As an ultimate LaTeX addicted, I hate to admit that there is nothing in the TeX universe comparable to the amazingly simple and intuitive revision tracking system that Microsoft implemented in Word. OpenOffice apparently has an equally powerful version control system built in its Writer.
Those of you who ever ventured into the territories of TeX-based collaborative writing certainly know how painful it can be to keep track of changes among several authors in TeX. TeX sources are raw text, so if you need proper diffing or revision tracking you will probably have to resort to some revision control system (such as Subversion or Git). Revision tracking via RCS, however, can be a nightmare to set up and learn to use fluently if you’re not already familiar with some basic notions of software revision control.
After an ugly lot of email exchanged with coauthors to let each other know who was doing what with a manuscript, I decided to search the Web for an answer.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything particularly useful or enlightening. I came across this nice tutorial recently published in PracTeX describing a few steps to make the most of revision control in LaTeX via SVN and some dedicated packages:
U. Ziegenhagen, LaTeX document management with Subversion, The PracTEX Journal, 3 (2007).
(incidentally there’s also a SourceForge project for OpenOffice-SVN integration)
Using this solution still means convincing my collaborators to learn SVN, which I am not sure is a viable solution. I anticipate that the first who comes up with a good solution for revision tracking in LaTeX (e.g. a server-side tool similar to revision control systems but optimized for LaTeX and with good integration with a variety of TeX front-ends) will definitely become rich and famous.
Until this happens, I’d be curious to hear what strategies people use for TeX-based collaborative authoring.