Features: Advanced

1) Document Inheritance

Document headers define how a document and its sub-documents are rendered to target formats. Document headers are loaded into a context, which is a special dict in python. Most header values are copied to sub-documents, which may be overriden.

Consider the following project document tree.


The project’s title and author could be specified in the root document.

title: This is my book
author: Debra Danson
template: books/novel

The sub-documents carry the values from the parent document.

chapter: My first chapter

In this case, the author field from src/main.dm will be inserted in src/chapters/chap.dm.

2) Target Attributes

Tag attributes generally apply to all document target formats. However, sometimes attributes need to be specified for specific document targets. For example, this feature can be helpful in customizing the position of images when the document is rendered on a page with the pdf document target.

Target attributes are specified by ending an attribute with a period and the document target.

@img[width=80% width.html=40%]{figures/fig1.png}

In this case, the image’s width will be 80% of the text width for all document targets except .html, which will render the image’s width to 40% of the text width.

Target attributes also apply to positional arguments.

@marginfig[id=perfect-vs-ideal-gas-3d -20em.tex]{
    @caption{Pressure vs. volume and temperature for @CO2 gas
       demonstrates that the real gas pressure is less than the
       perfect gas pressure.}

In this example, the -20em.tex positional argument offsets the margin figure’s vertical position.

3) Label Formats

Templates may adopt different formats for the presentation of label references from @ref tags. These can be customized in the header of the root document or any of the sub-documents with the label_fmts entry.

    heading: "@label.tree_number. @label.title"
    heading_title: "@label.title"
    heading_part: "Part @label.part_number. @label.title"
    heading_chapter: "Chapter @label.chapter_number. @label.title"
    caption_figure: "@b{Fig. @label.number}"

Label formats are written in disseminate format and, optionally, have access to the @label metadata.

For headings in general, they will adopt the most specific label format. In this case, heading_title takes precedence over heading for @title labels, so all titles will simply present the label’s title. However, a @section heading will use the heading label format, since a header_section label format was not specified.

Additionally, target-specific label formats can be presented.

    heading_title: "Title: @label.title"
    heading_title_html: "My HTML Title: @label.title"

In this example, the heading_title_html label format will be used to format references to @title headings with html targets whereas the heading_title label format will be used for all other targets.

Finally, templates may reset the heading counters for different types of headings with the label_resets header entry.

    part: chapter, section, subsection, subsubsection
    chapter: section, subsection, subsubsection, figure, table

In the above example, the number (counter) for the chapter, section, subsection and subsubsection are reset every time there is a new @part is encountered. Likewise, the section, subsection, subsubsection, figure and table numbers are reset every time a new @chapter is encountered.

4) Signal Processing

Disseminate integrates a customized signal dispatch system. The system is designed similarly to Blinker, but it allows receivers to register an order for processing in sequence.

The processing of documents, tags, labels, building is initiated by a signal dispatch and handled in a factory pattern with signal receivers. This system allows new functionality to be easily added, like plug-ins, while decoupling the various sub-modules of disseminate.

The listing of current signals and receivers can be accessed from the commandline interface.

5) Intelligent Building

In many respects, disseminate is a software construction tool like SCons or GNU make: document source files (.dm) are parsed and converted to tags, and external tools may optionally build some of the dependencies, like images, plots and diagrams.

The disseminate build system includes a number of features to quickly and correctly build the target documents:

  1. Each document target has its own builder, which comprises of a nested tree of sequential and parallel builders.

  2. Builders are selected as needed from the specified document target–e.g. a pdf2svg builder is added for svg images when the document is rendered to the html document target, but the pdf is only added (copied) for tex and pdf document targets.

  3. The build system uses a multithreaded and multiprocessing implementation to build documents in parallel to the extent possible. This parallelization reduces overall build times from 10s of minutes to 10s of seconds.

  4. Intermediate files are cached in a .cache subdirectory.

  5. Like SCons, build decisions are made based on the hash of files rather than modification times (like GNU make)

  6. Additional dependencies like labels hashes are included in the build. References to labels that have changed from other documents will trigger a new build.

  7. The build system is designed to operate transparently to the user.

6) Webserver Preview

The CLI includes a webserver based on Sanic to present the rendered documents with the html document target.

The webserver previewer is started from the command line.

  $ dm preview
  [2020-11-13 07:59:40 -0600] [25806] [INFO] Goin' Fast @
  [2020-11-13 07:59:40 -0600] [25806] [INFO] Starting worker [25806