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Madness - Instant Markdown Server

Madness is a command line server for rendering markdown documents in your browser. It is designed to facilitate easy development of internal markdown-based documentation sites.

Table of Contents




Using Ruby:

$ gem install madness

Using Homebrew:

$ brew install brew-gem
$ brew gem install madness

Using Docker:

$ alias madness='docker run --rm -it -v $PWD:/docs -p 3000:3000 dannyben/madness'

Feature Highlights


Go to any directory that contains markdown files and run:

$ madness server

And open http://localhost:3000 in your browser.

For more options, run:

$ madness --help

Directory Conventions

Madness expects to be executed in a documentation directory.

A documentation directory contains only markdown files (*.md) and sub directories that contain more markdown files.

The navigation sidebar will show all the sub directories and files in the same directory as the viewed file.

Example structure:

├── Another
├── Folder
│   ├──
│   └── image.png
└── Another Folder

Configuration File

Madness uses sensible defaults, so therefore can be executed without configuring anything. Configuration is mostly done by having a file named .madness.yml in your documentation directory.

For convenience, you can generate a template config file by running:

$ madness config new

which will generate this file, with all the default options:

# .madness.yml

# path to the documentation root
path: .

# server port
port: 3000

# server listen address

# set a server root path, for example:
# base_uri: /docs
base_uri: ~

# set the underlying markdown renderer:
# renderer: redcarpet    # default renderer
# renderer: pandoc       # pandoc renderer, requires pandoc command
renderer: redcarpet

# choose navigation sort order:
# sort_order: dirs_first     # alphabetic directories then alphabetic files
# sort_order: mixed          # alphabetic regardless of type
sort_order: dirs_first

# enable sidebar
sidebar: true

# add H1 title to files that do not have one
auto_h1: true

# append navigation to directory READMEs
auto_nav: true

# replace <!-- TOC --> in any file with its internal table of contents
# set to true to enable it with the default '## Table of Contents' caption,
# or set to any string that will be inserted before it as a caption.
auto_toc: true

# enable syntax highlighter for code snippets
highlighter: true

# enable mermaid diagramming and charting
# put your diagram code inside <div class='mermaid'>...</div>
mermaid: false

# enable the copy to clipboard icon for code snippets
copy_code: true

# convert [[Links]] to [Links](Links)
shortlinks: false

# generate a table of contents file with this name, for example:
# toc: Table of Contents
toc: ~

# path to theme folder, for example:
# theme: _theme
theme: ~

# enable a link to the page's source at the bottom of each page by setting
# a URL pattern here. Use '%{path}' anywhere in the string to get the
# URI-encoded path of the page.
# source_link:{path}
source_link: ~

# if source_link is enabled, you can change the default link label
# source_link_label: Edit Page
source_link_label: Page Source

# if source_link is enabled, you can change its position (top / bottom)
# source_link_pos: top
source_link_pos: bottom

# open the server URL in the browser
open: false

# provide user:password for basic authentication, for example:
# auth: admin:s3cr3t
auth: false

# if auth is enabled, specify auth realm name
auth_zone: Restricted Documentation

# show files with these extensions in the navigation and search, for example:
# expose_extensions: pdf,docx,xlsx,txt
expose_extensions: ~

# exclude directories that match these regular expressions
# note that this is an array
exclude: ['^[a-z_\-0-9]+$']


Cover Pages

Cover pages are specially named markdown files that serve as the introduction to the contents of a specific directory.

The server will consider any of the following files as cover pages (prioritized):

For example, for a directory named "API Documentation":

Madness comes with a full text search page.

Images and Static Files

You can put images and other asset files anywhere in your documentation folder.

When linking to other pages or images in your documentation folder, simply use the URL relative to the markdown file.

For example, if you have a folder named subfolder that contains a and a nice-picture.png, showing it in your README is done by this markdown:

![alt text](nice-picture.png)

If you wish to link to images or pages in a different folder, simply specify the path relative to the homepage:

![alt text](/images/nice-picture.png)

Automatic H1

If your markdown document does not start with a level 1 heading, it will be automatically added based on the file name.

When the shortlinks option is enabled, you may use a shorthand syntax for specifying internal links, where [[Anything]] will be converted to [Anything](Anything), which will then be rendered as an internal link to a file or a directory in the same directory as the file itself.

Mermaid Diagrams and Charts

When the mermaid option is enabled, you may display any mermaid diagram in your document by enclosing it in a <div class='mermaid'>...</div> block.

Table of Contents Generation


To generate a Table of Contents file for the entire site (for the directories and files), add something like this to your .madness.yml file:

toc: Table of

This directive will (re)generate the specified file whenever you start the server.


If you have long markdown documents, and you wish to add an inline Table of Contents for them, simply add an HTML comment <!-- TOC --> where you want the Table of Contents to be generated. The inserted list will only consider H2 and H3 headings.

Note that for this feature to work, your markdown document must use the #-based heading syntax.

The 'Table of Contents' heading can be customized in the configuration file.

Hidden Directories

Directories that are made only of lowercase letters, underscoes, dash and/or numbers (/^[a-z_\-0-9]+$/) will not be displayed in the navigation. In other words, directories must have at least one uppercase letter or a space to be recognized as a documentation directory.

This can be configured by using the exclude configuration option:

# do not ignore any directory
exclude: ~

# ignore only specific directories
exclude: [assets, public]

# ignore using regular expressions
exclude: ['^public$', 'assets']

Controlling Sort Order

To control the sort order of the automatically generated navigation elements, simply prefix your files and directories with digits followed by a dot and a space, just like you would create an ordered list in Markdown. The numbers will be omitted when they are displayed.

├── 1. Some file or folder
└── 2. Another file or folder

Note that by default, directories will appear above files. If you wish to change this, set sort_order: mixed in your configuration file.

Displaying Additional File Types

If you wish the navigation and search features to also show other documents and files (for example, PDF files), you may configure the expose_extensions option in the configuration file to contain a comma delimited list of extensions:

expose_extensions: pdf,docx,xlsx,txt

The default value of this option is null (or ~, which is null in YAML).

Basic Authentication

To add basic authentication, use the --auth user:password command line argument or the equivalent auth configuration option.

If you wish to avoid storing the basic authentication credentials in the configuration file, you may use ERB tags to load the credentials from environment variables:

auth: <%= ENV['BASIC_AUTH'] %>

Customizing Theme

There are three ways to change how Madness looks.

Option 1: CSS Overrides

Any CSS file found in the ./css directory of your documentation root will be loaded after the main CSS.

You can use the following command to create a css/colors.css file, which lets you override all colors.

$ madness theme colors

Option 2: Override the entire CSS

If your documentation root contains a file named css/main.css it will be loaded instead of the built-in madness CSS.

You can get the built-in CSS file by running the following command.

$ madness theme css

Option 3: Change CSS and HTML (Slim)

In order to have complete control over the CSS and generated HTML, you can override the views and styles. Views are provided as Slim templates, and CSS is provided as SCSS.

You can get these files by running the following command.

$ madness theme full my_theme

Where my_theme is the folder that will be created.

To use the created theme, simply run Madness with the --theme my_theme option (which can also be configured in the configuration file).

$ madness server --theme my_theme

Note that the generated theme contains the SCSS files in the styles subfolder, and the rendered CSS files in the public/css subfolder.

If you wish to use the SCSS files, you will need to render them yourself to the location of your theme styles (e.g. public/css) - you can use any tool to do so, or if you do not have a preference, use SassTool.

Docker Image

Madness server is also available as a docker image.

This command will start the server on localhost:3000, with the current directory as the markdown documentation folder

$ docker run --rm -it -v $PWD:/docs -p 3000:3000 dannyben/madness server

You may create an alias for convenience:

$ alias madness='docker run --rm -it -v $PWD:/docs -p 3000:3000 dannyben/madness'
$ madness --help

or use docker compose:

# docker-compose.yml
    image: dannyben/madness
    volumes: [".:/docs"]
    ports: ["3000:3000"]
    command: server

For more information about the docker image, see: