Tools for converting markdown to other formats with templating support

James Laver james.laver at
Sat Dec 22 13:06:57 EST 2012

Hi all,

I'm new to the list but I've been using markdown for a while and I wonder if it might make the things I've been doing recently easier if I could find a tool that does what I need.

Essentially, I've been writing a lot of technical proposals of late (mostly using google docs), but I'd like to switch to writing them in Markdown (which handily means I can track revisions and collaborate with git). However, the finished output needs to be in both pdf and html and I'd like to apply templates to both. Additionally I have a requirement for a cover page for the PDF Copy. I'd also like to be able to paginate the HTML at the same boundaries as the PDF copy is paginated.

Now I've seen a number of markdown libraries that can generate TeX and HTML but I don't seem to be able to apply a TeX template to them (and indeed my knowledge of TeX stops at writing a CV for which I haven't written a document template).

So, my requirements are:
- Generate a PDF copy
- With company cover page
- With company header, footer and ideally something in a margin like a logo
- Generate a HTML copy
- With company branding applied via CSS
- Ideally paginated at the breaks of where the PDF would be paginated.

Now, for the cover page, I explored three possibilities:
- Document-level metadata (as supported by python-markdown with a plugin). Specify some fields in there that I could manually output in the right format.
- Inline metadata (as supported by ruby's maruku). Not sure how i'd make it spit this out differently though
- Specially formatting some fields (e.g. building a level 1 header with DOCTITLE: in it or something, parsing it out before it hits the markdown library and prepending it to the document)

Yes, I'm aware HTML isn't designed to be paginated as such and I'm willing to lose that (though it would be nice just as a cross-platform fallback for where PDFs are not supported). I've also spent several hours searching for tools or libraries that do all of this out of the box and found nothing (which leads me to believe it doesn't exist).

My current approach is likely to be taking Pegdown (a java markdown library) and writing new renderers (it exposes the AST directly), but that's obviously a substantial amount of work. I'd be grateful for any pointers people have as alternatives, or perhaps someone knows of a tool?

Oh and I know this is the markdown list, but if the above already exists for another markup language, I'd consider switching, provided it was of a similar theme to markdown.


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