Asciidoctor’s Most Notable Benefits

While Asciidoctor aims to offer full compliance with the AsciiDoc syntax, it’s more than just a clone.

Built-in and custom templates

Asciidoctor uses a set of built-in ERB templates to generate HTML 5 and DocBook output that is structurally equivalent to what AsciiDoc produces. Any of these templates can be replaced by a custom template written in any template language available in the Ruby ecosystem. Custom template rendering is handled by the Tilt template abstraction library. Tilt is one of the most popular gems in the Ruby ecosystem.

Parser and object model

Leveraging the Ruby stack isn’t the only benefit of Asciidoctor. Unlike the AsciiDoc Python implementation, Asciidoctor parses and converts the source document in discrete steps. This makes conversion optional and gives Ruby programs the opportunity to extract, add or replace information in the document by interacting with the document object model Asciidoctor assembles. Developers can use the full power of the Ruby programming language to play with the content in the document.

Performance and security

No coverage of Asciidoctor would be complete without mention of its speed. Despite not being an original goal of the project, Asciidoctor has proven startlingly fast. It loads, parses, and converts documents a 100 times as fast as the Python implementation. That’s good news for developer productivity and good news for GitHub or any server-side application that needs to render AsciiDoc markup. Asciidoctor also offers several levels of security, further justifying its suitability for server-side deployments.

Beyond Ruby

Asciidoctor’s usage is not limited to the Ruby community. Thanks to JRuby, a port of Ruby to the JVM, Asciidoctor can be used inside Java applications as well. Plugins are available for asciidoctor-maven-plugin Apache Maven, asciidoctor-gradle-plugin Gradle, and Rewrite. These plugins are based on the AsciidoctorJ for Asciidoctor.

Asciidoctor also ships with a command line interface (CLI). The Asciidoctor CLI, asciidoctor, is a drop-in replacement for the asciidoc.py script from the AsciiDoc Python distribution.