1. Introduction

Welcome to the documentation for Literate – a simplistic package for Literate Programming.


Literate is a package that generates markdown pages (for e.g. Documenter.jl), and Jupyter notebooks, from the same source file. There is also an option to "clean" the source from all metadata, and produce a pure Julia script.

The main design goal is simplicity. It should be simple to use, and the syntax should be simple. In short, all you have to do is to write a commented julia script!

The public interface consists of three functions, all of which take the same script file as input, but generate different output:

  • Literate.markdown generates a markdown file. Code snippets can be executed and the results included in the output.
  • Literate.notebook generates a notebook. Code snippets can be executed and the results included in the output.
  • Literate.script generates a plain script file scrubbed from all metadata and special syntax.


Examples are (probably) the best way to showcase your awesome package, and examples are often the best way for a new user to learn how to use it. It is therefore important that the documentation of your package contains examples for users to read and study. However, people are different, and we all prefer different ways of trying out a new package. Some people want to RTFM, others want to explore the package interactively in, for example, a notebook, and some people want to study the source code. The aim of Literate is to make it easy to give the user all of these options, while still keeping maintenance to a minimum.

It is quite common that packages have "example notebooks" to showcase the package. Notebooks are great for showcasing a package, but they are not so great with version control, like git. The reason being that a notebook is a very "rich" format since it contains output and other metadata. Changes to the notebook thus result in large diffs, which makes it harder to review the actual changes.

It is also common that packages include examples in the documentation, for example by using Documenter.jl @example-blocks. This is also great, but it is not quite as interactive as a notebook, for the users who prefer that.

Literate tries to solve the problems above by creating the output as a part of the doc build. Literate generates the output based on a single source file which makes it easier to maintain, test, and keep the manual and your example notebooks in sync.