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So I'm writing a new edition of an old textbook, and I need some way of keeping track of what needs to be done, and what I have done.

I could use paper - but I tend to lose that. Or even a plain text file, but that would get confusing.

Is there any software which is helpful for something like this?

For what it's worth, I'm using LaTeX under Linux - so any software I use will have to be either cloud-based, or linux-based.

  • Git or github? . – user5645 Jan 2 '15 at 7:00
  • A revision control software (e.g. Subversion) is probably what you need. – Massimo Ortolano Jan 2 '15 at 11:26
  • Do you need to keep track of just your own edits, or do you also need to track feedback from other sources (reviewers or whatever) and whether you've addressed it yet? – Monica Cellio Jan 2 '15 at 20:43
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I use several methods depending on the situation:

  • when a client reviews my work, I supply them with a PDF and ask them to use the Acrobat commenting tools to insert the comments and changes. Then I can go through the list and add checkmarks to the comments I've processed. Acrobat can filter these, giving me a list of comments I haven't done yet. You can also combine the comments from different people in a single PDF. I'm not familiar with PDF options in Linux, but a brief search found at least one Linux PDF reader that can handle commenting: Okular.
  • if this is not available or the comments are more general, I use a text file. One comment per paragraph, and I'll postfix the comments with '-ok' when I've processed a comment.

A revision control system can help you track differences (by allowing you to compare before and after versions of the book), but AFAIK it's not an easy way of maintaining a comments list.

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May I recommend an approach I use since I also license my content for reuse:

  1. Source - HTML source format is my preference, but you can use LaTex as well Works great for all your distribution formats - PDF, Mobi, Word, etc Google Web Designer - Editor for all major OS's http://www.google.com/webdesigner Love this line from License agreement - You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content. In short, what belongs to you stays yours.

  2. Tracking - GIT http://git-scm.com/ Wether the format is HTML, binary, it will do a great job of tracking changes, branches, revisions and releases, and Github or Bitbucket are great cloud repositories to work with contributors

  3. Tasks - I like Jira https://www.atlassian.com/software/jira and is also cloud based

I use all three for my works and it has paid off, literally and figuratively - Happy Writing.

Git can be configured to show the "revision" checkin's in Jira, so it is easy to track and allow others to contribute, monitor progress and provide Project Wiki's, etc.

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First of all, I wouldn't use LaTeX (unless you're required to do so). LaTeX is great if you want a collegiate-looking PDF, but it's a pain to convert to other formats (I know from experience). I'd recommend markdown or the more advanced reStructuredText. Then all you need is pandoc to convert the document (the added plus is that you can convert rst or md docs to LaTeX if needed).

In addition to this, @what's suggestion is good. Git is an excellent VCS. If you are syncing your work with a place like GitHub and don't want your work visible, then just encrypt it with gpg.

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Google docs this out of the box, but leaves a lot to be desired as far as management of a giant document. And there's also the concern about storage if you're ever going to hit the limit and have to pay for it.

The programmer in me thinks the best solution is likely a writing "ide" that saves plain text. Then you can use something like git or SVN. This could be done if you are comfortable working in something like notepad and setting up a version control repository; but it will require a lot of personal management and tech know how.

Scrivener can do something like this, or so I've heard; but I've been using it for over a month and haven't found the feature, so it's at the very least not discoverable if it does in fact exist.

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