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SemTeX - Streamlined LaTeX

What is it?

SemTeX is a preprocessor for LaTeX aimed at simplifying LaTeX syntax and making documents easier to type.


  • SemTeX generally accepts macros in the form of \macroname{arg1}{arg2}. This is to keep SemTeX from looking out of place alongside normal LaTeX.
  • Arguments can be nested (in most cases - some do not allow nesting).
  • Some macros have options that can be set. For example, the macro to create an integral \integral, has an inf option that fills in the bounds with infinity. (i.e. \integral[inf]{f(x)}{x} becomes \int_{-\infty}^{\infty} ...)

Implemented Features

Basic Replacements

  • --> expands to \rightarrow, ==> expands to \Rightarrow, <==> expands to \Leftrightarrow, etc.

  • != expands to \neq, >= expands to \geq, <= expands to \leq, etc.

  • "w expands to \omega, "p expands to \pi, "F expands to \Phi, etc.


  • \integral{f(x)}{x}{a}{b} expands to \int_{a}^{b} f(x)\, \mathrm{d}x

  • \summ{x}{a}{b} expands to \sum_{x=a}^{b} Both can take an "inf" option which will output \int_{\infty}^{\infty} and \sum_{\infty}^{\infty}, respectively, if set. They can also take a "mir" option, which mirrors a single argument on both sides (e.g. \summ[mir]{x}{a} becomes \sum_{x = -a}^{a}

  • \deriv{y}{x}{2} expands to \frac{\mathrm{d}^{2}y}{\mathrm{d}x^{2}}, \deriv{y}{x} expands to \frac{\mathrm{d}y}{\mathrm{d}x}, and \deriv{x} expands to \frac{\mathrm{d}}{\mathrm{d}x}.

  • \unit{mV} expands to \,\mathrm{mV}.

  • Piecewise function definition:

\piece{0}{-\infty <= x <= 0}
\piece{2x}{x > 0}

Planned Features

Graphviz integration

The following would expand into a Graphviz graph:

graph foo {
    foo -> bar;
    foo -> baz;
    baz -> biz;

Options could be provided to determine whether the graph should be rendered with dot or with dot2tex, etc.

Miscellaneous features

  • Expand ( and ) in math mode to \left( \right)

  • Automatically expand vertical space as needed in array tables (e.g. if a row contains \frac)


To run SemTeX:

  • LaTeX (specifically pdflatex)
  • LaTeX math packages (usually provided by the texlive-extra package)

To build SemTeX:

  • A compiler that supports (a good chunk of) C++11
  • Boost (used for boost::regex and boost::filesystem). I planned on using std::regex but gcc has yet to provide a working implementation.
  • TCLAP (a small C++ command line argument parser)



I take notes using Vim and LaTeX and wanted to speed up the process.

Why not Vim-LaTeX? Why not make a LaTeX package?

Some things such as the simple search and replace macros (e.g. \unit{V} to \,\mathrm{V}) could easily be done either as an addition to Vim-LaTeX or in a LaTeX package. However, some of the other planned features (such as automatic paren resizing, macros with options etc.) would be rather difficult to do in either of these environments.

Additionally, it is the hope that some SemTeX macros and replacements are easier to read through than their LaTeX equivalents (for example, here <-- there versus here \leftarrow there).

License (zlib license)

Copyright (C) 2013 Matt Kline

This software is provided 'as-is', without any express or implied warranty. In no event will the authors be held liable for any damages arising from the use of this software.

Permission is granted to anyone to use this software for any purpose, including commercial applications, and to alter it and redistribute it freely, subject to the following restrictions:

  1. The origin of this software must not be misrepresented; you must not claim that you wrote the original software. If you use this software in a product, an acknowledgment in the product documentation would be appreciated but is not required.
  2. Altered source versions must be plainly marked as such, and must not be misrepresented as being the original software.
  3. This notice may not be removed or altered from any source distribution.
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