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Gitit is a wiki program written in Haskell. It uses Happstack for the web server and pandoc for markup processing. Pages and uploaded files are stored in a git or darcs repository and may be modified either by using the VCS's command-line tools or through the wiki's web interface. By default, pandoc's extended version of markdown is used as a markup language, but reStructuredText, LaTeX, or HTML can also be used. Pages can be exported in a number of different formats, including LaTeX, RTF, OpenOffice ODT, and MediaWiki markup. Gitit can be configured to display TeX math (using jsMath) and highlighted source code (using highlighting-kate).

Getting started

Compiling and installing gitit

You'll need the GHC compiler and the cabal-install tool. GHC can be downloaded here. Note that, starting with release 0.5, GHC 6.10 or higher is required. For cabal-install on *nix, follow the [quick install][] instructions.

[quick install]: Installation on Unix

Once you've got cabal-install, installing gitit is trivial:

cabal update
cabal install gitit

These commands will install the latest released version of gitit. To install a version of gitit checked out from the repository, change to the gitit directory and type:

cabal install

The cabal tool will automatically install all of the required haskell libraries. If all goes well, by the end of this process, the latest release of gitit will be installed in your local .cabal directory. You can check this by trying:

gitit --version

If that doesn't work, check to see that gitit is in your local cabal-install executable directory (usually ~/.cabal/bin). And make sure ~/.cabal/bin is in your system path.

Optional syntax highlighting support

If pandoc was compiled with optional syntax highlighting support, this will be available in gitit too. This feature is recommended if you plan to display source code on your wiki.

Highlighting support requires the pcre library, so make sure that is installed before continuing.

To install gitit with highlighting support, first ensure that pandoc is compiled with highlighting support, then install gitit as above:

cabal install pandoc -fhighlighting --reinstall
cabal install gitit

Optional plugins support

Plugins are small Haskell programs that transform a wiki page after it has been converted from Markdown or RST. See the example plugins in the plugins directory. To enable a plugin, include the path to the plugin (or its module name) in the plugins field of the configuration file. (If the plugin name starts with Network.Gitit.Plugin., gitit will assume that the plugin is an installed module and will not look for a source file.)

The gitit executable will be much larger if plugins support is compiled in. Plugin support is disabled by default. To enable support for plugins, pass the plugins flag to Cabal:

cabal install gitit -fplugins

Note also that if you compile gitit for executable profiling, attempts to load plugins will result in "internal error: PAP object entered!"

Running gitit

To run gitit, you'll need git in your system path. (Or darcs, if you're using darcs to store the wiki data.)

Gitit assumes that the page files (stored in the git repository) are encoded as UTF-8. Even page names may be UTF-8 if the file system supports this. So you should make sure that you are using a UTF-8 locale when running gitit. (To check this, type locale.)

Switch to the directory where you want to run gitit. This should be a directory where you have write access, since three directories, static, templates, and wikidata, and two files, gitit-users and gitit.log, will be created here. To start gitit, just type:


If all goes well, gitit will do the following:

  1. Create a git repository, wikidata, and add a default front page.
  2. Create a static directory containing the scripts, images, and stylesheets used by gitit.
  3. Create a templates directory containing HStringTemplate templates for wiki pages.
  4. Start a web server on port 5001.

Check that it worked: open a web browser and go to http://localhost:5001.

Using gitit

Wiki links and formatting

For instructions on editing pages and creating links, see the "Help" page.

Gitit interprets links with empty URLs as wikilinks. Thus, in markdown pages, [Front Page]() creates an internal wikilink to the page Front Page. In reStructuredText pages, `Front Page <>`_ has the same effect.

If you want to link to a directory listing for a subdirectory, use a trailing slash: [foo/bar/]() creates a link to the directory for foo/bar.

Page metadata

Pages may optionally begin with a metadata block. Here is an example:

format: latex+lhs
categories: haskell math
toc: no
title: Haskell and
  Category Theory

\section{Why Category Theory?}

The metadata block consists of a list of key-value pairs, each on a separate line. If needed, the value can be continued on one or more additional line, which must begin with a space. (This is illustrated by the "title" example above.) The metadata block must begin with a line --- and end with a line ... followed by one or more blank lines. (The metadata block is a valid YAML document, though not all YAML documents will be valid metadata blocks.)

Currently the following keys are supported:

format : Overrides the default page type as specified in the configuration file. Possible values are markdown, rst, latex, html, markdown+lhs, rst+lhs, latex+lhs. (Capitalization is ignored, so you can also use LaTeX, HTML, etc.) The +lhs variants indicate that the page is to be interpreted as literate Haskell. If this field is missing, the default page type will be used.

categories : A space or comma separated list of categories to which the page belongs.

toc : Overrides default setting for table-of-contents in the configuration file. Values can be yes, no, true, or false (capitalization is ignored).

title : By default the displayed page title is the page name. This metadata element overrides that default.

Configuring gitit

Configuration options

You can set some configuration options when starting gitit, using the option -f [filename]. To get a copy of the default configuration file, which you can customize, just type:

gitit --print-default-config > default.conf

The default configuration file is documented with comments throughout.

The static directory

If there is no wiki page or uploaded file corresponding to a request, gitit always looks last in the static directory. So, for example, a file foo.jpg in the img subdirectory of the static directory will be accessible at the url /img/foo.jpg. Pandoc creates three subdirectories of static, css, img, and js, which include the icons, stylesheets, and javascripts it uses.

Note: if you set static-dir to be a subdirectory of repository-path, and then add the files in the static directory to your repository, you can ensure that others who clone your wiki repository get these files as well. It will not be possible to modify these files using the web interface, but they will be modifiable via git.

Using darcs instead of git

By default, gitit will store wiki pages in a git repository in the wikidata directory. If you'd prefer to use darcs instead of git, you need to add the following field to the configuration file:

repository-type: Darcs

This program may be called "darcsit" instead of "gitit" when a darcs backend is used.

Changing the theme

To change the look of the wiki, you can modify screen.css in static/css. But a better approach is to add a line to templates/ that imports your own custom stylesheet. This line should go after the line that links to /css/screen.css:

<link href="/css/my-screen.css" rel="stylesheet" media="screen, projection" type="text/css" />

Then add my-screen.css to the static/css directory and customize it as you see fit. The advantage of this approach is that you won't need to merge changes in screen.css when gitit is updated. You can just copy the revised screen.css into your static/css directory.

To change the look of printed pages, modify print.css.

The logo picture can be changed by copying a new PNG file to static/img/logo.png.

For more radical changes, you can modify any of the templates in templates. The template is the master template; it includes the others. Interpolated variables are surrounded by $s, so literal $ must be backslash-escaped.

Adding support for math

Gitit is designed to work with jsMath to display LaTeX math in HTML. Download jsMath and jsMath Image Fonts from the jsMath download page. You'll have two .zip archives. Unzip them both in the static/js directory (a new subdirectory, jsMath, will be created). You can test to see if math is working properly by clicking "help" on the top navigation bar and looking for the math example (the quadratic formula). Note that if you copied the jsMath directory into static after starting gitit, you will have to restart gitit for the change to be noticed. Gitit checks for the existence of the jsMath files when it starts, and will not include links to them unless they exist.

To write math on a markdown-formatted wiki page, just enclose it in dollar signs, as in LaTeX:

Here is a formula:  $\frac{1}{\sqrt{c^2}}$

You can write display math by enclosing it in double dollar signs:


Highlighted source code

If gitit was compiled against a version of pandoc that has highlighting support (see above), you can get highlighted source code by using delimited code blocks:

~~~ {.haskell .numberLines}
qsort []     = []
qsort (x:xs) = qsort (filter (< x) xs) ++ [x] ++
               qsort (filter (>= x) xs) 

To see what languages are available:

pandoc -v

Accessing the wiki via git or darcs

All the pages and uploaded files are stored in a git or darcs repository. By default, this lives in the wikidata directory (though this can be changed through configuration options). So you can interact with the wiki using git command line tools:

git clone ssh://
cd wikidata
vim Front\  # edit the page
git commit -m "Added message about wiki etiquette" Front\
git push 

If you now look at the Front Page on the wiki, you should see your changes reflected there. Note that the pages all have the extension .page.


By default, gitit does not cache content. If your wiki receives a lot of traffic or contains pages that are slow to render, you may want to activate caching. To do this, set the configuration option use-cache to yes. By default, rendered pages and highlighted source files will be cached in the cache directory. (Another directory can be specified by setting the cache-dir configuration option.)

Cached pages are updated when pages are modified using the web interface. They are not updated when pages are modified directly through git or darcs. However, the cache can be refreshed manually by pressing Ctrl-R when viewing a page, or by sending an HTTP GET or POST request to /_expire/path/to/page, where path/to/page is the name of the page to be expired.

Users who frequently update pages using git or darcs may wish to add a hook to the repository that makes the appropriate HTTP request to expire pages when they are updated. To facilitate such hooks, the gitit cabal package includes an executable expireGititCache. Assuming you are running gitit at port 5001 on localhost, and the environment variable CHANGED_FILES contains a list of the files that have changed, you can expire their cached versions using

expireGititCache http://localhost:5001 $CHANGED_FILES

Or you can specify the files directly:

expireGititCache http://localhost:5001 "Front" foo/bar/baz.c

This program will return a success status (0) if the page has been successfully expired (or if it was never cached in the first place), and a failure status (> 0) otherwise.

The cache is persistent through restarts of gitit. To expire all cached pages, simply remove the cache directory.

Using gitit with apache

Most users who run a public-facing gitit will want gitit to appear at a nice URL like or rather than This can be achieved using apache's mod_proxy.

Proxying to

Set up your DNS so that maps to your server's IP address. Make sure that the mod_proxy module is loaded, and set up a virtual host with the following configuration:

<VirtualHost *>
    DocumentRoot /var/www/
    RewriteEngine On
    ProxyPreserveHost On
    ProxyRequests Off

    <Proxy *>
       Order deny,allow
       Allow from all

    ProxyPassReverse /
    RewriteRule ^(.*)$1 [P]

    ErrorLog /var/log/apache2/error.log
    LogLevel warn

    CustomLog /var/log/apache2/access.log combined
    ServerSignature On


Reload your apache configuration and you should be all set.

Proxying to

Make sure the mod_proxy, mod_headers, mod_proxy_http, and mod_proxy_html modules are loaded. mod_proxy_html is an external module, which can be obtained here. It rewrites URLs that occur in web pages. Here we will use it to rewrite gitit's links so that they all begin with /wiki/.

First, tell gitit not to compress pages, since mod_proxy_html needs uncompressed pages to parse. You can do this by setting the gitit configuration option

compress-responses: no

Second, modify the link in the reset-password-message in the configuration file: instead of


set it to


Restart gitit.

Now add the following lines to the apache configuration file for the server:

# These commands will proxy /wiki/ to port 5001

ProxyRequests Off

<Proxy *>
  Order deny,allow
  Allow from all

ProxyPass /wiki/

<Location /wiki/>
  SetOutputFilter  proxy-html
  ProxyPassReverse /
  ProxyHTMLURLMap  /   /wiki/
  RequestHeader unset Accept-Encoding

Reload your apache configuration and you should be set.

For further information on the use of mod_proxy_http to rewrite URLs, see the mod_proxy_html guide.

Using gitit as a library

By importing the module Network.Gitit, you can include a gitit wiki (or several of them) in another happstack application. There are some simple examples in the haddock documentation for Network.Gitit.

Reporting bugs

Bugs may be reported (and feature requests filed) at

There is a mailing list for users and developers at


A number of people have contributed patches:

  • Gwern Branwen helped to optimize gitit and wrote the InterwikiPlugin. He also helped with the Feed module.
  • Simon Michael contributed the patch adding RST support.
  • Henry Laxen added support for password resets and helped with the apache proxy instructions.
  • Anton van Straaten made the process of page generation more modular by adding Gitit.ContentTransformer.
  • Robin Green helped improve the plugin API and interface, and fixed a security problem with the reset password code.
  • Thomas Hartman helped improve the index page, making directory browsing persistent.
  • Justin Bogner improved the appearance of the preview button.
  • Kohei Ozaki contributed the ImgTexPlugin.
  • mightybyte suggested making gitit available as a library, and contributed a patch to ifLoggedIn that was needed to make gitit usable with a custom authentication scheme.

Gitit's default visual layout is shamelessly borrowed from Wikipedia. The stylesheets are influenced by Wikipedia's stylesheets and by the bluetrip CSS framework (see BLUETRIP-LICENSE). Some of the icons in img/icons come from bluetrip as well.

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