A Python filter to manage acronyms

# 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.

## HOWTO: pip install pandoc-acronyms

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. The keys start with a character and may consist of letters, numbers, dashes, the plus sign and underscores ("a-b", "ab", "a_b" or "c++", but not "++c").

The replacements will be made to the text and are independent of the selected output format. While tools such as pandoc-ac help users with generating acronym commands in LaTeX, pandoc-acronyms is designed to work directly on the document text.

## Using acronyms in the input text

The most common way to write an acronym in the text is [!key]. To customize the output, the acronym specification can be made more specific:

• [!+key] selects the plural form of the acronym.
• [!^key] selects the uppercase form of the acronym. This only affects the long form, the abbreviated short form will not be changed.
• [!+^key] For plural uppercase variants, plural must be specified first.

It is also possible to select which form should be inserted into the text (this can be combined with plural or uppercase selection):

• [!key>] inserts the long form ("beer brewing attitude").
• [!key<] inserts the short form ("BBA").
• [!key!] inserts the explained form ("beer brewing attitude (BBA)").

## Using the filter with pandoc

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

> pandoc --filter pandoc-acronyms document.md


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.

Options:
-a, --acronyms TEXT           A file with acronym definitions in JSON
format.
-v, --verbose / --no-verbose  Enable verbose output.
-s, --suggest / --no-suggest  Suggest marking acronyms detected in the text.
-e, --error / --no-error      Exit with an error if an undefined acronym is
used.
-d, --debug / --no-debug      Enable debug output.
--version                     Show the version and exit.
--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. All command line options of pandoc-acronyms can be controlled with environment variables the same way:

• --acronyms: PANDOC_ACRONYMS_ACRONYMS
• --verbose/--no-verbose: PANDOC_ACRONYMS_VERBOSE
• --suggest/--no-suggest': PANDOC_ACRONYMS_SUGGEST
• --error/--no-error: PANDOC_ACRONYMS_ERROR
• --debug/--no-debug: PANDOC_ACRONYMS_DEBUG

## Installation

The pandoc-acronyms program is released via the Python Package Index:

> pip install pandoc-acronyms
...


Alternatively, developers can clone the main repository and install using Python setuptools:

> python setup.py install
...


Once installed either way, the filter 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 system to ensure quality, also for development branches and incoming merge requests. Deployment to PyPI is automated. Development branches and merge requests will be deployed to the PyPI test instance as development packages. Commits to master will be deployed to regular PyPI as development packages. Tagged versions on master are deployed to PyPI as stable releases.

To contribute, please submit a merge request. Your merge request should maintain or increase the test coverage.

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