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Asciidoctor Docs UI

Latest Release Deploy Status

This project provides the UI for the Asciidoctor docs site. It provides both the visual theme and user interactions for the docs site. The UI bundle that this project produces is designed to be used with Antora. It bundles the HTML templates (layouts, partials, and helpers), CSS, JavaScript, fonts, and site-wide images. The rest of the material for the docs site comes from the content repositories.


To use this UI with Antora, add the following configuration to the playbook file for your site:


Read on to learn how to develop the UI.

Development Quickstart

This section offers a basic tutorial to teach you how to set up the UI project, preview it locally, and bundle it for use with Antora. A more comprehensive tutorial can be found in the documentation at


To preview and bundle the UI, you need the following software on your computer:

  • git (command: git)

  • Node.js (commands: node, npm, and npx)


First, make sure you have git installed.

$ git --version

If not, download and install the git package for your system.


Next, make sure that you have Node.js installed (which also provides npm).

$ node --version

If this command fails with an error, you don’t have Node.js installed. If the command doesn’t report an active LTS version of Node.js (e.g., v16.16.0), it means you don’t have a suitable version of Node.js installed. In this guide, we’ll be installing Node.js 16.

While you can install Node.js from the official packages, we strongly recommend that you use nvm (Node Version Manager) to manage your Node.js installation(s). Follow the nvm installation instructions to set up nvm on your machine.

Once you’ve installed nvm, open a new terminal and install Node.js 16 using the following command:

$ nvm install 16

You can switch to this version of Node.js at any time using the following command:

$ nvm use 16

To make Node.js 16 the default in new terminals, type:

$ nvm alias default 16

Now that you have Node.js installed, you can proceed with cloning and initializing the project.

Clone and Initialize the UI Project

Clone the UI project using git:

$ git clone &&
  cd "`basename $_`"

The example above clones the UI project and then switches to the project folder on your filesystem. Stay in this project folder when executing all subsequent commands.

Use npm to install the project’s dependencies inside the project. In your terminal, execute the following command:

$ npm ci

This command installs the dependencies listed in package.json into the node_modules/ folder inside the project. This folder does not get included in the UI bundle and should not be committed to the source control repository.

Preview the UI

The UI project is configured to preview offline. The files in the preview-site-src/ folder provide the sample content that allow you to see the UI in action. In this folder, you’ll primarily find pages written in AsciiDoc. These pages provide a representative sample and kitchen sink of content from the real site.

To build the UI and preview it in a local web server, run the preview command:

$ npx gulp preview

Alternatively, you can use the following command:

$ npm start

When using npm start, you don’t have to prefix the npm command with npx.

You’ll see a URL listed in the output of this command:

[12:00:00] Starting server...
[12:00:00] Server started http://localhost:5252
[12:00:00] Running server

Navigate to this URL to preview the site locally.

While this command is running, any changes you make to the source files will be instantly reflected in the browser. This works by monitoring the project for changes, running the preview:build task if a change is detected, and sending the updates to the browser.

Press Ctrl+C to stop the preview server and end the continuous build.

Package for Use with Antora

If you need to package the UI so you can use it to generate the documentation site locally, run the following command:

$ npx gulp bundle

If any errors are reported by lint, you’ll need to fix them.

When the command completes successfully, the UI bundle will be available at build/ You can point Antora at this bundle using the --ui-bundle-url command-line option.

If you have the preview running, and you want to bundle without causing the preview to be clobbered, use:

$ npx gulp bundle:pack

The UI bundle will again be available at build/

Source Maps

The build consolidates all the CSS and client-side JavaScript into combined files, site.css and site.js, respectively, in order to reduce the size of the bundle. Source maps correlate these combined files with their original sources.

This “source mapping” is accomplished by generating additional map files that make this association. These map files sit adjacent to the combined files in the build folder. The mapping they provide allows the debugger to present the original source rather than the obfuscated file, an essential tool for debugging.

In preview mode, source maps are enabled automatically, so there’s nothing you have to do to make use of them. If you need to include source maps in the bundle, you can do so by setting the SOURCEMAPS environment varible to true when you run the bundle command:

$ SOURCEMAPS=true npx gulp bundle

In this case, the bundle will include the source maps, which can be used for debuggging your production site.

Create an Online Preview

You can share a preview of the UI online by submitting a pull request to GitHub. The repository is configured to create a deploy preview on Netlify for every pull request. Here’s how that process works:

  1. Fork the repository on GitHub (only has to be done once).

  2. Create a local branch.

  3. Make changes to the UI.

  4. Commit your changes to that branch.

  5. Push that branch to your fork (on GitHub).

  6. Submit a pull request from the branch you pushed to your fork.

  7. Wait for deploy/netlify check to say “Deploy preview ready!” on the pull request page.

  8. Click on the “Details” link under “Show all checks” on the pull request page to get the preview URL.

  9. Visit the preview URL to view your changes or share the preview URL with others.

The deploy preview works because there is a webhook on the repository that pings for the following events: push, pull_request, delete_branch. Netlify then runs the command specified in netlify.toml, deploys the site, and allocates a temporary preview URL for it.

Included in that temporary preview URL is the UI bundle itself. That means you can test it directly with Antora. To access the UI bundle, append dist/ to the end of the preview URL, then pass that URL to Antora as follows:

$ antora --ui-bundle-url=<preview URL>/dist/ antora-playbook.yml

The temporary preview URL will automatically be decommissioned once the PR is closed.


Releases are handled by the npx gulp release task, which is automated by a CI job. The release process boils down to the following steps:

  1. Pack the UI bundle.

  2. Tag the git repository using the next version number in the sequence (e.g., v100 after v99)

  3. Create a GitHub release from that git tag.

  4. Attach the UI bundle to that release as an asset in zip format.

  5. Update the README to reference the URL of the lastest bundle and commit that update to the repository.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do any of these steps yourself. These steps are fully automated by the npx gulp release task. In fact, you don’t even have to run this task. Whenever a commit is pushed to the master branch of the repository, it triggers the CI job on master, which executes the npx gulp release task using pre-configured credentials.

A release will only be made if the project validates (i.e., all lint tasks pass). To validate the project, run npx gulp lint before pushing your changes to GitHub.

The CI job is already configured, so there’s nothing you need to do to make automated release work. All you have to do is commit your changes and push those commits to the master branch of the git repository. A few seconds later, a new bundle will be available for use with Antora. Run git pull to retrieve the updated README that includes the new URL.

If you want to commit a change to master without making a release, add the string [skip ci] to the end of the commit message.

The next two sections document how the CI job is set up an configured.

Release Task Prerequisites

In addition to the Prerequisites covered above, you’ll need a personal access token for the automated GitHub account, asciidoctor-docbot, so it has permission to make changes to the repository on GitHub. The asciidoctor-docbot account will need at least write access to the repository, though admin access is recommended.

Start by creating a personal access token for the asciidoctor-docbot user. The release task relies on this token to interact with the GitHub API to create the tag, create the release, and attach the UI bundle. The token must have the public_repo scope. No other scopes are required (as long as the asciidoctor-docbot user has write access to the repository).

CI Job

The asciidoctor/asciidoctor-docs-ui/actions[CI job] is executed by GitHub Actions and is defined in the file .github/workflows/release.yml. It boils down to running the npx gulp release task on the main branch. The GITHUB_API_TOKEN environment variable is defined in the job configuration.

Once the CI job runs and a new UI bundle is available, you can update the URL of the UI bundle in the Antora playbook file. See Usage for details.


This project is a derivative of the Antora default UI. The software assets in this repository (Gulp build script and tasks, web JavaScript files, Handlebars templates and JavaScript helpers, common CSS, utility icons, etc.) come from the Antora project. As such, use of the software is granted under the terms of the Mozilla Public License Version 2.0 (MPL-2.0). See LICENSE to find the full license text.

Branding and Design

Copyright © Asciidoctor 2018-present. This includes any CSS that provides colors or iconography that depict the Asciidoctor brand. All rights reserved (until further notice).


The project that produces the UI (theme & user interactions) for



Code of conduct




Contributors 4