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Very Ornate Code

So Literate Coffeescript is a cool idea, but why isn't there a standard JS or compile-to-JS version? JS Programmers want some love too! This is my effort to rectify this inequity.

  "version": "1.0.0",

How to use this

To use in-browser, include the marked source (and optionally the coffee-script source if needed):

<script src=""></script>
<script src=""></script>

This exposes a VOC object. See the complete example in

On the command line voc.njs will install as voc if done globally:

  "bin": {
    "voc": "./voc.njs"

voc will read JS/coffee. The command itself is pretty straightforward:

#!/usr/bin/env node

var myfile = process.argv[2]; if(!myfile || myfile ==='-') myfile='/dev/stdin';
var data = require('fs').readFileSync(myfile,'utf8');
var d = require('./voc').run(data);
var fs = require('fs');

If the .vocrc file exists, read it and parse for JSON:

if(fs.existsSync('.vocrc')) {
  var vocrc = JSON.parse(fs.readFileSync('.vocrc','utf8'));

The main output file is specified in the output key (this is useful for files that can be used in the browser):

  if(vocrc.output) fs.writeFileSync(vocrc.output, d);

If a post key is specified, run the command:

  if( {
    var exec = require('child_process').exec;
    var make = exec(;

If .vocrc is missing, just run and print the main output to stdout:

else console.log(d);

Additional Features

If language includes a redirect >, the command-line utility will attempt to redirect the contents to the file named after the > -- no spaces allowed. The browser version will silently ignore them. By omitting a filename, the block will be hidden.

In redirects, the file will be compiled incrementally if the file extension is .js but will be preserved if the extension is not .js.

If no language is specified, the last file behavior is inherited.

The following code block will be emitted as coffeescript

# This will be written to as coffeescript
myfile = process.argv[2]
myfile = "/dev/stdin"  if not myfile or myfile is "-"
data = require("fs").readFileSync(myfile, "utf8")
console.log require("./voc").run(data)

However, by changing the extension to .js, VOC will try to compile:

# This will be written to as coffeescript
myfile = process.argv[2]
myfile = "/dev/stdin"  if not myfile or myfile is "-"
data = require("fs").readFileSync(myfile, "utf8")
console.log require("./voc").run(data)

However, even if you put an extension .js, not including a language will pass the file as raw:

# You may think this is coffeescript, but VOC can't possibly know
console.log "this", "will", "fail"

And for good measure, to be sure we don't accidentally commit those files, the .gitignore file can be refreshed:



As described in the code below, there are two exported methods: add and run. To add your own language:

  1. Define the handler function (accepts code and returns JS)

  2. Add the language to the framework

  3. Profit!

In the code below, both JS and coffee are added.

The file in this repo shows how coffee and JS can be mixed.

The Code

Running voc against this code should produce the voc.js source. Try it!

diff <(voc voc.js

Header comes first:

var VOC = {};

handlers will store all of the handlers:

  var handlers = {};

The add function takes two parameters: a language type and a handler. If the type is an array, then each string will be a key. The > character works as described above.

  var add = function(lang, handler) {
    if(typeof lang === "string") handlers[lang] = handler; 
    else lang.forEach(function(l) { handlers[l] = handler; });

files will keep track of all of the files that have been touched. Because a file may be referenced in multiple discontiguous blocks, and since the file is written as the process continues, the first action must be a write and the others must be appends.

  var files = {};

To satiate the node gods, we must include mkdirp to support arbitrary file locations (writing to 'foo/bar' will fail unless foo exists):

  var fs = typeof require === "undefined" ? false : require('fs');
  var mkdirp = !fs ? false : function(f) { return require('./mkdirp').sync(require('path').dirname(f)); };

The default behavior is to "carry" the last language if one is omitted. As seen above, the js language tag was not applied to the last few code blocks, so the engine automatically assumes they are the same as the last known language (in this case, the js from the header block). The blocks are concatenated until a block in a different language is found, and only then will it send the entire mess through the handler.

  var lastlang="js";
  var process_code = function(src, lastlang) {

First we check if a redirect is present:

    var offset = lastlang.indexOf(">");
    if(offset !== -1) {
      var f = lastlang.substr(1+offset);
      var lang = lastlang.substr(0,offset);

If no file is specified or if we are in the browser, don't do anything:

      if(!f || !fs) return "";

If the file is specified with extension '.js', process the source (otherwise leave the source untouched):

      var s = src + "\n";
      if(f.substr(-3) === '.js') s = process_code(s, lang);

This is a quick patch for Makefiles (because the tabs need to be replaced with spaces -- markdown mandates that \t -> ' '):

      if(lang === 'make') s = process_code(s, lang);

Now we can write or append to the file:

      if(mkdirp) mkdirp(f);
      if(files[f]) fs.appendFileSync(f, s);
      else { files[f] = 1; fs.writeFileSync(f, s); }
      return "";

If there is no redirect (or if the function is being called by the case above), then we apply the appropriate handler:

    else if(!lastlang) return src;
    else if(!(lastlang in handlers)) throw "Unrecognized language " + lastlang;
    return handlers[lastlang](src);

The run function takes one parameter: the source code

  var run = function(src) {

It will first use marked's excellent lexer to extract the code blocks:

    var M = (typeof marked !== "undefined" ? marked : require('./marked'));
    var data = M.lexer(src).filter(function(y) { return y.type === 'code'; });

Then it will iterate through each code block (var t will store the final js code and var s will hold the code blocks that should be concatenated). For each code block:

If the language is specified, it differs from the last known language, and there is code to be processed, it will combine and try to process it. Otherwise, push it onto the list of code blocks in the current language:

    var t = [], s = [];
    data.forEach(function(x) {
      if(x.lang) {
        if(x.lang !== lastlang && s.length > 0) {
          var c = process_code(s.join("\n"), lastlang);
          if(c) t.push(c);
          s = [];
        lastlang = x.lang; 
      } else x.lang = lastlang;

Finally, process the last set of code blocks and return the final JS output:

    t.push(process_code(s.join("\n"), lastlang));
    return t.join("\n");

Export those functions:

  exports.add = add; = run;

Add the js and coffee standard languages:

  add(["js","javascript"], function(code) { return code; });
  add(["coffee","coffee-script"], function(code) {
    var CS = (typeof CoffeeScript !== "undefined") ? CoffeeScript : require('coffee-script');
    return CS.compile(code, {bare:true});

The Makefile magic is needed because marked doesnt preserve the tab character and because it is used frequently enough to justify special handling:

  add(["make","Makefile"], function(code) { return code.replace(/^ {8}/g,"\t").replace(/\n {8}/mg,"\n\t"); }); 

Standard Footer

})(typeof exports !== "undefined" ? exports : VOC);

And we are done!

Now for some other required fields to finish the package.json file:

  "name": "voc",
  "author": "SheetJS",
  "description": "Generalized Literate Programming Framework",
  "keywords": ["literate", "programming", "voc", "javascript"],
  "main": "voc.js",
  "files": [ "LICENSE", "", "marked.js", "mkdirp.js", "voc.js", "voc.njs" ],
  "dependencies": {},
  "devDependencies": {},
  "repository": { "type": "git", "url": "git://" },
  "homepage": "",
  "bugs": { "url": "" },
  "license": "Apache-2.0",
  "engines": { "node": ">=0.8" },
  "preferGlobal": true

And of course, how could we forget the venerable Makefile:


        ./voc.njs $^ > $@2
        mkdir -p old/
        cp $@ old/$@
        mv $@2 $@ 

Those files should be ignored by both git and npm:



Be extra careful: some of these commands replace data without warning!