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Build Status

Introduction

This repository is a set of bazel build rules that allow you to write a moderately complex book in the Markdown text format, and produce EPUB and Kindle's MOBI formats from them. You can also produce a PDF format book, which allows you to preview the results slightly more convenient than by reading the resulting books.

The build rules currently support pure Markdown formatting, LaTeX-style equations (though not cross-referencing, and in general the amount of LaTeX supported is somewhat limited).

This is not an officially supported Google product. Even though Google owns the copyright. I just happened to work there while I worked on this tool.

Prerequisites

  • bazel, for building.
  • docker, because part of the bazel build process needs docker

Quick start

If you are impatient to see the rules in action, check out an example book in a separate ebook example github repository.

Defined build rules

The build rules are defined in the file build/rules.bzl. A quick list is here:

Rule Description
asymptote(name, srcs, deps) This build rule converts Asymptote source files into images that can be included in the book. This rule can take any *.asy file in srcs and can depend on any asymptote rule in deps.
markdown_lib(name, srcs, deps) This build rule makes a library out of */md files. deps may be any markdown_lib or asymptote or other such rule, and those will be used correctly.
ebook_epub(name, deps, metadata_xml, title_yaml) This build rule assembles all markdown_lib rules in sequece and produces a book named [name].epub
ebook_kindle(name, deps, metadata_xmp, title_yaml) This build rule assembles all markdown_lib rules in sequence and produces a book named [name].mobi
ebook_pdf(name, deps, metadata_xmp, title_yaml) This build rule assembles all markdown_lib rules in sequence and produces a book named [name].pdf
dot_png(name, srcs, deps) This build rule converts a Graphviz source files into PNG images that can be included in the book. This rule can take any *.dot file in srcs and can depend on any rule in deps. The .dot file is laid out using the graphviz program dot.
neato_png(name, srcs, deps) This build rule converts a Graphviz source files into PNG images that can be included in the book. This rule can take any *.dot file in srcs and can depend on any rule in deps. The .dot file is laid out using the graphviz program neato.
plantuml_png(name, srcs, deps) This build rule converts a PlantUML source files into PNG images that can be included in the book. This rule can take any PlantUML-formatted *.txt file in srcs and can depend on any rule in deps.

Underlying software

These build rules, of course, only explain to bazel how the ebook is to be built. The actual workhorses for building are, in order, Docker, pandoc, calibre, LaTeX, Graphviz, Asymptote, and PlantUML.

These software packages are quite complex, and their installation can also be quite challenging. As I wanted to work around that complication, I devised a way to package all this software into a buildenv container and then invoke each in a special command for each action inside a custom docker container.

This means, if you can ensure that your computer has docker and bazel installed, you don't need to worry about installing any other additional software! Everything else, bazel will pull for you from the Internet.

I am kind of proud of the way this was done, and you can see some more detail in the script docker_run.sh.

Limitations

There are a few constraints to note however:

  1. Sadly, the way bazel sandboxes things puts some limitations on what rules can be included where. The general rule is, if you have a build rule in a directory X you can mention only rules that are in X itself, or a subdirectory of X, like X/dir, or X/dir1/dir2. It is not possible to refer to X/dir1:rule from X/dir2:rule.

  2. The build rules pull the container filipfilmar/ebook-buildenv from the Internet. While I know what is inside (and you can check the intended contents in docker/), it's still your build system downloading random stuff from the Internet and running on your machine. This may be OK for you to the extent that you trust me to provide you with the software that I tell you I'm providing.

    In case this doesn't fulfill your trust criteria, you are of course free to fork this repository, and use your own buildenv, since all the recipes are there.

    Another possibility, which has been left for some future, is to add the container build and upload recipes to these rules, so that you can choose to build and use your own container easily.

  3. As currently written, the rules probably only work on Linux, which is the same platform as my dev box. It should in principle be possible to rig the build rules so that they do the correct thing cross-platform, but I don't have an immediate plan to do so, as long as the rules satisfy my own needs.

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bazel build rules for creating ebooks in PDF, EPUB and MOBI format

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