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The ivoaTeX document preparation system

IvoaTeX is a TeX-based software for authoring IVOA standards and Notes. Authors are encouraged to use it in connection with a version controlled repository.

The design goals are:

  • version-controlled (or at least controllable) source file(s),
  • reasonable-quality PDF and HTML output,
  • low to moderate installation effort (on POSIX systems with LaTeX),
  • support with routine drudgery.

Getting ivoaTeX

IvoaTeX is designed to be included with the document source, preferably via mechanisms of the version control system chosen (e.g., svn:externals or git submodule).

IvoaTeX is currently maintained in two places:

Because of this situation, some of the points below are mentioned twice, once for github and once for volute.

The two locations are being kept in sync manually.

Crib Sheet

For your convenience (you should skim over the note anyway), here's a few crib sheets on ivoaTeX operation.

Installing the dependencies

Debian-derived systems:

apt-get install build-essential texlive-latex-extra zip xsltproc\
  texlive-bibtex-extra imagemagick ghostscript cm-super librsvg2-bin


dnf install texlive-scheme-full libxslt make gcc zip\
  ImageMagick ghostscript

Mac OS X with MacPorts:

port install ImageMagick  libxslt ghostscript texlive +full

Checking Out and Building a Document from Volute

Where documents are still developed on the Volute VCS, use something like the following to build a document; in the example, the ivoatex documentation is built:

svn co
cd ivoatexDoc
make biblio
make forcetex

Then start your favourite PDF viewer on ivoatexDoc.pdf.

Checking Out a Standard from Github and Building it

Documents developed on github can be built like this:

git clone --recurse-submodules
make biblio
make forcetex

This produces the standards document ADQL.pdf.

Automatic PDF preview in GitHub

To enable the automatic generation of a PDF preview in GitHub:

make github-preview
git commit -m 'Add/Update GH-Workflows for PDF Preview'
git push

Once the generated files pushed on GitHub, this will produce a PDF preview after each pushed commit. This PDF will be available in the GitHub's Pre-Release Auto PDF Preview.

You may want to have a link toward this PDF preview. For this, you can add the clickable badge returned by the make command into your

A PDF preview is also generated at each update of a PullRequest. To get it, go on the page of your PullRequest, click on the tab Checks and then on Artifacts. This artifact will be automatically deleted after some time.


Documentation on ivoatex, including a chapter on a quick start, is given in the IVOA note The IVOATeX Document Preparation System.

Extra Points for git operation

(This is a temporary accumulator for git-related stuff that should go into ivoatexDoc once it's stabilised)

(1) VCS info in the documents: ivoatex 1.2, sect 3.8 is svn-specific. To have info on the git commit in the document heading, instead do:

  • Add gitmeta.tex to SOURCES in the Makefile
  • Say \input gitmeta right below \input tthdefs in your document.


In case of ivoatex-related issues, contact, or file an issue at github.


The immediate predecessor of this is the document generation system created by Mark Taylor for SAMP and VOTable; essentially, this is a generalisation of Mark's work. This, in turn, built on work done by Sebastien Derriere.

Another inspiration was Paul Harrison's ivoadoc system; in particular, parts of the XSL style sheet were taken from there, as well as the idea of using svn:externals.

The document generation from XML schema files was adapted from XSLT stylesheets written by Ray Plante.


The fonts embedded in the architecture diagram are derived from Liberation Sans and Liberation Sans Mono in the following way:

pyftsubset /usr/share/fonts/truetype/ttf-liberation/LiberationSansNarrow-Regular.ttf --unicodes="20,41-5a,61-7a" --output-file="lsn-sub.ttf"
pyftsubset /usr/share/fonts/truetype/ttf-liberation/LiberationSans-Regular.ttf --unicodes="20,41-5a,61-7a" --output-file="ls-sub.ttf"

What is inserted into the CSS within the XSLT is then the output of:

base64 -w0 ls-sub.ttf


Unless stated otherwise in the files, ivoatex is (c) 2014-2019, the GAVO project and can be used and distributed under the GNU General Public License (ask for additional licenses if you're unhappy with the GPL). See COPYING for details.

The files in tth_C have their own license. See there for details.

The font excerpts in the architecture diagram are (C) 2007 Red Hat, Inc. All rights reserved and are used in compliance with GPL exception (a) in Red Hat's license agreement.