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$ mdsh - a markdown shell pre-processor

Build Status crates.io

The mdsh project describes a Markdown language extension that can be used to automate some common tasks in README.md files. Quite often I find myself needing to embed a snippet of code or markdown from a different file. Or I want to show the output of a command. In both cases this can be done manually, but what all you had to do was run mdsh and have the file updated automatically?

So the goal of this tool is first to extend the syntax of Markdown in a natural way. Something that you might type. And if the mdsh tool is run, the related blocks get updated in place. Most other tools would produce a new file but we really want a sort of idempotent operation here.

In the end this gives a tool that is a bit akin to literate programming or jupyer notebooks but for shell commands. It adds a bit of verbosity to the file and in exchange it allows to automate the refresh of those outputs.

Usage

$ mdsh --help

mdsh 0.6.0
Markdown shell pre-processor. Never let your READMEs and tutorials get out of sync again.

Exits non-zero if a sub-command failed.

USAGE:
    mdsh [FLAGS] [OPTIONS]

FLAGS:
        --clean      
            Remove all generated blocks

        --frozen     
            Fail if the output is different from the input. Useful for CI.
            
            Using `--frozen`, you can guarantee that developers update documentation when they make a change. Just add
            `mdsh --frozen` as a check to your continuous integration setup.
    -h, --help       
            Prints help information

    -V, --version    
            Prints version information


OPTIONS:
    -i, --input <input>          
            Path to the markdown file. `-` for stdin [default: ./README.md]

    -o, --output <output>        
            Path to the output file, `-` for stdout [defaults to updating the input file in-place]

        --work_dir <work-dir>    
            Directory to execute the scripts under [defaults to the input file’s directory]

Syntax Extensions

Inline Shell Code

Syntax regexp:

^`[$>] ([^`]+)`\s*$

Inline Shell Code are normal inline code that:

  • start at the beginning of a line
  • include either $ or > at the beginning of their content
  • contain a shell command

When those are enountered, the command is executed by mdsh and output as either a fenced code block ($) or markdown code (>).

  • $ runs the command and outputs a code block
  • > runs the command and outputs markdown

Examples:

`$ seq 4 | sort -r`
```
4
3
2
1
```
`> echo 'I *can* include markdown. <code>Hehe</code>.'`
<!-- BEGIN mdsh -->
I *can* include markdown. <code>Hehe</code>.
<!-- END mdsh -->

Variables

Syntax regexp:

^`! ([\w_]+)=([^`]+)`\s*$

Variables allow you to set new variables in the environment and reachable by the next blocks that are being executed.

The value part is being evaluated by bash and can thus spawn sub-shells.

Examples:

! user=bob

Now the $user environment variable is available:

$ echo hello $user

hello bob

Now capitalize the user

! USER=$(echo $user | tr '[[:lower:]]' '[[:upper:]]')

$ echo hello $USER

hello BOB

Link Includes

Syntax regexp:

^\[[$>] ([^\]]+)]\([^\)]+\)\s*$

Link Includes work similarily to code blocks but with the link syntax.

  • $ loads the file and embeds it as a code block
  • > loads the file and embeds it as markdown

Examples:

[$ code.rb](samples/code.rb) as ruby
```ruby
require "pp"

pp ({ foo: 3 })
```
[> example.md](samples/example.md)
<!-- BEGIN mdsh -->
*this is part of the example.md file*
<!-- END mdsh -->

ANSI escapes

ANSI escape sequences are filtered from command outputs:

$ ls --color | sort | grep -v target

samples
src
ci.sh
Cargo.lock
Cargo.toml
CHANGELOG.md
_config.yml
flake.lock
flake.nix
LICENSE
README.md
shell.nix

Commented-out commands

Sometimes it's useful not to render the command that is being shown. All the commands support being hidden inside of a HTML comment like so:

<!-- `$ echo example` -->
```
example
```

Fenced code type

If you want GitHub to highlight the outputted code fences, it's possible to postfix the line with as <type>. For example:

`$ echo '{ key: "value" }'` as json
```json
{ key: "value" }
```

Installation

The best way to install mdsh is with the rust tool cargo.

cargo install mdsh

If you are lucky enough to be a nix user:

nix-env -f https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/archive/master.tar.gz -iA mdsh

Pre-commit hook

This project can also be installed as a pre-commit hook.

Add to your project's .pre-commit-config.yaml:

-   repo: https://github.com/zimbatm/mdsh.git
    rev: master
    hooks:
    -   id: mdsh

Make sure to have rust available in your environment.

Then run pre-commit install-hooks

Known issues

The tool currently lacks in precision as it doesn't parse the Markdown file, it just looks for the desired blocks by regexp. It means that in some cases it might misintepret some of the commands. Most existing Markdown parsers are used to generate HTML in the end and are thus not position-preserving. Eg: pulldown-cmark

The block removal algorithm doesn't support output that contains triple backtick or <!-- END mdsh -->.

Related projects

  • http://chriswarbo.net/essays/activecode/ is the closest to this project. It has some interesting Pandoc filters that capture code blocks into outputs. The transformation is not in-place like mdsh.
  • Literate Programming is the practice of interspesing executable code into documents. There are many language-specific implementations out there. mdsh is a bit like a bash literate programming language.
  • Jupyter Notebooks is a whole other universe of documentation and code. It's great but stores the notebooks as JSON files. A special viewer program is required to render them to HTML or text.

User Feedback

Issues

If you have any problems with or questions about this project, please contact use through a GitHub issue.

Contributing

You are invited to contribute new features, fixes or updates, large or small; we are always thrilled to receive pull requests, and do our best to process them as fast as we can.

License

> LICENSE

MIT License

Copyright (c) 2019 zimbatm and contributors

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

THE SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS", WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO THE WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NONINFRINGEMENT. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE AUTHORS OR COPYRIGHT HOLDERS BE LIABLE FOR ANY CLAIM, DAMAGES OR OTHER LIABILITY, WHETHER IN AN ACTION OF CONTRACT, TORT OR OTHERWISE, ARISING FROM, OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH THE SOFTWARE OR THE USE OR OTHER DEALINGS IN THE SOFTWARE.