Continuous integration for text documents

Continuous integration is a concept that has gained widespread traction in software development. I consider it useful in other contexts, too.

  • I recommend to master students and doctoral students I supervise to start with a blank thesis document the first day they embark on their project. That way, they will always have a thesis they can submit. It might not be good, but it will always be available. It avoids piling up integration problems like pictures, footnotes, page breaks, bibliography, page numbering, formatting compliance to the very last minute. Plus, there will always be a version of the document that can be handed to a third party for feedback or editing. Write early, write often.
  • For the annual report of the COINS Research School of Computer and Information Security, I checked in a simple LaTeX report document in the project repository. Two months before the deadline, I now have a structure, recommendations from the mid-term evaluation of other research schools, and initial data in the report. Whenever I have some spare time, I can update the report. It feels good to have a dozen pages already, and I expect it to be much easier to add a couple of paragraphs every week instead of writing a complete report the week before the deadline.
About Author: Hanno Langweg

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