Monthly Downloads: 0
Programming language: CSS
Tags: Markdown     Documentation    
Latest version: v0.9.0

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Flatdoc is a small JavaScript file that fetches Markdown files and renders them as full pages. Essentially, it's the easiest way to make open source documentation from Readme files.

  • No server-side components
  • No build process needed
  • Deployable via GitHub Pages
  • Can fetch GitHub Readme files
  • Gorgeous default theme (and it's responsive)
  • Just create an HTML file and deploy!

Current version: v0.9.0

Build Status

Getting started

Create a file based on the template, which has a bare DOM, link to the scripts, and a link to a theme. It will look something like this (not exact). For GitHub projects, simply place this file in your GitHub pages branch and you're all good to go.

In short: just download this file and upload it somewhere.

The main JS and CSS files are also available in npm and bower.

Default theme template >

Blank template >

Via GitHub

To fetch a Github Repository's readme file, use the Flatdoc.github fetcher. This will fetch the Readme file of the repository's default branch.

  fetcher: Flatdoc.github('USER/REPO')

You may also fetch another file other than the Readme file, just specify it as the 2nd parameter.

  fetcher: Flatdoc.github('USER/REPO', 'Changelog.md')

After you've done this, you probably want to deploy it via GitHub Pages.

GitHub Pages guide >

Via a file

You may also fetch a file. In this example, this fetches the file Readme.md in the same folder as the HTML file.

  fetcher: Flatdoc.file('Readme.md')

You may actually supply any URL here. It will be fetched via AJAX. This is useful for local testing.

  fetcher: Flatdoc.file('http://yoursite.com/Readme.md')

How it works

Flatdoc is a hosted .js file (along with a theme and its assets) that you can add into any page hosted anywhere.

All client-side

There are no build scripts or 3rd-party services involved. Everything is done in the browser. Worried about performance? Oh, It's pretty fast.

Flatdoc utilizes the GitHub API to fetch your project's Readme files. You may also configure it to fetch any arbitrary URL via AJAX.

Lightning-fast parsing

Next, it uses marked, an extremely fast Markdown parser that has support for GitHub flavored Markdown.

Flatdoc then simply renders menu and content DOM elements to your HTML document. Flatdoc also comes with a default theme to style your page for you, or you may opt to create your own styles.

Markdown extras

Flatdoc offers a few harmless, unobtrusive extras that come in handy in building documentation sites.

Code highlighting

You can use Markdown code fences to make syntax-highlighted text. Simply surround your text with three backticks. This works in GitHub as well. See GitHub Syntax Highlighting for more info.

``` html
<strong>Hola, mundo</strong>

Blockquotes show up as side figures. This is useful for providing side information or non-code examples.

Blockquotes are blocks that begin with >.

Smart quotes

Single quotes, double quotes, and double-hyphens are automatically replaced to their typographically-accurate equivalent. This, of course, does not apply to <code> and <pre> blocks to leave code alone.

"From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached."
--Franz Kafka


If your link text has a > at the end (for instance: Continue >), they show up as buttons.

View in GitHub >



Theme options

For the default theme (theme-white), You can set theme options by adding classes to the <body> element. The available options are:


Makes 3rd-level headings bigger.

<body class='big-h3'>

Disables "literate" mode, where code appears on the right and content text appear on the left.

<body class='no-literate'>

Makes the opening paragraph large.

<body class='large-brief'>

Adding more markup

You have full control over the HTML file, just add markup wherever you see fit. As long as you leave role='flatdoc-content' and role='flatdoc-menu' empty as they are, you'll be fine.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Add a CSS file to make your own CSS adjustments.
  • Add a 'Tweet' button on top.
  • Add Google Analytics.
  • Use CSS to style the IDs in menus (#acknowledgements + p).

JavaScript hooks

Flatdoc emits the events flatdoc:loading and flatdoc:ready to help you make custom behavior when the document loads.

$(document).on('flatdoc:ready', function() {
  // I don't like this section to appear

Full customization

You don't have to be restricted to the given theme. Flatdoc is just really one .js file that expects 2 HTML elements (for menu and content). Start with the blank template and customize as you see fit.

Get blank template >



The following projects have inspired Flatdoc.

  • Backbone.js - Jeremy's projects have always adopted this "one page documentation" approach which I really love.

  • Docco - Jeremy's Docco introduced me to the world of literate programming, and side-by-side documentation in general.

  • Stripe - Flatdoc took inspiration on the look of their API documentation.

  • DocumentUp - This service has the same idea but does a hosted readme parsing approach.


Photo taken from Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons.


© 2013, 2014, Rico Sta. Cruz. Released under the MIT License.

Flatdoc is authored and maintained by Rico Sta. Cruz with help from its contributors.

*Note that all licence references and agreements mentioned in the Flatdoc README section above are relevant to that project's source code only.