Tcl Library Source Code

EuroTcl/OpenACS 11 - 12 JULY 2024, VIENNA

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doctools_intro - doctools introduction

Table Of Contents


doctools (short for documentation tools) stands for a set of related, yet different, entities which are working together for the easy creation and transformation of documentation. These are

  1. A tcl based language for the semantic markup of text. Markup is represented by Tcl commands interspersed with the actual text.

  2. A package providing the ability to read and transform texts written in that markup language. It is important to note that the actual transformation of the input text is delegated to plugins.

  3. An API describing the interface between the package above and a plugin.

Which of the more detailed documents are relevant to the reader of this introduction depends on their role in the documentation process.

  1. A writer of documentation has to understand the markup language itself. A beginner to doctools should read the more informally written doctools language introduction first. Having digested this the formal doctools language syntax specification should become understandable. A writer experienced with doctools may only need the doctools language command reference from time to time to refresh her memory.

    While a document is written the dtplite application can be used to validate it, and after completion it also performs the conversion into the chosen system of visual markup, be it *roff, HTML, plain text, wiki, etc.

  2. A processor of documentation written in the doctools markup language has to know which tools are available for use.

    The main tool is the aforementioned dtplite application provided by Tcllib. A more powerful one (in terms of options and ability to configure it) is the dtp application, provided by Tclapps. At the bottom level, common to both applications, however sits the package doctools, providing the basic facilities to read and process files containing text in the doctools format.

  3. At last, but not least, plugin writers have to understand the interaction between the doctools package and its plugins, as described in the doctools plugin API reference.


doctools does not stand alone, it has two companion formats. These are called docidx and doctoc, and they are for the markup of keyword indices, and tables of contents, respectively. They are described in their own sets of documents, starting at the docidx introduction and the doctoc introduction, respectively.

Bugs, Ideas, Feedback

This document, and the package it describes, will undoubtedly contain bugs and other problems. Please report such in the category doctools of the Tcllib Trackers. Please also report any ideas for enhancements you may have for either package and/or documentation.

When proposing code changes, please provide unified diffs, i.e the output of diff -u.

Note further that attachments are strongly preferred over inlined patches. Attachments can be made by going to the Edit form of the ticket immediately after its creation, and then using the left-most button in the secondary navigation bar.


docidx_intro, doctoc_intro, doctools, doctools_lang_cmdref, doctools_lang_faq, doctools_lang_intro, doctools_lang_syntax, doctools_plugin_apiref


markup, semantic markup


Documentation tools


Copyright © 2007 Andreas Kupries