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An implementation of the Common LaTeX Service Interface using Ruby on Rails
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README.md

The Common LaTeX Service Interface

The Common LaTeX Service Interface (CLSI) is an HTTP API for compiling LaTeX documents. Requests can be sent in either XML or JSON. The main access point to the service is via

http://clsi.scribtex.com/clsi/compile

An example JSON request looks like

{
    "compile" {
        "token" : "...",
        "options" : {
            "output_format" : "pdf",
            "compiler"      : "latex"
        },
        "resources" : [
            {
                "path"    : "main.tex",
                "content" : "\\documentclass{article} \\begin{document} Hello world! \\input{chapter1.tex} \\end{document}"
            },
            {
                "path"     : "chapter1.tex",
                "url"      : "http://scribtex.github.com/clsi/examples/chapter1.tex",
                "modified" : "2012-02-14 12:36:54" 
            }
        ],
        "root_resource_path" : "main.tex"
    }
}

The corresponding request in XML would be

< TODO doc type here >
<compile>
    <token>...</token>
    <options>
        <output-format>pdf</output-format>
        <compiler>latex</compiler>
    </options>
    <resources root-resource-path="main.tex">
        <resource path="main.tex"><!CDATA[
            \documentclass{article}
            \begin{document}
            Hello world! 
            \input{chapter1.tex}
            \end{document}
        ]></resource>
        <resource
            path="chapter1.tex"
            url="http://scribtex.github.com/clsi/examples/chapter1.tex"
            modified="2012-02-14 12:36:54">
        </resource>
    </resources>
</compile>

These requests should be sent as POST requests to /clsi/compile, e.g.

curl --data-binary @request.json
http://clsi.scribtex.com/clsi/compile?format=json

or

curl --data-binary @request.xml http://clsi.scribtex.com/clsi/compile

Note that XML is assumed to be the default format unless otherwise specified.

Request Format

Token

Every request must include your API access token under the token option. This can currently only be obtained by an email request to team@scribtex.com.

Resources

Every request must contain a list of resources (files to included in the compilation), containing at least one resource. Resources must have a path attribute, and either a content or an url attribute. For XML requests, the content should be provided as the contents of tag rather than as an attribute. More information about each attribute is given below:

  • path - This specifies where the file should be written to on disk before performing the compile. Any directories are created automatically so only the full file path of each file needs to be supplied.
  • url - An URL where the contents of the file can be downloaded from. The response from the URL is written verbatim into the file before compilation. Content downloaded from URLs is cached for an arbitrary length of time so the URL may not be downloaded with every request to the CLSI. The cache can be invalidated using the modified property which is explained in more detail below.
  • content - Alternatively, the file contents may be specified directly. For speed, it is generally quicker to provide the file contents from URLs where possible as these can be cached on disk for quicker access.
  • modified - If providing the file via an URL this specifies when the file was last modified. This should be a string formatted like "YYYY-MM-DD hh:mm:ss" (TODO: Check if there is an official way to write this). Note that times should be provided in UTC as the server records when the data was last fetched in UTC (this is currently regarded as a slight bug. Instead the URL should be redownloaded if the modified date is ahead of the previously supplied modified date). If no modified date is provided, a cached version of the URL will always be used where available.

Root Resource Path

This specifies the main file which LaTeX should be run on. LaTeX will be called with something like

latex <root-resource-path>

The root resource path defaults to "main.tex".

Options

The CLSI provides multiple compilers and output formats which can be specified in the options section.

TODO: Copy paste from wiki

Response Format

The response follows a similar schema to the request, and is returned in the same format as the request. An example JSON response is:

{
    "compile" : {
        "status"     : "success",
        "compile_id" : "...",
        "output_files" : [
            {
                "url"      : "http://clsi.scribtex.com/output/.../output.pdf",
                "mimetype" : "application/pdf",
                "type"     : "pdf"
            }
        ],
        "logs" : [
            {
                "url"      : "http://clsi.scribtex.com/output/.../output.log",
                "mimetype" : "text/plain",
                "type"     : "log"
            }
        ]
    }
}

The corresponding XML would be:

...

Status

The status can be either:

  • success - The compile ran successfully and an output document was produced.
  • failure - For some reason the compile was unable to run or produce any output. More information is given in the error attribute explained below.
  • compiling - The compile has not yet finished. See Asynchronous Compiling below.

Errors

If there was a problem with the request, or the compile was unable to run for some reason, the response will contain an error section:

{
    "compile" : {
        "error" { 
            "type"    : "NoOutputProduced",
            "message" : "No output files were produced" 
        },
        ...
    }
}

or the corresponding XML:

...

Possible errors are:

TODO: Copy from Wiki.

Compile ID

Each request is given a unique ID which is returned as the compile_id attribute. This can be used to later refer to the same compile. This is mainly useful when compiling asynchronously (see below).

Output Files and Logs

Any output files and logs which are produced are returned in the output_files and logs attributes respectively. These are collections of items with the following properites:

TODO: Copy paste from Wiki

Asynchronous Compiling

By default the HTTP connection is left open until the compile is finished and then the response is returned. While the CLSI is comparatively fast, compiling a LaTeX document can still take a long time and this can leave you with a connection sitting open for a while.

The asynchronous options tells the CLSI to return immediately, before the compilation is finished. A unique ID is provided which allows you to poll the server to find out of the compile is complete.

Asynchronous compiling is enabled by passing the asynchronous option in the request:

{
    "compile" : {
        "options" : {
            "asynchronous" : true,
            ...
        },
        ...
    }
}

or

<compile>
    <options>
        <asynchronous>true</asynchronous>
        ...
    </options>
    ...
</compile>

The CLSI will return a response immediately, except there will be no files listed yet, and the status will be compiling. E.g.

{
    "compile" : {
        "status"      : "compiling",
        "compile_id" : "..."
    }
}

To check on the progress of a compile you can perform a GET request to

http://clsi.scribtex.com/output/<compile-id>/response.json

or

http://clsi.scribtex.com/output/<compile-id>/response.xml

depending on the format you would like.

The response will contain a status as above, which will either be compiling if the compile is still going on, or success or failure if it has finished. Any output files will be listed when they are available.

We recommend polling at progressively longer intervals, e.g. 0.2s, 0.5s, 0.8s, 1s, 2s.

Something went wrong with that request. Please try again.