Thomas Kobber Panum

Thomas Kobber Panum

Mirroring of Overleaf to GitHub

July 3, 2020 — Thomas Kobber Panum

A typical problem in life of modern academia is maintain TeX-files, and their compiled PDF form, in sync among authors of the work. This fact becomes increasing important as feedback and modifications of the work is occurring asynchronously. Traditionally feedback would be gathered by sending PDF around through email, following responses with feedback. Naturally, these responses can take a while to be ready, and thereby feedback might be based on an outdated version of the work as it is continuously changing. Overleaf combats this problem by being a centralized platform of collaboration, managing TeX-files and their compiled PDF form. However, the platform can be very restrictive when one wish to modify TeX-files, as it forces you to use the in-browser editor and not your favorite text editor. Additionally, you might want to keep mirrors of your Overleaf papers, in case the platform become unavailable during critical times. Personally, I am used to (and a fan of) GitHub’s collaboration tools (issues, project, pull requests, and more) and wanted to keep my papers available on GitHub for this reason and availability. Despite GitHub recently having introduced continuous integration in the form of GitHub actions, I quickly realized that compiling TeX files effectively (without massive full-tex docker images) was challenging due to the ever-evolving TeX package repositories.

Setup a new project by using the following procedure:

  1. Create a repository that contains the workflow file for mirroring on GitHub.
  2. Use the “Import from GitHub”-feature on Overleaf to create your Overleaf project.
  3. Configure “Secrets” under the settings tab on your GitHub repository (Add the following: `OVERLEAF_USER`, `OVERLEAF_PASS`, `OVERLEAF_ID`).
  4. Clone your Overleaf project using git.
  5. You’re done! Keep using the Overleaf repository as the central owner of the repository, as changes made on the online editor will be added as commits by Overleaf.

Workflow File [Step 1]

This file was originally created by my colleague Egon Kidmose (@kidmose), I have modified it slightly and updated some components.

name: Rebase Overleaf into master (heartbeat)
# Modified version of the original workflow designed by Egon Kidmose (@kidmose).
    - cron: '0 0 * * * ' # once a day at midnight
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    - uses: actions/checkout@v2
    - name: Configure git user
      run: |
        git config "${GITHUB_ACTOR}"
        git config "${GITHUB_ACTOR}"
        git config credential.helper store --file=~/.git-credentials
        echo "https://${{ secrets.OVERLEAF_USER }}:${{ secrets.OVERLEAF_PASS }}" > ~/.git-credentials        
    - name: Fetch Overleaf repository
      run: |
        # The ID can be found be browsing an Overleaf project and then view the url:<OVERLEAF_ID>
        git remote add overleaf "${{ secrets.OVERLEAF_ID }}"
        git fetch overleaf        
    - name: Rebase from Overleaf
      run: |
        git rebase --autosquash --autostash overleaf/master
        git log --oneline | head -n 3        
    - name: Push changes to GitHub
      run: |
        git push -f        

Cloning from Overleaf [Step 4]

Use the following Bash-script to clone your newly formed Overleaf project (imported from GitHub). Throughout this setup Overleaf will serve as the “master” repository, such that GitHub will just be a simply mirror, ensuring that conflicts will not occur.

encode() {
  python -c "import urllib.parse; import sys; print(urllib.parse.quote(\"${1}\"))"
EMAIL=$(encode "<your_overleaf_email>")
PASSWORD=$(encode "<your_overleaf_password>")
OID="<overleaf_project_id>" # Browse your project in Overleaf, and then find the ID through the url:<project_id>
git clone "https://$EMAIL:$$OID"