Asciidoctor: AsciiDoc with new functions Performance Enhanced

PDF Options

The classic structure of AsciiDoc is more or less directly oriented to HTML, which makes it easier to convert to the formats based on it, including EPUB. If you prefer to create linear documents such as books, you will probably prefer PDFs. There are several ways to create PDFs, and they can lead to quite different results.

One option is using the web browser. Simply create some HTML output, call it in the browser, and export it as a PDF. This approach offers quite extensive support for CSS options. Alternatively, you can use the DocBook 5 tool chain via a2x. Asciidoctor lets you create PDFs directly with Asciidoctor PDF, but often with less than optimal results.

AsciiDoc opens a way via a FOP conversion. This does not always work as intended, but the process is quite fast. The disadvantage is that there are no meaningful error messages, and errors often remain undetected for a long time.

Yet another option is to use LaTeX. You can create code with AsciiDoc or Asciidoctor and convert it in the conventional way with LaTeX's own tools. This enables high-quality print output, but it requires additional LaTeX know-how and often manual fine-tuning.

Regardless of which path you choose, bear in mind that interactive elements are nearly always lost in the conversion (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Interactive structures in HTML output formats, such as click blocks, are only supported in Asciidoctor. In this example, taken from the original documentation, clicking on Answer then displays the answer given in the source code.


Asciidoctor proves to be a worthy successor to AsciiDoc. Its speed and additional plugins, along with direct support in AsciidocFX [10], make it a good, although more complex alternative.

So is there no longer any reason to use AsciiDoc? That depends. For example, a tool chain that works well for ebooks is not to be sneezed at, and the results sometimes turn out to be more compact than the results produced by Asciidoctor EPUB3. Moreover, working with Asciidoctor is far more complex than using AsciiDoc; the additional capabilities make it more difficult for users to find errors.

Overall, with the infrastructure that has grown around Asciidoctor, it appears to be a more agile application. This makes it worthwhile for experienced users to consider making the switch. For newcomers on the other hand, the classic AsciiDoc is still recommended due to its ease of use. Once you are confident with AsciiDoc, you can more easily master a switch to Asciidoctor later.

Buy this article as PDF

Express-Checkout as PDF
Price $2.95
(incl. VAT)

Buy Linux Magazine

Get it on Google Play

US / Canada

Get it on Google Play

UK / Australia

Related content

  • AsciiDoc

    AsciiDoc syntax along with its eponymous command lets users create a text document with unobtrusive markup and convert it to a variety of output formats.

  • Introduction

    This month in Linux Voice.

comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Linux Newsletters
Find Linux and Open Source Jobs
Subscribe to our ADMIN Newsletters

Support Our Work

Linux Magazine content is made possible with support from readers like you. Please consider contributing when you’ve found an article to be beneficial.

Learn More