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  / /| | / ___/ ___/ / / / / / __ \| |/_/ / / /
 / ___ |(__  ) /__/ / / /_/ / /_/ />  </ /_/ /
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AsciiDoxy has been created to generate developer documentation for large projects. In large projects different components may be developed by separate teams in separate source control repositories. Integration into the final product happens at a different moment than the actual development of new features. Writing the documentation for each component as part of development, helps to have up to date documentation. Storing that documentation with the exact component version it belongs to prevents mismatches between what is documented and what has been integrated into the final product.

The concept of packages is used to distribute and collect documentation for different components. Packages contain partial documentation in AsciiDoc format, including supporting files like images and code snippets. AsciiDoxy collects packages from local directories or remote (HTTP) servers and combines them in a single documentation.

1. Creating a package

A package is either a directory or an archive containing one or more subdirectories with shared content. In the root of the package there is a package content file describing what each subdirectory contains and what AsciiDoxy should do with it. In this guide we are going to create the most basic package format: a local directory.

For an overview of supported package formats, see the packages section in the reference documentation.

  1. Create a new directory for the package named my-package.

  2. Create a subdirectory inside the new directory called src. This will be the directory in which we are going to add AsciiDoc files to share.

  3. Add an AsciiDoc file called reference.adoc in my-package/src. Add some basic headers and text.

  4. Add a TOML called contents.toml in the root of my-package. This is the package content file. The name of the file is mandatory, and it must be in the root of the package.

In contents.toml the contents of the package need to be described. Enter the following content:

[package]            (1)
name = "my-package"  (2)

[asciidoc]           (3)
src_dir = "src"      (4)
1 The package section is mandatory for all packages. It contains metadata for the entire package.
2 The name is also mandatory. It is used to refer to the package when using it.
3 This package will contain AsciiDoc files.
4 The AsciiDoc files are in a subdirectory called src in the package.

More details and syntax for the package content file can be found in the packages section in the reference documentation.

There is also a legacy package format that does not contain a package content file. The legacy format is deprecated and will be removed in a future version of AsciiDoxy.

2. Collecting the package

To use the contents of a package in the main documentation, AsciiDoxy needs to collect it. Packages to collect are described in a package specification file. This file describes for every package where it needs to be collected from.

To use the local package from the previous section, the package specification file needs to look like this:

[packages]                                 (1)

[packages.my-package]                      (2)
type = "local"                             (3)
package_dir = "/home/me/asciidoc/package"  (4)
1 The packages section contains all packages to collect.
2 Each package needs to be defined in a subsection of packages with a unique name.
3 This is a package in a local directory.
4 The location on your local file system containing the package. This should point to the root of the package, the directory directly containing contents.toml.

The package specification file is provided to AsciiDoxy using the command-line option --spec-file:

asciidoxy --spec-file packages.toml INPUT_FILE

More details and syntax for the package specification file can be found in the packages section in the reference documentation.

3. Using the contents of the package

AsciiDoc files contained in a package can be included in the main documentation (and in other packages) using include. Specify the name of the file to include, relative to the src_dir specified in the package content file. Add the package_name argument to indicate the file is contained in a package. The package_name must match the name in the package content file:

${include("reference.adoc", package_name="my-package")}

The cross_document_ref command also supports the package_name argument. To create a link to a file in the package use:

${cross_document_ref("reference.adoc", package_name="my-package")}

When a package_name is provided, the path used in include and cross_document_ref must be relative to the root of the package. That is different from using these commands without a package_name. This means that absolute paths and .. are not allowed here.

The package name must match the package containing the file. No file will be included, or no link will be created, if:

  • the file does not exist in the specified package.

  • the package name does not match the package content file.

  • the package is not present in the package specification file.

A warning is printed when this happens. You can change the warnings into fatal errors using command-line option --warnings-are-errors.

The same file cannot be present in multiple packages. A fatal error will occur when AsciiDoxy encounters duplicate files during collection. Having the same file name in different subdirectories is allowed. The same subdirectory in multiple packages is also allowed, but the contents of the subdirectories cannot have duplicates.

If no package_name is given, AsciiDoxy looks for the file in the same packages as the file containing the command. It is not required to repeat the package_name when referring to files in the same package. The input file and the contents of the include directory given on the command line, are considered part of a special package called INPUT.

4. Setting a package root document

Packages can specify a root document that is considered an entry point to the package. The root document is specified in the package content file as root_doc:

name = "my-package"

src_dir = "src"
root_doc = "reference.adoc"

The root document must be specified relative to the src_dir.

In other packages, or the main document, the root document is used by omitting the file name from the command:


If the package does not specify a root document, a warning (or error) is given.

5. Using images

Image files require special handling. AsciiDoctor expects all image files in the location specified in :imagesdir:. In some output formats the images are embedded, while in other output formats the images need to be copied manually to the output directory. AsciiDoxy takes care of setting :imagesdir:, copying the images from the packages, and copying the images to the output directory if needed by the output format.

To include images in a package:

  1. Create a new subdirectory inside the package, e.g. images.

  2. Add the name of the new subdirectory in the package content file.

name = "my-package"

src_dir = "src"
image_dir = "images"

The image directory should not be a subdirectory of src_dir.

Now you can insert images as described in the AsciiDoctor manual. Do make sure you do not change the value of :imagesdir:.

6. More to come…​

The AsciiDoxy documentation is still being written. Expect more documentation about:

  • Creating and using remote packages

  • Simpler package specification using package sources

  • URL string replacements for remote package sources

  • Using a separate version file

  • …​