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These scripts are a subset of the scripts I use for building They are here on github to help with collaborating with people who are writing articles for I have made no effort to document them, or package them, for general use. You are welcome to give them a spin if you so wish, but they will need considerable hacking on them to make them usable outside the context of my own website. I'm happy for that to be done, but it's not one of my likely priorities.

How to use these scripts

To make use of these scripts you need to create a project folder, put some XML sources for web content you want to create into that folder, link the folder to the scripts in this repo, and then execute a build command on that folder.

That all sounds rather laborious, so I've provided a script that will build such a project folder for you, together with some sample sources that you can build into further documentation. To get all this going, execute these commands.

git clone
cd mfweb
ruby make-sample.rb ../sample
cd ../sample
bundle install
rake server

You should now be able to point your browser to http://localhost:2929/ and see a self professed crude web page. This page is served out of sample/build

There's a good chance that things went pear-shaped when you executed the rake command. This will probably be due to missing some prerequisites. I still need to sort out making it easier to get the dependencies. Until then I can say that you will need ruby 1.9 (I install it and control the install with rbenv.) To build the infodecks you will also need to install coffeescript. The default rake tasks assume this is the case, let me know if this is an issue and I'll try to do something clever to avoid the need for coffeescript if you are only working on articles.

You need a bunch of ruby gems to run the toolchain. These are specified using bundler and there are the appropriate Gemfile and Gemfile.lock files in the sample folder.

If all goes well you can now add your own articles and infodecks to the sample repo. You should not modify any of the files in mfweb unless you are experimenting with patching mfweb itself and sending me a pull request.

What's in this repo

The top level folders are:

  • lib/mfweb/core scripts required for most parts of the web site
  • lib/mfweb/article scripts build regular prose articles
  • lib/mfweb/infodeck scripts to build infodecks
  • sample files for the sample directory
  • css css files used for these parts of the web site.
  • test some unit tests (see below)

Digging in the Code

(This material needs to be moved into the documentation in the sample repo and expanded)

If you want to dig around in the code that generates things, here's a few signposts

The entry point for transforming an article xml file into html is ArticleMaker (in lib/mfweb/article). Its task is to coordinate the various objects that do most of the work. This is set up for each paper in the rakefile.

First of these is the PageSkeleton, which you set up with the header, footer, and css information. It writes these things out and hands over to the PaperTransformer which actually does most of the work. (There is also a PatternTransformer which is used for patterns done in my template.)

The paper transformer is a subclass of transformer (in lib\mfweb\core), which is a general class for transforming xml documents into html. The transformer walks the tree of the xml document. Most behavior is defined by creating methods named handle_elementName for each element you want to do something with. Handle methods usually do some specific things for that element and at some point call apply which continues the walk down to the children.

Any html output is done through an instance of HtmlEmitter, present through the instance variable @html. HtmlEmitter has a range of methods to emit common html elements, together with general methods element_block and element_span to spit out any named with elements with or without surrounding newlines. You can also send raw output to the HtmlEmitter with <<.

Although the handle_* methods give you the most control about processing an XML element, there are some common cases that have short cuts. The transformer parent class defines some lists @ignore_set, @copy_set, @p_set and @span_set for these shortcut behaviors.

If you want to do some specialized transforming of some particular element structure, it's often easiest to make your own transformer subclass and call it during the tree walk. See how processing the abstract in handle_abstract leads to calls into a separate FrontMatterTransformer to print things like the table of contents and author lists.

Various more complicated operations are done by separate service objects which are defined on the PaperMaker which passes itself as a service locator to the transformer. These include PatternServer (for pattern reference lookups), CodeServer (for code extraction), Bibliography (for citations), FootnoteServer (for footnotes).

There aren't many tests in here. These are limited since I have a fast and simple functional test system (generate the entire web site, and diff it with a known good output site.)