Skip to content


Switch branches/tags

Latest commit


Git stats


Failed to load latest commit information. -- class macro() -- BETA

Also see: project file descriptions


Sometimes a demo is worth a thousand words. Or, read on:

I don't use WYSIWYG HTML/CSS editors, as they may generate sub-par code, may break with any application or library or operating system upgrade, and in the end, I have zero control over where and when they break, or any particular assurance I can easily correct the problem(s) if and when they occur. So something to make generation of HTML and CSS easier, of which I had direct control... and which depended upon nothing outside of Python itself... that really seemed like a fine idea to me. And so class macro() was born. :)

This project provides a means for me, and anyone else who wants to, to generate HTML or other types of text documents using Python as the intermediary engine. There are no external dependencies that aren't actually part of the latest Python 2-series distribution. (This began as Python-2 project. There is a development Python-3 version in the repo as well, and again, there are no non-distribution-Python dependencies.)

Consequently the class is relatively lightweight and trivially installed — just drop the (or file in and you're done. You'll probably want the aagen utility as well if you're looking to just make documents, but you don't need it if you're going to be using the class directly in your own Python applications; aagen is basically just a command-line friendly wrapper around the class.

Please don't be intimidated by the number of files in the repo; everything except is either documentation, sample files, part of the unit tests, or related to a markdown-to-macro format converter utility.

The benefit is conceptually like markdown — just feed in a text file and get back HTML — but macro() is much, much more powerful.

macro() is a terrific solution to a very wide range of HTML formatting tasks and challenges. You can do anything from format a simple paragraph to generate a complete manual with indexes, table of contents, footnotes, completely custom styles and more.

macro() can be extended or altered in any way by external plug-ins.

One of the reasons that macro() is more powerful is that although the idea is similar in that it enables you to generate HTML easily and that it can certainly be easily readable if used in the simple ways such as one uses markdown, it does not embrace the idea that a text source file should look like an unmarked file, or that functionality should be sacrificed because complex functionality might not be as readable.

Consider: have you seen much markdown actually displayed as text? Personally, I don't see that characteristic as valuable in and of itself -- by far, based on how it is used, the more valuable characteristic is that it is readable, which is not the same thing at all as "looks like unmarked text." You can approach macro() the same way, aiming at the same types of markup, and it'll be perfectly readable -- it just won't look like it is unmarked.

Here are some comparisons relevant to markdown that demonstrate the readability of basic markup:

Desired Result Markdown macro()
Italics *verbiage* [i verbiage]
Bold **verbiage** [b verbiage]
Paragraph verbiage [p verbiage]
List * item1
* item2
[ul item1,item2]

or, if you prefer,


Use is trivial:

from aa_macro import *
mod = macro()
textToProcess = '[b Boldly said]'	# results in <strong>Boldly said</strong>
processedText =

That's basically all there is to it.

Here's a quick introduction to the concept of a style in the context of macro(). You define a style by giving it a name, and then filling it with... goodies. :) It has a special goodie, the [b] tag (no parameters), which fills in with the content you feed the style. Here is the idea in a nutshell:

[style hi Why hello, [b], how are you?]

Which you use like this...

{hi Ben}

...which would in turn result in:

Why hello, Ben, how are you?

You can also pass multiple parameters, splitting them up any way you like; commas, vbars, etc.

What this means is that you can easily create an enormous range of text macros, even to the point of completely replacing the standard ones supplied in class macro().

For instance, macro() provides [i textToItalicize] for italic text. But you can do this...

[style i <em>[b]</em>]

...and then use the following, which doesn't use the built-in:

{i textToItalicize}

Once the style is defined the way you want it, it does all the work. So you can customize it any way you want to. You could easily build a set of styles that would give you correct HTML for any revision of the HTML spec. The flexibility of this approach is very high.

From here, we step into far more powerful (and interesting, I think) areas of formatting and then some blatantly tricky use of styles as well.

I'll give one example (Okay, two examples, thanks a lot, Blake 🤘) here using several features; but macro() offers a wide range of features beyond this, so don't think for a moment that this in any way represents a limit on what you can do.

[local chapter Introduction to the Work]
[style h1 <h1>[v [b]]</h1>]

{h1 chapter}

The first line sets a local variable named chapter to "Introduction to the Work"

The second line:

  • creates a style that uses [v [b]] to produce the content of the variable name which is provided as the body of the style.
  • wraps that in <h1> and </h1> tags

The third line invokes the style with the name of the variable.

This produces the following HTML:

<h1>Introduction to the Work</h1>

The utility of such a thing is that first, the chapter name can now be referenced anywhere, and changed at any time, because it is a variable (a local... globals are supported as well); while the h1 style shows how you can wrap anything - in this case the content of the variable name passed in - in any other tags or encodings you wish. Second, it is much more concise than what you'd have to write using raw HTML and CSS. Third, like CSS, you can pack away your styles and build a library, or libraries, of tools that do exactly what you want them to.

A (much) more complex example

So, my friend looked at an earlier version of this readme, and he, in a fit of Perl-like cognition, says to me:

" rather than this: {h1 chapter} I'd like {h1 $chapter}"

Personally, not my thing. However. Here's a style that distinguishes between $chapter and chapter, treating the former as a variable name to resolve, and the latter as a literal (you can break styles over multiple lines after the style name and/or within any content destined for output)...

[style v
[if [slice :1,[b]] $ [v [slice 1:,[b]]]]
[else [slice :1,[b]] $ [b]]] now you can do this...

{v chapter} which produces "chapter"
...or this...
{v $chapter} which produces "Introduction to the Work"

With style v in the can, so to speak, now we can write the h1 style this way:

[style h1 <h1>{v [b]}</h1>]

So now to use h1 you could write:

{h1 $chapter} which would get you....

<h1>Introduction to the Work</h1> opposed to:

{h1 chapter} which gets you...


And, now that you have the v style written, you can use it anywhere:

[style italic [i {v [b]}]]

or, more concisely...

[style i [i {v [b]}]] be used like this (either style i or style italic work as of now):

{i chapter} which gets you "chapter"
{i $chapter} which gets you "Introduction to the Work"

Same friend: "So what if I want to feed in $chapter as a literal?"

One way is with an escape mechanism for $. Here's how to do that using the HTML entity for "$":

[style $ &#36;]

Now we can do these things:

{i {$}chapter} = "$chapter"
{i chapter} = "chapter"
{i $chapter} = "Introduction to the Work"

Too Terse?

Oh, say it isn't so! Well, it probably is. But it doesn't matter, really, because you can make it read and work any way you want. Let's just go after that [v] idiom. To refresh your memory, [v] pulls a local variable by name (or a global if there is no local) and returns the content. I found [v] to be sufficient, being just that kind of terse, annoying person. But you, perhaps you would like something a bit more... explicit. And here we find the gold, as it were:

Starting from ground zero, where this functionality exists:

[v variableName]


[style read-variable [v [b]]]

...creates the ability to do this:

{read-variable variableName}

Not so terse now, is it?

You can re-define anything. Make macro() your own in every way. It's easy and it's fun. Well, I think it's fun. But again, I'm a little odd. :)


At the top of the class in the file, all the various features are described in what amounts to a quick-reference style format. At the end of the import library containing the class there are a series of examples that will execute if you simply type this at the command line:


Finally, and much more completely, there is the user guide, as well as the quick reference



Power up your text processing via macros






No releases published


No packages published