Markdown partial processor

Table of Contents


Markdown partial processor.

Designed to generate markdown documents from a series of partials.

Read partial to learn how to define partials or get a quick feel by checking the configuration that created this document, see usage for an abbreviated look at the command line options.

  • Synchronize your README with your code.
  • Generate markdown, html, man and txt documents from partials.
  • Flexible middleware design, see middleware.
  • Generate a table of contents for markdown document(s).
  • Concatenate multiple markdown documents into a single file.
  • Include the output of a shell program, great for examples or program usage.
  • Convert relative links to absolute links so your readme documents work when displayed on the npm website.
  • Be pedantic in presentation, but lazy authoring. Ensure paragraphs are terminated with a period and start out title case.
npm i -g mdp
Usage: mdp [-vfh] [--color|--no-color] [--debug] [-v|--verbose]
           [-f|--force] [--pandoc] [--inspect]
           [--pedantic|--no-pedantic] [--toc|--no-toc] [-h|--help]
           [--version] [--log-level=<level>] [--log-file=<file>]
           [--section=<1-8>] [-n|--filename=<name>]
           [--toc-title=<title>] [-p|--print=<format>]
           [--timeout=<ms>] [-t|--title=<title>]
           [-i|--input=<file...>] [-o|--output=<file...>]
           [-w|--middleware=<file...>] <args>
Markdown partial processor.
     --[no]-pedantic        Enable or disable pedantic middleware.
     --[no]-color           Enable or disable terminal colors.
     --log-file=[file]      Redirect to log file.
     --debug                Enable stack traces.
 -v, --verbose              Print more information.
 -f, --force                Force file overwrite.
     --pandoc               Include pandoc meta data.
     --inspect              Enable inspect middleware.
     --section=[1-8]        Set the man page section.
 -n, --filename=[name]      Set the output file name.
     --log-level=[level]    Set the log level.
     --[no]-toc             Enable or disable the table of contents middleware,
                            this overrides a toc value in the meta data.
     --toc-title=[title]    Set the title for the table of contents, this
                            overrides --no-toc and the toc meta data property.
 -p, --print=[format]       Print document to stdout.
     --timeout=[ms]         Millisecond timeout for middleware.
 -t, --title=[title]        Document title.
 -i, --input=[file ...]     Meta definition file(s).
 -o, --output=[file ...]    Output file(s), may be specified once for each
                            format. The output format is determined by the file
                            extension, md, txt, html, xhtml or [1-8]. If no
                            output files are specified then is
                            generated in the current directory. If the output
                            path is a directory then a file is created for each
                            supported format.
 -w, --middleware=[file ...]
                            Require custom middleware.
 -h, --help                 Display this help and exit.
     --version              Output version information and exit.
Report bugs to

The program help output is also available as markdown see MANUAL.

This document was generated with the following configuration (see package.json):

  "title": {
    "ref": "name",
    "format": "%s(1)"
  "pedantic": true,
  "include": "doc/readme",
  "require": "lib",
  "gfm": true,
  "branch": "master",
  "links": "",
  "toc": "Table of Contents",
  "order": false,
  "base": "",
  "env": true,
  "partial": [
      "ref": "description"
      "inc": [
      "title": "Usage",
      "bin": "mdp --help",
      "type": "code",
      "footer": "The program help output is also available as markdown see [MANUAL](/"
      "title": "Configuration",
      "text": "This document was generated with the following configuration (see [package.json](/package.json)):",
      "ref": "mdp",
      "stringify": true,
      "format": "```json\n%s\n```",
      "footer": "***Note this is not necessarily the optimal configuration it is designed to showcase the partial functionality.***"
      "inc": ""
      "req": "defaults.js",
      "type": "code",
      "language": "javascript"
      "inc": [
      "title": "Middleware",
      "inc": ""
      "text": "The `inspect` middleware is shown below:",
      "req": "middleware/inspect.js",
      "type": "code",
      "language": "javascript"
      "text": "You can enable it by declaring it in the meta data (or by using `--inspect`):",
      "obj": {
        "middleware": [
      "type": "code",
      "language": "json"
      "inc": [

Note this is not necessarily the optimal configuration it is designed to showcase the partial functionality.

Meta data describes processing options and how you want to collate the partials.

  • generator: A boolean that disables inclusion of the generator text.
  • title: A string that sets the document title or a partial definition.
  • gfm: A boolean that indicates that github flavoured markdown is in use.
  • period: The character used by the pedantic middleware.
  • include: A directory that is the base path for include partials.
  • require: A directory that is the base path for require partials.
  • branch: A branch name to use when resolving links that begin with / for github, only applicable if gfm is set.
  • links: The name of a links include file, resolved relative to include.
  • toc: Enable the table of contents middleware with true or set to a string to include a title above the table of contents.
  • order: A boolean that indicates the toc middleware should use ordered lists.
  • base: Enable the absolute link middleware, specifies the base URL for absolute links.
  • hash: A boolean that controls whether the absolute middleware operates on URLs that begin with #.
  • level: An integer indicating the header level for title properties in partial definitions.
  • partial: Array of partial definitions, see partial.
  • env: A boolean that indicates environment variables are substituted in partial contents. You may override this on a partial level by specifying env on a partial object, see environment.
  "generator": "Generated by [mdp(1)](",
  "title": null,
  "gfm": true,
  "period": ".",
  "pedantic": false,
  "include": null,
  "require": null,
  "branch": "master",
  "links": null,
  "toc": false,
  "order": false,
  "base": null,
  "hash": false,
  "level": 2,
  "partial": null,
  "env": false

A partial may be one of:

  • literal|lit: A string literal.
  • reference|ref: A property reference.
  • object|obj: A json or javascript object reference.
  • include|inc: Include a file, normally a markdown document but not necessarily.
  • binary|bin: Execute a command and use stdout as the content.
  • require|req: Require a .js module or a .json file.

These are the common fields that apply to all partial types:

  • title: Injects a markdown heading for the partial, by default this is a level 2 heading although you may adjust this with the level configuration property.
  • text: Markdown text to inject after the title but before the partial content.
  • type: A type that indicates how the partial content should be wrapped, eg: code.
  • language: A language to assign when wrapping as a code block.
  • footer: Markdown text to inject after the partial content.
  • trim: Remove leading and trailing whitespace from the transformed result.
  • stringify: When referencing javascript objects (via ref, req etc.) this indicates that the result should be converted to JSON using JSON.stringify. The stringify implementation is circular reference safe and uses two spaces as the indentation but you may modify this with the indent property.
  • indent: An integer indicating the number of spaces to indent when converting to a JSON string.
  • format: A custom format string to use to wrap the partial result, should have a single %s that will be replaced with the partial content.
  • env: If environment variable replacement has been enabled in the configuration then you may set this to false on a partial to disable environment variable replacement for the partial.

At it's simplest a partial may be a string that contains markdown text.

A reference to a property in the meta definition file. This is useful when you are embedding the partial definition in package.json and wish to reference the existing meta data such as name or description.

A reference to an object or a json object definition.

Include a file as a partial. Files are resolved relative to the include configuration directory, if the include configuration property is not set they are resolved relative to the current working directory. Typically this is a markdown document to include literally, but can also be used to wrap other files in markdown code blocks, useful for examples.

Note that when including files trailing whitespace is removed from the file contents before inclusion in the resulting document.

  • trim: A boolean that when set to false disables the default behaviour of removing trailing whitespace from the file contents.

Execute a command and include the command's stdout in the resulting document. If the command prints markdown then you can use that output, otherwise you can wrap the command's output as a markdown element or just include it literally. This is particularly useful when you want to include a program's help (--help) output as a section within a document.

Binaries inherit the environment of the parent process (mdp) and the current working directory. The following fields are specific to the binary partial type:

  • stderr: A boolean that indicates that the command stderr stream should be used instead of the stdout stream.
  • cmd: A directory that becomes the working directory for the child process.
  • env: An object containing properties to append to the environment for the child process.

Require a js module or a json file. Files are resolved relative to the require configuration directory, if the require configuration property is not set they are resolved relative to the current working directory.

You may enable environment variable replacement by setting the env configuration property to true. If you wish to disable environment variable replacement for a partial set env to false for the partial.

Environment variables are replaced using the forms:


If the referenced variable is not set then the variable reference is not replaced and will be visible in the result.

You may disable environment variable replacement by preceeding the dollar with a single backslash:


When replacement is performed the backslash will be removed, resulting in literal variable references:


By default mdp(1) will append a generator message to the end of the document, it is nice if you wish to leave it in to help spread the word, however you may disable this message by setting the generator property to false.

Middleware functions are executed asynchronously once for each token encountered in the markdown document.

Implementations are passed a meta object which is the merged result of processing all the input configuration files (--input) and should return a closure that will be invoked once for each token in the document.

The closure function must be a named function and should return when zero arguments are passed so that function names may be used within error messages. It is passed the arguments:

  • token: The current token being processed.
  • tokens: The list of all tokens in the document, you may use tokens.peek() to look ahead but you should not modify the array.
  • next: A callback to invoke when the token has been processed, signature is: next(err).

If you pass an error to next the program will terminate immediately, failure to invoke next() will result in an error after a timeout (--timeout) has been exceeded.

The inspect middleware is shown below:

function middleware(meta) {
  return function inspect(tokentokensnext) {
    if(!arguments.length) return;

You can enable it by declaring it in the meta data (or by using --inspect):

  "middleware": [

Everything is MIT. Read the license if you feel inclined.

This program was built using the command module, if you care for excellent documentation and write command line interfaces you should check it out.

Generated by mdp(1).