Long-time support

LaTeX files with a bibliography (or an index) require several compiler passes to resolve all references for building:

latex paper.tex
bibtex paper.aux
latex paper.tex
latex paper.tex

Tedious, isn't it? For that reason, wrappers have been invented, automating this procedure. The veterans on this field are latexmk and rubber, but there are several others, including a new kid on the block called latexrun that sounds truly promising.

I've used rubber for many years, despite the fact that its development had stalled nine years ago. Rubber has worked for me since scientific publishers are ... ahem ... extremely conservative: they will probably stick to the pdflatex/bibtex workflow for the next few centuries (or forever, whatever comes earlier).

However, for documents not intended for submission to a publisher, I've long ago switched to XeLateX/Biber. For example, my curriculum vitae is to be compiled with these engines rather than with their prehistoric ancestors. Since it is technically identical to its template, you can download Adrien's CV to test the wrapper you want to use.

The following commands should compile this CV in a single run, including the bibliography:

latexmk --xelatex --synctex=1 --silent cv.tex

rubber --module xelatex --module biber --synctex cv.tex

latexrun --latex-cmd xelatex --bibtex-cmd biber cv.tex

In July 2015, only latexmk managed to do that, while rubber 1.2 failed despite my manual addition of XeLaTeX and Biber support. I was only mildly disappointed: after all, rubber had become lame and grey, and I realized that it was time to leave it behind. I was surprised, though, that latexrun, the newly developed contender, failed as well.

Now, to my absolute astonishment, the rubber project suddenly became alive again this year. After nine years of inactivity, rubber 1.3 was published in October, and 1.4 just a few days ago. Rubber 1.4 passed the test above with flying colors, and twice as fast as latexmk. What's more, SyncTeX support, which I previously smuggled in manually, has now been added to the rubber feature list as well.

Rubber thus manages to once again take the crown of LaTeX wrappers, with latexmk just seconds behind (literally) because of its inferior performance. Latexrun in its present state leaves much to be desired, but I'll keep an eye on its further development (if any 😉 ).