[Feature Request] A Better Tool for Drawing Commutative Diagrams

Commutative diagrams are indispensable in many fields of pure mathematics. Still, it is usually not easy to draw or edit them. TikZ and Xy-pic plugins in TeXmacs don’t make it easier because, in principle, we draw commutative diagrams precisely as we do with LaTeX. Besides, TeXmacs provides a friendly graphics tool capable of producing specific commutative diagrams relatively easily.

A beautiful tool named quiver does make a big difference for drawing commutative diagrams with LaTeX since it came out at the end of 2020. It makes the drawing much easier and more intuitive. It is the kind of tool that you can’t get enough of. Thanks to the good job of @darcy, TeXmacs now also has a plugin for quiver.

The quiver plugin and the graphics tool in TeXmacs have their advantages and disadvantages. What bothers me the most is that they are not compatible. It would sometimes be hard to choose between these two.

  • The graphics tool in TeXmacs supports the WYSIWYG interface for professional writing, especially for formulas, which quiver definitely doesn’t have. Quiver accepts only LaTeX code. It is excruciating to switch between TeXmacs and quiver.
  • The graphics tool is very flexible in various cases, but the flexibility sometimes becomes burdensome for commutative diagrams. For example, a minor move would change the position of the source or the target of an arrow, and it took me a very long time to get used to operating arrows in TeXmacs. But for drawing arrows, the positions of the source and the target are the only things that matter. Quiver is following this idea. After specifying the source and target, an arrow in quiver can be automatically well-placed, and curved arrows are clicks away.
  • In quiver, the start- and endpoint of an arrow change automatically as the contents on both sides vary. In TeXmacs, one should change them by hand when adding or subtracting something on the source or the target.
  • Quiver supports a large variety of arrows and decorations, for example, double and triple arrows, which are very common in mathematics. But I have no idea how to draw most of them in TeXmacs. Especially in TeXmacs, there is no easy way to flip the accent above to below.
  • As quiver generates diagrams using TikZ-cd code, they are naturally LaTeX-compatible. But in TeXmacs, the diagrams can only be exported as PDF for now.

I strongly suggest developing a built-in and more deeply embedded quiver plugin for TeXmacs based on the work of @darcy, which supports both the UI of quiver and the WYSIWYG interface of TeXmacs. It would be a more significant attraction for a large group of mathematicians. I sincerely hope that the developers can consider my proposal in the near future.

Thank you for reading. All comments are welcome!


There is another thing. When we submit papers to journals, they usually demand the LaTeX code (for them to edit) with their template. The current exportation is to convert all these plugin codes into PDF then embed (I am currently using xy-pic). In order to submit, we have to modify these codes to convert them into codes embedded in the LaTeX source by hand. This is extremely laborious.

By the way, I don’t like the existing graphing tool in TeXmacs, or I don’t understand how to use it to produce commutative diagrams. If I understand correctly, the coordinates of the diagram are determined by eyes, and the arrows are not extensive. If you have ever changed the font size or the document style, you might have seen that the diagram becomes messy.

1 Like