With the latest release of Asciidoctor, a ruby -based interpreter, many open source projects have started using the software including Neo4j

An update to a new, Ruby-based interpreter for the AsciiDoc file format was pushed out yesterday, bringing handy new macros and extra speed, as well as fixing some common annoyances.

Asciidoctor was launched by GitHub’s Ryan Waldron and Red Hat’s Dan Allen in January as an alternative implementation of AsciiDoc, with the aim of fixing some the standard interpreter’s long-standing problems.

Nine months on from a 0.1.0 release, Asciidoctor has been downloaded 50,000 times and a number of open source projects have made the shift to using this software, including Groovy, Spring XD and Neo4j. Development has continued since, and yesterday the fifth version of Asciidoctor was pushed to RubyGems, bringing with it an array of further improvements.

“Asciidoctor 0.1.4 was originally planned to be a small release,” wrote Dan Allen and Sarah White on the project’s blog. “Instead, it turned out to be a summer-long project.”

Originally created as a preprocessor to the complex DocBook markup language, Asciidoc files can now be exported to a range of formats, from HTML to PDF to ePub. Similar to Markdown in syntax, it can be – and frequently is – used to produce entire technical manuals.

However, the standard interpreter, written in Python in 2002, has remained the only conversion option for a decade. Asciidoctor is a fresh take written in Ruby (GitHubbers’ language of choice), introducing custom HTML templates, a flexible document object model, and a 25x speed increase. It’s now used to render every AsciiDoc file on GitHub.

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