Harsh Vakharia

Document building & versioning with TeX document, Git, Continuous Integration & Dropbox


Use Git, Continuous Integration & Dropbox to build tex documents and upload with proper branch structure & version to Dropbox.



1. Requirements

We need;

  1. Git service
    • Bitbucket
    • Github
  2. Continuous Integration and Deployment service
    • Semaphore
    • Travis
  3. Dropbox account

1.1. Dropbox Uploader

Use of App Folder only as access level is recommended.

To upload generated PDF to Dropbox, we will use Dropbox Uploader.

  1. Follow Dropbox-Uploader’s README.md and configure it on your local machine.
  2. Verify that you have ~/.dropbox_uploader file on your local machine. We will use this file later.

2. Prepare Git repository

See best practices for writing Dockerfiles.

Initialise Git git init and use following directory structure for your git repository.

├── docker
|   ├── Dockerfile
├── document.tex

Now for docker/Dockerfile, we will use harshjv/texlive-2015 docker image. This image contains Tex Live 2015.

2.1. Dockerfile

FROM harshjv/texlive-2015
RUN tlmgr update --self --all

This will build docker image with latest packages for building tex documents.

3. Add your tex documents

Add some tex files to your repository.

4. Configure Git service

For Webhooks/Services, we need to configure Git services as follows;

4.1. For Bitbucket

No configuration needed as of now.

4.2. For Github

  1. Go to Settings -> Webhooks & services -> Services
  2. Select Travis CI

5. Configure Continuous Integration service

5.1. For Semaphore

  1. Do an initial commit and push to remote branch (if empty remote repository), because it requires at least one remote branch
  2. Go to SemaphoreCI
  3. Add new project
  4. Select your Git service
  5. Select your repository
  6. Select branch (e.g. master)
  7. Select your account

After these initial steps, it’s time to configure build and deployment.

5.1.1. Setup Thread

sudo docker build -t texlive docker
curl "https://raw.githubusercontent.com/andreafabrizi/Dropbox-Uploader/master/dropbox_uploader.sh" -o dropbox_uploader.sh
chmod +x dropbox_uploader.sh

This setup script builds docker/Dockerfile with latest tex packages and fetches Dropbox Uploader script.

5.1.2. Build Thread

sudo docker run -it -v ${SEMAPHORE_PROJECT_DIR}:/var/texlive texlive sh -c "pdflatex document.lex"
./dropbox_uploader.sh upload document.pdf ${BRANCH_NAME}/document-latest.pdf
./dropbox_uploader.sh upload document.pdf ${BRANCH_NAME}/document-v${SEMAPHORE_BUILD_NUMBER}.pdf

This build script compiles document.lex LeX document and builds document.pdf PDF. Then, using Dropbox Uploader, versioned PDF files are stored in branch’s individual folder.

For document.lex in master branch, document.pdf will be uploaded as;

  • Dropbox/[YOUR_APP_FOLDER]/master/document-latest.pdf
  • Dropbox/[YOUR_APP_FOLDER]/master/document-v[BUILD_NUMBER].pdf

Any successive commit will overwrite document-latest.pdf and will create a new document-v[BUILD_NUMBER].pdf file.

5.1.3. Configuration Files

  1. Visit Project Settings -> Configuration Files
  2. Add configuration file
  3. Add .dropbox_uploader to File path
  4. (Optional) Check encryption
  5. Paste content of ~/.dropbox_uploader
    • pbcopy ~/.dropbox_uploader (OSX)

5.2. For Travis

Script for setup and building remains same. Put these script into individual files and create a .travis.yml file. This isn’t covered here for now. Refer this post for relevant instructions.

4. Git commit and push

It’s time to push the documents/changes.

git add .
git commit -m "Add some details"
git push origin master

5. Hooray


If you want to share only the latest PDF after changes, use URL shortener service like Bit.ly to point to this latest document after getting sharing link from Dropbox.

Why? Because, for each branch folder, [DOCUMENT_NAME]-latest.pdf will always contains latest PDF.

After a successful build, generated PDF files will be available at Dropbox/[YOUR_APP_FOLDER]/master folder.

Got any questions or comments? Drop me a message on Twitter @harshjv or comment below.