Markup syntax and associated tools to write and generate documentation, books and slides
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Latest commit eade46f Jun 20, 2018


Pillar is a markup syntax and tool-suite to generate documentation, books, websites and slides. Pillar is not new, it was invented around 2000 as a supporting language for SmallWiki. Its ancestor was the markup for the Pier CMS amd we extracted it from Pier to make it more applicable to different domains. The Pillar syntax is similar to markdown but its emphasis is on publishing and how it handles different types of links.

Build Status Documentation


1. Building from sources

Execute the script found in the scripts directory:

$ git clone
$ cd pillar
$ ./scripts/

The script will create a build directory in your current working directory with the pillar installation.

$ ls
LICENSE  appveyor.yml  archetypes  ==>>build<<==  scripts  src

Getting an older version

  • v5.0: Pillar 5 is released for Pharo5 and versionned on SmalltalkHub.
  • You can get an already built image of that version from here.
  • You can check the scripts in the (dev-5 branch)[]
  • The root of this branch still contains for backwards compatibility purposes a deprecated copy of the old script.

2. Setting up the environment

You can then proceed to install that pillar build where you want. For example, you can place it in a hidden directory in your home directory:

# Go back to the previous directory and move the pillar directory to your HOME
$ cd ..
$ mv pillar ~/.pillar

Then add that directory to the PILLAR_HOME and HOME environment variables, for example, by modifying your .bashrc with

export PILLAR_HOME="$HOME/.pillar/build"

3. Install external dependencies

Producing pdf documents with pillar requires a LaTeX installation with at least the following packages:

  • fira
  • gentium-tug
  • opensans
  • varwidth
  • footmisc
  • tcolorbox
  • environ
  • trimspaces
  • ctablestack
  • import
  • multirow
  • listings
  • url
  • import

*nix specificities

The simplest way to install LaTeX is to install texlive-full in your system. Alternatively, you can use a docker install with everything prepackaged.

Otherwise, you can do a manual LaTeX install in both linux and osx, as we do in our travis builds. Check our ensure_latex and ensure_book_dependencies scripts.

Windows specificities

Install a LaTeX distribution such as MiKTeX and install the dependencies specified above using the provided package manager. Then, make sure the bin directory is in your PATH environment variable. For example this could be the following value:

C:\Program Files\MiKTeX 2.9\miktex\bin\x64

The automatic installer does this for you in general.

Also, latexmk on MiKTeX depends on a perl interpreter, that could be obtained via:

And requires to install this specific package MiKTeX package:

  • supp-pdf

4. Test your installation

To test your pillar installation, open a new terminal and execute the pillar --version command. If everything is ok, that should print out (as in the current version) the version of the Pharo VM. For example:

$  pillar --version
M:    CoInterpreter VMMaker.oscog-eem.2265 uuid: 76b62109-629a-4c39-9641-67b53321df9a Aug 27 2017
StackToRegisterMappingCogit VMMaker.oscog-eem.2262 uuid: 8b531242-de02-48aa-b418-8d2dde0bec6c Aug 27 2017
VM: 201708271955 $ Date: Sun Aug 27 21:55:26 2017 +0200 $ Plugins: 201708271955 $

Getting started

To create a book, you can start by installing the book archetype in a directory where you want to manage it:

$ mkdir my-new-book
$ cd my-new-book
$ pillar archetype book

You can then edit the pillar files and the pillar configuration file pillar.conf. Finally, you can generate your book in pdf using.

$ pillar build pdf

Or in html:

$ pillar build html

The resulting pdf or html site will be written into the _result directory.

Contributing to Pillar

The current pillar version is being developped using both Pharo6.1 and Pharo7.0. To contribute, you should set-up a development environment as follows:

  1. Download Pharo 32bits from Pharo's website (64 bits is on the way). You can also use the handy zeroconf scripts as follows:
$ wget | bash     #32bit version
  1. Open Pharo
$ ./pharo-ui Pharo.image
  1. Check that you have your ssh keys in-sync with github (You can follow github instructions from here If you skip this, you'll have problems fetching and pushing your commits.

  2. If you chose Pharo6.1, update iceberg to the latest version using the script in Iceberg's README

  3. Clone pillar using iceberg and install the baseline using the metacello plugin.

More documentation

Read the documentation at Please note that chapter on Pharo a web Perspective is obsolete since it refers to Pharo 60.