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A Python filter to manage acronyms

Project description

pandoc-acronyms - A Pandoc filter for managing acronyms

Acronyms? WTF?

There is a convention in more precise writing to provide the full text of an acronym at first use. This can get difficult for example if the text of documents is split over multiple files, which makes it hard for the authors to know where the acronym will be used first. Such a task is best left to the computer. This is what the pandoc-acronyms filter is for. Authors list acronyms in a data file and then reference them in the text.


Write a data file that contains your acronyms:

	"aba": {
		"shortform": "ABA",
		"longform": "a better acronym"
	"bba": {
		"shortform": "BBA",
		"longform": "beer brewing attitude"

Then in the text, use the acronym in encoded form like [!bba]. The filter will recognize it. On first use it replaces the marker with beer brewing attitude (BBA). Any later use will be replaced by BBA. The filter will print a notice if an acronym is found in the text that is not defined in the data file.

Using the filter

The filter mechanism is a built-in feature of pandoc. The filter is added to how pandoc is invoked:

> pandoc --filter pandoc-acronyms

Unfortunately, pandoc does not allow to pass parameters to filters. The acronym filter needs to load the acronyms from the data file. To work around this, the parameters to the filter can be passed in environment variables:

> pandoc-acronyms --help
Usage: pandoc-acronyms [OPTIONS] [FORMAT]...

The pandoc-acronyms filter.

	-a, --acronyms TEXT           A file with acronym definitions in JSON format.
	-v, --verbose / --no-verbose  Enable verbose output.
	-v, --debug / --no-debug      Enable debug output.
	--help                        Show this message and exit.

The environment variable PANDOC_ACRONYMS_ACRONYMS can be used to replace the --acronyms option. Similarly, the variable PANDOC_ACRONYMS_VERBOSE enables diagnostic output.


The pandoc acronym filter is installed using Python setuptools:

> python install

After that, it is available as a stand-alone program in the installation location used by Python.

Testing and debugging

The pandoc-acronyms code uses the standard Python unittest framework. Most tests are data-driven in that they use regular Markdown files and JSON acronym dictionaries as input and test how the code handles them. To test the filter code as regular Python unit tests, test Markdown input is first converted into the Pandoc "native JSON" format in memory and then fed to the filter code by the tests. This means the unit tests run stand-alone (without the need for Pandon to invoke them as a filter), making the test code easily debugable.

How to contribute

The Git repository for the pandoc acronym filter is hosted on Gitlab. It uses the Gitlab CI to ensure quality, also for development branches and incoming merge requests. To contribute, please submit a merge request. Your merge request should maintain or increase the test coverage.

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