Write / Don’t Write the Whole Book in bookdown

Yihui Xie 2018-07-11

For any software package, there may be users who love it or hate it, which never surprises me. In the past two days, I noticed two tweets that said opposite things about bookdown. The other day, tj mahr said:

don’t write your book from start to finish in bookdown. it’s too easy to hit a bug, and it’s impossible to interactively debug. also, today my figure captions stopped working.

The next day, Matt Crump said (independently, I assume):

write the whole thing in #bookdown compiles seamlessly to webook, pdf epub. Easy editing compared to latex. All source code in a github repo

Isn’t that amusing?

Half an hour after tj mahr complained, he realized it was because he didn’t follow the documentation. So I’d like to thank him again for reading the documentation.

Should you write the whole book in bookdown? Well, if you ask me, the answer is of course yes, and I’m certainly biased as the author of this package. I have written three whole books in bookdown. The PDFs I generated from bookdown were directly ready for the publisher’s printer (at least I didn’t need to do anything else).

I guess the moral is, if you want to use Feature X of a software package, you may ignore its documentation for the first time. If everything goes well, great. But when you run into problems, it is probably a good idea to read the relevant documentation.

And don’t panic.

You can do it