A ruby library and gem (soon) to compile text files into a book
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README.md

book

A ruby library and gem (soon) to compile text files into a book.

Based on http://chrismdp.com/2010/11/how-im-writing-my-book-using-git-and-ruby/

The idea here is to create an environment where snippets of a book can be split and organized into many different files in sub-folders and such, just like source code, and use a build file written in a convenient DSL to build it all into a book, preferably resulting in a PDF, epub, etc.

This project will have two components:

  • Book DSL - a domain specific language to allow the user to specify where various sections of the book's text have been placed and how to compile them. This is first and will be significantly developed before the book gem (below) is worked on.

  • book gem - a ruby gem to compile a book using the Book DSL, manage revisions of book files, manage version control, generate statistics on the book and the writing process, etc.

Book DSL

Every book, whether it's fiction or nonfiction, a dissertation or a novel, a poetry collection or a picture book, has the same basic structure. That said, different pieces tend to be more or less common, and which are needed change based on the type of book.

  • Title Page [always]
  • Copyright Page [always, if it's published]
  • Table of Contents [usually]
  • Table of Figures [often in scientific literature]
  • Foreword [often]
  • Preface [often]
  • Prologue [occasionally]
  • Parts [often in fiction]
    • Chapters or Articles [nearly always]
      • Sections [often]
        • Subsections [sometimes]
          • ...
  • Epilogue [occasionally]
  • Afterword [occasionally]
  • Appendices [often in academic texts]

(Please note that the bracketed phrases above are not intended to represent a full summary of every use of each node, but simply to indicate the common use case for each and the frequency with which it is employed.)

Notice that above there are essentially two categories of sections:

  1. Sections: Those that are provided by the writer and can contain subsections * Foreward, Preface, Prologue * Parts, Chapters, Articles, Sections, Subsections, etc. * Epilogue, Afterword * Appendices
  2. Metadata: Those that are automatically generated based on book metadata and the other sections * Title Page * Copyright Page * Table of Contents, Table of Figures

The nice thing about these two broad categories is that, while some formatting may change, the way you'd likely want to type it up is almost identical within each category. More specifically, the first category (Sections) is nearly identical, and the second category (Metadata) shouldn't have to be directly dealt with by the user at all.

Sections

Thinking in terms of software, Sections seem like a pretty good candidate for a simple class hierarchy. Really, all we need is a common base class and a bunch of basically empty classes that inherit from it, with perhaps some minor changes here and there.

See the [[TODO.md]] file for details of all the anticipated features.

book gem

Functions:

  • compile [<bookfile>] [-h | -p | -e] - compile a directory and its subdirectory contents into a book. If <bookfile> is specified, use it; otherwise, look for a file called Bookfile (or some case- variant thereon).

  • revise <section> - open an editor with a copy of <section> tagged as a draft. Aside: Should the book gem maintain a file structure for revisions and drafts of various section files? This likely wouldn't be too difficult.

  • stats - generate and display a statistics report, containing such items as:

    • words-per-day since beginning this book
    • top ten most common words, excluding trivials, e.g. a, an, and, the, ...
    • preferred writing hours? (might be tough to calculate; maybe monitor files for changes on disk? would require a long running process... needs more thought)
  • commit <message> - commit book to github

Usage

Good news everyone!

book v0.1 has been released. This is the result of about a week of spare-time hacking, and as such it's anything but complete. However, it is relatively useful if you want to jump in right now!

To use:

  1. Check out the repo:

    git pull http://github.com/kenbellows/book.git
    cd book/src
    
  2. Try an example! I've put together a pretty thorough example using Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, which he has released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 license, meaning guys like me can make use of it as long as I let you know where I got it.

    At any rate, the example makes use of pretty much every feature available under book at the moment. To compile, simply run the following command from the book/src directory:

    ruby book.rb ../examples/little_brother/bookfile.rb > little_brother.md
    

    Note two things: First, if there's no bookfile.rb in the current directory, one must be pointed to elsewhere. Second, currently, book only properly ingests and outputs Markdown. This will hopefully change soon.