Section 2.1 Getting PreTeXt
For the sake of this tutorial, we will use the PreTeXt-CLI, a python-based command line interface that simplifies the installation of PreTeXt, and allows you to easily create, build (convert), and view PreTeXt documents. Other setups that provide more flexibility at the cost of complexity can be found in Chapter 5.
You have two options for running the PreTeXt-CLI: you could do everything in the cloud using CoCalc, or you could install PreTeXt on your own computer. The CoCalc route is faster and doesn't require installing Python and LaTeX on your computer, but unless you pay for a subscription to CoCalc, your experience there might be limited. A local install also allows you to use a more powerful text editor that might have PreTeXt-specific support that speeds up editing.
Luckily, both processes are relatively easy to try out, so there is no reason not to attempt both of the options below.
Note: We will work at the command-line inside of a terminal or console. If you do not know what this is, it will seem very primitive at first. Sometimes the old ways are the best ways. This will be called a “Command Prompt” or “PowerShell” in Windows or a “Terminal” on a Mac. In Linux it may be known as a “console” or a “shell”. Whenever the guide says to enter something on the command line or in a terminal, or just to enter the command, this is what we are talking about.
CoCalc has graciously already installed the PreTeXt-CLI, as well as LaTeX, so there is almost no setup required.
https://cocalc.com/. There you can click on the “Run CoCalc Now” button, or sign up for a free account so you can save your work. Once you are in a CoCalc project, click on the “New” tab and select the “Linux terminal” button. This will give you a command prompt where you can start typing commands.
At this point, you can skip directly to the next section of the tutorial, Section 2.2.
Before you can install PreTeXt locally, make sure you have the following software on your computer, or else install it using instructions easily searched for online.
Python, version 3.8 or later. In a terminal, type
python --versionto ensure you are already set up.
xelatex --versionto see if you already have this.
Now we can install PreTeXt. Open a terminal and type the following:
pip install pretextbook
If this fails, try:
python -m pip install pretextbook
python -m helps in case Python is on your PATH but
pip is not. This is a useful fix for the rest of the commands listed for the PreTeXt-CLI.
To ensure that the CLI is installed, type
pretext --version (or
python -m pretext --version) and you should get back a number (0.5.1, for example).
We are now ready to move on to creating and converting a new PreTeXt document.