Latest TeX update: TiKZ / PGF 3.0 support, auto-generated nomenclature, and a new Arabic typesetting system

By John Lees-Miller

Happy New Year! This is our first blog post of 2015 (yay!), with details of three updates to the TeX servers that power Overleaf which we released towards the end of last year; TikZ / PGF 3.0 support, auto-generated nomenclature and a new Arabic typesetting system.

TikZ / PGF 3.0 Support

Overleaf is now fully compatible with TiKZ / PGF 3.0. As described on the LaTeX Community blog:

A lot of new features has been added to TikZ, still there's a focus on perfect backward compatibility. It's hardly possible to list all the improvements and changes, but let's mention some:

  • You can now configure the appearance of arrow tip even on the fly. Arbitrary arrow tips can now bend along curves.
  • There's a lot of syntax improvements: For example, nodes can be both in front and behind of paths. "small pictures" called a "pic", have been introduced, kind of mixing a node with a picture.
  • We got a new simple syntax for specifying graphs, borrowed from the GraphViz program, makes it easier to specify graphs, especially trees.
  • TikZ now provides large and powerful system for computing the positions of nodes of graphs automatically. This feature requires LuaTeX.
  • pgf/TikZ now offers data visualization as an alternative to pgfplots as part of the standard TikZ installation for creating plots. Though pgfplots is more mature, that new data visualization system shows some new ideas.
  • The support for all major backend drivers has been improved. Now dvisvgm is supported, allowing to create SVG graphics directly from TeX.

To try it out for yourself, we've added one of the examples from that post to our gallery - click the image below to see how the blend package has been used to create this simple but effective Venn diagram:

Venn diagram with blend pgf 3 example image

To see more examples of what TikZ and PGF can offer, check out the galleries at and

Auto-generated nomenclature

We've updated our default latexmk configuration to handle the nomencl package; this allows templates such as Krishna's CUED thesis template to include an automatically generated nomenclature section.

Cambridge University CUED thesis template front cover

A new Arabic typesetting system

By Yannis Haralambous

Because Arabic is “the language of the ض” (pronounced “dad”) we invite you to write fully voweled Arabic easily in any LaTeX style with the ض package, released in 2014. You can type your Arabic text directly in UTF-8 or use transliterated input. The latter is particularly useful when you mix Arabic and Latin scripts (such as TeX commands) in your document.

This new Arabic typesetting system is featured in TUGboat issue 35.3 (available to TUG members only), the communications of the TeX Users Group

For more info on how to use the ض package, please see this example document on Overleaf, which contains all you need to get started.

dad ض package user guide front page

We're continually adding support for new and updated TeX packages to Overleaf, and if you'd like to request a specific package to be installed, please get in touch. Don't forget that you can always add the .cls and .sty files to your projects directly via the Project menu in the editor, and choose a different build engine if required.

John Lees-Miller

Co-founder, CTO

Computer scientist, mathematician and co-founder of Overleaf. I make things that work.