A lightweight markup language - document once, include anywhere

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Document once, include anywhere

DocOnce is a modestly tagged (Markdown-like) markup language targeting scientific reports, software documentation, books, blog posts, and slides involving much math and code in the text. From DocOnce source you can generate LaTeX, Sphinx, HTML, IPython notebooks, Markdown, MediaWiki, and other formats. This means that you get the most up-to-date publishing technologies for paper, tablets, and phones.


  • DocOnce is a modestly tagged markup language (see syntax example), quite like Markdown, but with many more features, aimed at documents with much math and code in the text (see demo).
  • There is extensive support for book projects. In addition to classical LaTeX-based paper books one gets for free fully responsive, modern-looking, HTML-based ebooks for tablets and phones. Parts of books can, e.g., appear in blog posts for discussion and as IPython notebooks for experimentation and annotation.
  • For documents with math and code, you can generate clean plain LaTeX (PDF), HTML (with MathJax and Pygments - embedded in your own templates), Sphinx for attractive web design, Markdown, IPython notebooks, HTML for Google or Wordpress blog posts, and MediaWiki. The LaTeX output has many fancy layouts for typesetting of computer code.
  • DocOnce can also output other formats (though without support for nicely typeset math and code): plain untagged text, Google wiki, Creole wiki, and reStructuredText. From Markdown or reStructuredText you can go to XML, DocBook, epub, OpenOffice/LibreOffice, MS Word, and other formats.
  • The document source is first preprocessed by Preprocess and Mako, which gives you full programming capabilities in the document's text. For example, with Mako it is easy to write a book with all computer code examples in two alternative languages (say Matlab and Python), and you can determine the language at compile time of the document. New user-specific features of DocOnce can also be implemented via Mako.
  • DocOnce extends Sphinx, Markdown, and MediaWiki output such that LaTeX align environments with labels work for systems of equations. DocOnce also adjusts Sphinx and HTML code such that it is possible to refer to equations outside the current web page.
  • DocOnce makes it very easy to write slides with math and code by stripping down running text in a report or book. LaTeX Beamer slides, HTML5 slides (reveal.js, deck.js, dzslides), and Remark (Markdown) slides are supported. Slide elements can be arranged in a grid of cells to easily control the layout.
DocOnce looks similar to Markdown, Pandoc-extended Markdown, and in particular MultiMarkdown. The main advantage of DocOnce is the richer support for writing large documents (books) with much math and code and with tailored output both in HTML and LaTeX. DocOnce also has special support for exercises, quizzes, and admonitions, three very desired features when developing educational material. Books can be composed of many smaller documents that may exist independently of the book, thus lowering the barrier of writing books (see example).


A short scientific report demonstrates the many formats that DocOnce can generate and how mathematics and computer code look like. (Note that at the bottom of the page there is a link to another version of the demo with complete DocOnce commands for producing the different versions.)

Another demo shows how DocOnce can be used to create slides in various formats (HTML5 reveal.js, deck.js, etc., as well as LaTeX Beamer).

DocOnce has support for responsive HTML documents with design and functionality based on Bootstrap styles. A demo illustrates the many possibilities for colors and layouts.

DocOnce also has support for exercises in quiz format. Pure quiz files can be automatically uploaded to Kahoot! online quiz games operated through smart phones (with the aid of quiztools for DocOnce to Kahoot! translation).

A complete book (900 pages) has been written entirely in DocOnce. The primary format is a publisher-specific LaTeX style, but HTML or Sphinx formats can easily be generated, such as this chapter in the popular Bootstrap style or the solarized color style as many prefer. Slides can quickly be generated from the raw text in the book. Here are examples in the reveal.js (HTML5) style, or the more traditional LaTeX Beamer style, and even the modern IPython notebook tool, which allows for interactive experimentation and annotation.



These documents are under development...

The tutorial presents the basic syntax and the most fundamental elements of a scientific document, while the manual has accumulated all the different features available. The most efficient way to get started is to look at the report demo and study the source code (it has basic elements such as title, author, abstract, table of contents, headings, comments, inline mathematical formulas, single/multiple equations, with and without numbering, labels, cross-references to sections and equations, bullet lists, enumerated lists, copying of computer code from files, inline computer code, index entries, figures, tables, and admonitions).


DocOnce is a pure Python package and can be installed with pip.

Terminal> sudo pip install --upgrade git+
Terminal> sudo pip install --upgrade .

However, DocOnce has a lot of dependencies, depending on what type of formats you want to work with and how advanced constructiosn that are used in the text.

With Anaconda it is trivial to install DocOnce and all dependencies by

Terminal> conda config --add channels conda-forge
Terminal> conda install doconce

As of March 2017, a few dependencies have yet to be added to the conda-forge channel, but most formats should work fine.

On Debian/Ubuntu it is fairly straightforward to get the packages you need. Basically, you can run a Bash script or an equivalent Python script. Such a script installs a very comprehensive bundle of software. You can read the Installation Guide to get a more detailed description of what is needed of software for various purposes.

Install from GitHub repo, not from Debian.

Although DocOnce is in Debian, do not run sudo apt-get install python-doconce as this gives a very old version of DocOnce that is out of sync with the documentation. Instead, clone the DocOnce GitHub repo as shown above and run pip install or use conda install.