhappy authors. People in a panic would demand to know the identity of the "anonymous user" who had just deleted or rewrote some important part of their thesis or paper, which we could not tell them. People would edit their own projects when they were not logged in and get confused, because their changes showed up as being from an anonymous user. In some cases there were allegations of foul play from wayward collaborators or account hacking, but in the cases I was involved in, it was always just a misunderstanding.

I know this was a useful feature for some users, and it was an important one for me personally when I built it into the original Overleaf. However, with the benefit of several years' experience, I came to view it as a "footgun". Overleaf now has a community of over 4 million authors, so a even a feature that is useful 99% of the time but problematic 1% of the time can represent a major drain on our resources. I therefore argued successfully for its removal as part of our Overleaf v2 project.

There were several other factors that supported this decision:

  1. Anyone can register for an Overleaf account for free. We support email and password as well as one-click Single-Sign-On options, such as Google and ORCID.

  2. We allow anonymous read only access for projects via the 'read only' link (when the owner has enabled link sharing).

  3. Fundamentally, it is very useful to be able to see who has changed what, and this supports our main mission: to make it easier to collaborate on LaTeX projects.

We are considering ways that we might be able to safely bring back more features for anonymous users, for example to allow them to leave tracked changes or comments, either on the source or the PDF, without allowing them the full power of editing, which we know was problematic.

Finally, since open source has also been mentioned as a criterion, I should point out that Overleaf v2 is open source (https://github.com/sharelatex/sharelatex) following our integration with ShareLaTeX in 2017.

  • 3
    John Thanks for the clear answer, I do understand your reasons to keep resources focused on a quality product and the problems encountered by free access to users accounts. I feel the point here is that by absorbing a number of brands that formerly provided an easy unfettered approach to online Latex Editors there are now less options available to demonstrate to others (potential sceptics) the benefits of Latex Compilation over other Libre Editor formats.
    – user170109
    Apr 29 '19 at 11:34
  • I will accept this as a long comment. But you understand that this does not solve my problem. Why you have chosen to do any of this does not change the fact that the system is now unusable by me for my intended purpose. Your essentially saying that i cant have nice things because average user does not know what option to use. You could also elegantly solve the problem from my view by allowing loggingfree forks, but i suppose that would make monetisation hard.
    – joojaa
    Apr 29 '19 at 13:32
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    (I'm the founder of CoCalc.) For what it is worth, for 5 months CoCalc has fully supported anonymous logins (we get over 1000 every day), and we do not face "a steady stream of difficult support requests and unhappy authors." We did have such problems at the beginning, but we made a number of UI tweaks to address them, and now we get maybe 1 per week, and it is always easy to resolve (since the secret URL that identifies the anonymous project is in the user's browser history). So I agree with @jooja that anon login is do-able, though I had fought against it for cocalc for years... May 31 '20 at 16:30

I am the founder of CoCalc, which provides a collaborative LaTeX editor (as mentioned above). CoCalc does require users to create an account, though there is a read-only share feature, which posts documents at [1]. Unlike Overleaf, CoCalc is both open source [2], and very easy to self-host, since we provide a pre-made Docker image [3], e.g., in Google cloud as explained here [4]. It would probably be easy to make a configuration of CoCalc that allows for anonymous access in order to minimize friction. Pull requests welcome.

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