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mdBook is a utility to create modern online books from Markdown files.

What does it look like?

The User Guide for mdBook has been written in Markdown and is using mdBook to generate the online book-like website you can read. The documentation uses the latest version on GitHub and showcases the available features.


There are multiple ways to install mdBook.

  1. Binaries

    Binaries are available for download here. Make sure to put the path to the binary into your PATH.

  2. From

    This requires at least Rust 1.39 and Cargo to be installed. Once you have installed Rust, type the following in the terminal:

    cargo install mdbook

    This will download and compile mdBook for you, the only thing left to do is to add the Cargo bin directory to your PATH.

    Note for automatic deployment

    If you are using a script to do automatic deployments using Travis or another CI server, we recommend that you specify a semver version range for mdBook when you install it through your script!

    This will constrain the server to install the latest non-breaking version of mdBook and will prevent your books from failing to build because we released a new version.

    You can also disable default features to speed up compile time.


    cargo install mdbook --no-default-features --features output --vers "^0.1.0"
  3. From Git

    The version published to will ever so slightly be behind the version hosted here on GitHub. If you need the latest version you can build the git version of mdBook yourself. Cargo makes this super easy!

    cargo install --git mdbook

    Again, make sure to add the Cargo bin directory to your PATH.

  4. For Contributions

    If you want to contribute to mdBook you will have to clone the repository on your local machine:

    git clone

    cd into mdBook/ and run

    cargo build

    The resulting binary can be found in mdBook/target/debug/ under the name mdBook or mdBook.exe.


mdBook is primarily used as a command line tool, even though it exposes all its functionality as a Rust crate for integration in other projects.

Here are the main commands you will want to run. For a more exhaustive explanation, check out the User Guide.

  • mdbook init

    The init command will create a directory with the minimal boilerplate to start with.

    ├── book
    └── src

    book and src are both directories. src contains the markdown files that will be used to render the output to the book directory.

    Please, take a look at the CLI docs for more information and some neat tricks.

  • mdbook build

    This is the command you will run to render your book, it reads the file to understand the structure of your book, takes the markdown files in the source directory as input and outputs static html pages that you can upload to a server.

  • mdbook watch

    When you run this command, mdbook will watch your markdown files to rebuild the book on every change. This avoids having to come back to the terminal to type mdbook build over and over again.

  • mdbook serve

    Does the same thing as mdbook watch but additionally serves the book at http://localhost:3000 (port is changeable) and reloads the browser when a change occurs.

  • mdbook clean

    Delete directory in which generated book is located.

3rd Party Plugins

The way a book is loaded and rendered can be configured by the user via third party plugins. These plugins are just programs which will be invoked during the build process and are split into roughly two categories, preprocessors and renderers.

Preprocessors are used to transform a book before it is sent to a renderer. One example would be to replace all occurrences of {{#include some_file.ext}} with the contents of that file. Some existing preprocessors are:

  • index - a built-in preprocessor (enabled by default) which will transform all chapters to so foo/ can be accessed via the url foo/ when published to a browser
  • links - a built-in preprocessor (enabled by default) for expanding the {{# playground}} and {{# include}} helpers in a chapter.

Renderers are given the final book so they can do something with it. This is typically used for, as the name suggests, rendering the document in a particular format, however there's nothing stopping a renderer from doing static analysis of a book in order to validate links or run tests. Some existing renderers are:

  • html - the built-in renderer which will generate a HTML version of the book
  • markdown - the built-in renderer (disabled by default) which will run preprocessors then output the resulting Markdown. Useful for debugging preprocessors.
  • linkcheck - a backend which will check that all links are valid
  • epub - an experimental EPUB generator

Note for Developers: Feel free to send us a PR if you've developed your own plugin and want it mentioned here.

A preprocessor or renderer is enabled by installing the appropriate program and then mentioning it in the book's book.toml file.

$ cargo install mdbook-linkcheck
$ edit book.toml && cat book.toml
title = "My Awesome Book"
authors = ["Michael-F-Bryan"]


[output.linkcheck]  # enable the "mdbook-linkcheck" renderer

$ mdbook build
2018-10-20 13:57:51 [INFO] (mdbook::book): Book building has started
2018-10-20 13:57:51 [INFO] (mdbook::book): Running the html backend
2018-10-20 13:57:53 [INFO] (mdbook::book): Running the linkcheck backend

For more information on the plugin system, consult the User Guide.

As a library

Aside from the command line interface, this crate can also be used as a library. This means that you could integrate it in an existing project, like a web-app for example. Since the command line interface is just a wrapper around the library functionality, when you use this crate as a library you have full access to all the functionality of the command line interface with an easy to use API and more!

See the User Guide and the API docs for more information.


Contributions are highly appreciated and encouraged! Don't hesitate to participate to discussions in the issues, propose new features and ask for help.

If you are just starting out with Rust, there are a series of issues that are tagged E-Easy and we will gladly mentor you so that you can successfully go through the process of fixing a bug or adding a new feature! Let us know if you need any help.

For more info about contributing, check out our contribution guide which helps you go through the build and contribution process!

There is also a rendered version of the latest API docs available, for those hacking on master.


All the code in this repository is released under the Mozilla Public License v2.0, for more information take a look at the LICENSE file.


Create book from markdown files. Like Gitbook but implemented in Rust







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