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Grokking Bitcoin

This repository contains the Asciidoctor source code for Grokking Bitcoin.

About the open source version

Grokking Bitcoin is released in a commercial version and an open source version. The content is the same in the two versions, but there are some important differences between them:

The commercial version is available in various online book stores and at Manning’s website. It is professionally and beautifully typeset and available as a print book as well as ePub, Kindle, and PDF formats, all DRM-free. We strongly recommend to read the print version of this book. We have put a lot of hard work into making the spreads into extensions of your short-term memory. You’ll have most of the necessary information right there in the current spread.

The open source version (this repository), is where development of the book has taken place and where improvements and corrections are made. This repository will also serve as the basis for potential later editions.

It’s our hope that people will contribute bug reports, fixes, and improvements while having fun doing it. Together we’ll make this book even better.

We also hope that people who can afford to buy the book will chose that option over the open source version, because the reading experience is so much more awesome, but also to financially support all the hard work Manning and I have put into this project.

We release the book open source for several reasons, among which the most important are:

  • We want everyone to have access to top-class sources of Bitcoin information. This will strengthen Bitcoin as a system.

  • We hope that we will get more feedback through bug reports, improvement proposals, etc through this repository.

  • When people have the opportunity to browse the content before buying the book, they can better decide whether this book is for them or not. This will hopefully benefit sales.

  • I (Kalle) have gotten so much out of Bitcoin, be it knowledge, jobs, lols, friends, excitement, and drama, so I think it’s fair that I make my work available as a gesture of gratitude.

If you read the open source version, please consider giving the book a review, for example on Amazon.


The source is written to produce HTML5 output. Other target formats might work as well, but no effort has been made to keep them working.


  • Asciidoctor >= 1.5.7 and < 2.0 or >= 2.0.12
  • GNU Make
  • Inkscape >= 1.0.2
  • Fonts:
    • FreeMono
    • Arial
    • Humanst521 Cn BT (see section Fonts below)


If you’re running Ubuntu 18.10 or Debian 11 you can install all these dependencies (but see below for Inkscape), except Arial and Humanst521 Cn BT using:

sudo apt-get install asciidoctor make fonts-freefont-ttf inkscape

On other systems, asciidoctor may not exist as a package in your Linux distribution, in which case you’ll have to install it in some other way, for example via ruby gem on debian 11:

sudo apt install ruby-rubygems
sudo gem install asciidoctor --version 2.0.17

If you run an Ubuntu version earlier than 21.10, your version of Inkscape is too old. If so, you can install Inkscape using a ppa as described on their web page.

Please report any problems you encounter when building.


Assuming you already have Homebrew, you need to install the following dependencies:

brew install asciidoctor inkscape

Then, FreeFont Mono needs to be downloaded and put in the fonts folder,

wget -qO- | tar -xq freefont-20120503/FreeMono.ttf
mv freefont-20120503/FreeMono.ttf ~/Library/Fonts/ && rmdir freefont-20120503


In order to generate images that will display correctly on any web browser, that’s independent on system-installed fonts on the reader’s machine, you need to have the fonts FreeMono, Arial, and Humanst521 Cn BT installed on your system. If you don’t have them, your images will be generated using similarly looking fonts, which may or may not result in bad looking images.

To give a little background, the images were originally created by Manning (publisher) in Adobe Illustrator on macOS. They chose Arial and Humanst521 Cn BT because they thought they looked good and they had access to them on their machines. Unfortunately, these fonts aren’t free to use as we please. In the future I aim to replace those fonts as follows:

  • Arial -> Liberation Sans or Nimbus Sans
  • Humanst521 Cn BT -> Don’t know yet. Maybe Nimbus Sans Narrow, Bold

Until then I leave it up to you to install the needed fonts as you please. 'Humanst521 Cn BT' is apparently licensed as "Free For Personal Use", but I’m not allowed to redistribute it. You can download it from a lot of web sites.

Arial is supplied with macOS, and can usually be installed on Debian/Ubuntu by using the non-free package ttf-mscorefonts-installer, eg sudo apt install ttf-mscorefonts-installer.

Single HTML file

To build the complete book as a single HTML file, go to the root folder of this repository and run

make full

The resulting HTML file will be build/grokking-bitcoin.html. This HTML page will take approximately forever to load in a web browser (~100 MB of .svg images), but once loaded it’s a nice page to use for search and casual browsing.

Chunked HTML

To build a "chunked" version of the book, with one HTML file per chapter, run

make chunked

This will build one HTML file for each chapter and put them in the build directory with the names grokking-bitcoin-<X>.html, where X is the chapter number (1-11), and grokking-bitcoin-app<Y>.html, where Y is the appendix number (1-3). The front matter will be named grokking-bitcoin-fm.html. The cross references between chapters will not work in the chunked build, unfortunately.

Build all

To build both chunked and full versions, run the default target all:


Book structure

The book is written using one .adoc file per chapter. There’s a grokking-bitcoin.adoc file that includes all the different chapter files into a complete book. This file is also used for defining global attributes.

There are two css files that control the look of the HTML page:

  • style/asciidoctor.css is the default css that ships with Asciidoctor. It will be created by Asciidoctor automatically. Don’t edit this file.
  • style/grokking-bitcoin.css contains special css styling specific for this book. This file overrides styling in the asciidoctor.css file above.

All images are stored under images directory in a one-directory-per-chapter structure. There is also a images/common directory that contains images that are used in multiple chapters. The format of images should be .svg, but exceptions do occur. The images found under style/images are considered to be part of the styling and not the content.

A script to find unused files is available in images/ Use that to search for image files that are not referenced from any .adoc file. It does require that you have built the book prior to running the script.


The book is prepared for translations through the use of .po files and a grokking-bitcoin.pot file. A .po file, for example po4a/po/de_DE.po, is the file that contains all the translated strings. The .pot file is a template for .po files. A new translation is created by copying the .pot file into a .po file, for example sv_SE.po and then edit the .po file. There are several tools available for editing .po files.

I have setup a project on Transifex, which is an online translation tool. The German and Finnish translations were successfully made using this tool.

Apart from the .po files you also need to edit all images that contains textual content. I recommend using the open source tool Inkscape to edit the .svg images.

Build translation

When a .po file is ready, or when you want to test a partially finished .po file, let’s call it sv_SE.po you need to put it in the folder lang/po4a/po.

Some meta words, typically "figure", "chapter", etc, that are used by asciidoctor to generate meta content, are translated in separate files under lang/locale/attributes-<LANG>.adoc. For example lang/locale/attributes-de_DE.adoc for the German translation. Asciidoctor ships with a predefined set of such files for various languages under <asciidoctor_installation>/data/locale. They are typically named without country code, for example attributes-de.adoc. Copy and rename the one for your language into lang/locale, eg

cp /path/to/asciidoctor/data/locale/attributes-sv.adoc /path/to/grokkingbitcoin/lang/locale/attributes-sv_SE.adoc

You may also modify the translations in this file to your liking. To build the Swedish translation, run:

make sv_SE

The resulting translation can then be found under build/lang/de_DE/build/.