When I unwrapped my iPhone 3g, my first thought was “they should port Doom to this”. To make up for my loss in productivity when they did, I started to think “they should port LaTeX to this”. As it turned out, “They” turned out to be “we”, and we recently released Texpad, a LaTeX editor for the iPad with a built in typesetter. Yesterday the 1.4 update went out. Not only is BibTeX built in to this version, it is a universal binary for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch. Not only can you run LaTeX on your phone, you can run BibTeX on it too.

Include a .bib file in your document and Texpad will find it and add the necessary BibTeX step when typesetting.

After the pain of porting LaTeX to iOS, porting BibTeX was almost an anticlimax. With the WEB libraries, search path code and objective-C wrapper already in place, it was just a case of dropping BibTeX in, and pressing typeset.

We ported the TeX codebase to the iPad out of necessity when writing our iOS LaTeX environment, but integrating TeX has opened up new possibilities for developing our Texpad. For example, in 1.4, Texpad inspects TeX’s internal state after each typeset and extracts all commands that were defined during the typeset. Like this we can make sure that the autocomplete list corresponds exactly to the list of commands available to the user, including those from included packages and those that are user defined.

Next up, we are planning on integrating our TeX distribution into the desktop version of Texpad so that it can enjoy these benefits too.