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ReSpec is a JS library that makes it easier to write technical specifications, or documents that tend to be technical in nature in general. It was originally designed for the purpose of writing W3C specifications, but has since grown to be able to support other outputs as well.

Important Note

ReSpec is not endorsed by W3C and nobody should expect the W3C Webmaster to provide advice on problems encountered with ReSpec, or on why it may be failing to produce pubrules-compliant content.

Want to change a bibliographical reference?

Bibliographical references have been moved out of ReSpec. You want to use this:

Want to see complete documentation?

Thorough documentation for ReSpec can be found at, with a github repository for the sources at

What is this version of ReSpec?

There is the original version of ReSpec that can be found in, known as v1. That version is the most popular, but is restricted to producing W3C specifications and the code was organically grown over time in a manner that is not extremely user-friendly or easy to maintain.

Then there is ReSpec v2 which can be found at It is flexible, modular, and has a number of nice features. But the problem is that it was never completely finished, and in the meantime v1 has continued to be patched for bugs. This leads to a situation in which v2 is not a proper superset of v1, and patches to the latter have to be rewritten completely to also apply to v2. Obviously, that's not a desirable situation.

The version in this repository here is “ReSpec: Evolution”. What I've done is essentially that I've imported the v1 source here. I am very quickly going to make a few very small changes to it so as to make it 100% compatible with the existing v1 but to start making use of the flexible loading facility included in v2. Then I will cease all development on the other two versions, making this the only canonical option. Since it will start off v1 it will be guaranteed compatible, but it will progressively be rewritten over time to attain v2's features — without the synchronisation problems.

How to contribute?

It is common for people to contribute to RS, notably to make changes to the biblio references. You certainly are welcome to submit whatever change you wish to (though if it's a complex feature please try to coordinate with others first to avoid working long on something that will then be rejected).

If you're familiar with GitHub then contributing is simple: just fork and make pull requests. Please just be careful to note that the primary branch is gh-pages and not master (this ensures that the result gets published on the Web). More importantly, please note that the development branch is develop. If you are making patches and pull requests, please base them off this branch.

If you're not familiar with GitHub, you need to follow the following steps:

  • Get a GitHub account. This is done quickly, and the GH people will not bother you at all. Plus, it's pretty much a requirement for the majority of OSS communities these days.
  • If all you want to make is a small, simple change, you can use the Web interface. Navigate to the file that you want to change, click “Edit this file” in the toolbar, then save your changes — they will get sent to the project for approval (which ought to be quick).
  • If you wish to make more complex changes, you will need to fork the project (click “Fork”), clone the resulting repository, make the changes there, and push it back. Then click the “Pull Request” button. This allows you to request that the project integrate your changes. Those should normally get processed relatively fast (depending on how complex they are).

Running the test suite

Respec runs a number of high level, end-to-end tests using Jasmine. These tests are run by Travis, a hosted continuous integration solution, on each pull requests.

There are two options to run these tests locally: in a browser or using PhantomJS.

Running the test suite in a browser

Tests need to be served from the root of the repository to function properly. Any server will do, but here's an example using Python's SimpleHTTPServer:

$ cd /path/to/repo/
$ python -m SimpleHTTPServer
Serving HTTP on port 8000 ...

Navigating to http://localhost:8000/tests/SpecRunner.html with any recent browser will launch the test suite.

Running the test suite in PhantomJS

PhantomJS is a headless, WebKit-based browser. It allows running the tests directly from the command line.

In order to run the test from the command line, you need to install Node, npm and PhantomJS. Note that npm comes bundled with recent versions of Node.

Once these dependencies are installed, running the test suite should be as simple as:

$ npm test

Building ReSpec

Whenever you run the test suite a new build is made for you. You can run tools/test-build.js to obtain the same result.

Releasing ReSpec

Normally, only the maintainers make releases. But in the eventuality that they aren't available, others can follow this process:

  1. Make sure you are up to date and on the develop branch (git up; git checkout develop)
  2. Bump the version in package.json.
  3. Run the build script (node tools/build-w3c-common.js). This should respond "OK!" (if not, fix the issue).
  4. Add the new build (git add builds/respec-w3c-common-3.x.y.js).
  5. Commit your changes (git commit -am v3.x.y)
  6. Merge to gh-pages (git checkout gh-pages; git merge develop)
  7. Tag the release (git tag v3.x.y) and be sure that git is pushing tags.
  8. Push everything back to the server (make sure you are pushing at least the develop and gh-pages branches).

The simplest way of doing this, is to just run tools/release.js. This will prompt you a few times with the above process. Note that you will need gpg and a key with which to sign the tag.

That should be all. Normally, within a few minutes the W3C server will have picked up, gzipped, and published the latest and greatest version.


Specification Edition Support Tool






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