ronn man page

ronn — convert markdown files to manpages


ronn [format...] file...
ronn -m|--man file...
ronn -S|--server file...
ronn --pipe file
ronn < file


Ronn converts textfiles to standard roff-formatted UNIX manpages or HTML. ronn-format(7) is based on markdown(7) but includes additional rules and syntax geared toward authoring manuals.

In its default mode, ronn converts one or more input files to HTML or roff output files. The --roff, --html, and --fragment options dictate which output files are generated. Multiple format arguments may be specified to generate multiple output files. Output files are named after and written to the same directory as input files.

The --server and --man options change the output behavior from file generation to serving dynamically generated HTML manpages or viewing file as with man(1).

With no file arguments, ronn acts as simple filter. Ronn source text is read from standard input and roff output is written to standard output. Use the --html, --roff, and/or --fragment options to select the output format.


The ronn command expects input to be valid ronn-format(7) text. Source files are typically named name.section.ronn (e.g., example.1.ronn). The name and section should match the name and section defined in the file´s heading.

When building roff or HTML output files, destination filenames are determined by taking the basename of the input file and adding the appropriate file extension (or removing the file extension in the case of roff output). For example, executing ronn example.1.ronn generates example.1 with roff output and example.1.html with HTML output.


These options control whether output is written to file(s), standard output, or directly to a man pager.

-m, --man
Don´t generate files, display files as if man(1) were invoked on the roff output file. This simulates default man behavior by piping the roff output through groff(1) and the paging program specified by the MANPAGER environment variable.
-S, --server

Don´t generate files, start an HTTP server at http://localhost:1207/ and serve dynamically generated HTML for the set of input files. A file named example.2.ronn is served as /example.2.html. There´s also an index page at the root with links to each file.

The server respects the --style and document attribute options (--manual, --date, etc.). These same options can be varied at request time by giving them as query parameters: ?manual=FOO&style=dark,toc

NOTE: The builtin server is designed to assist in the process of writing and styling manuals. It is in no way recommended as a general purpose web server.

Don´t generate files, write generated output to standard output. This is the default behavior when ronn source text is piped in on standard input and no file arguments are provided.

Format options control the files ronn generates, or the output format when the --pipe argument is specified. When no format options are given, both --roff and --html are assumed.

-r, --roff
Generate roff output. This is the default behavior when no files are given and ronn source text is read from standard input.
-5, --html
Generate output in HTML format.
-f, --fragment
Generate output in HTML format but only the document fragment, not the header, title, or footer.

Document attributes displayed in the header and footer areas of generated content are specified with these options. (These values may also be set via the Environment.)

The name of the manual this man page belongs to; manual is prominently displayed top-center in the header area.
The name of the group, organization, or individual responsible for publishing the document; name is displayed in the bottom-left footer area.
The document´s published date; date must be formatted YYYY-MM-DD and is displayed in the bottom-center footer area. The file mtime is used when no date is given, or the current time when no file is available.

HTML output can be customized through the use of CSS stylesheets:


The list of CSS stylesheets to apply to the document. Multiple module arguments may be specified, but must be separated by commas or spaces.

When module is a simple word, search for files named module.css in all directories listed in the RONN_STYLE environment variable, and then search internal styles.

When module includes a / character, use it as the full path to a stylesheet file.

Internal styles are man (included by default), toc, and 80c. See Styles for descriptions of features added by each module.

Miscellaneous options:

-w, --warnings
Show troff warnings on standard error when performing roff conversion. Warnings are most often the result of a bug in ronn´s HTML to roff conversion logic.
Disable troff warnings. Warnings are disabled by default. This option can be used to revert the effect of a previous -w argument.
-v, --version
Show ronn version and exit.


The --style option selects a list of CSS stylesheets to include in the generated HTML. Styles are applied in the order defined, so each can use the cascade to override previously defined styles.

Builtin Stylesheets

These styles are included with the distribution:

Basic manpage styles: typography, definition lists, indentation. This is always included regardless of --style argument. It is however possible to replace the default man module with a custom one by placing a man.css file on the RONN_STYLE path.
Basic print stylesheet. The generated <style> tag includes a media=print attribute.
Enables the Table of Contents navigation. The TOC markup is included in generated HTML by default but hidden with an inline display:none style rule; the toc module turns it on and applies basic TOC styles.
Light text on a dark background.
Changes the display width to mimic the display of a classic 80 character terminal. The default display width causes lines to wrap at a gratuitous 100 characters.

Custom Stylesheets

Writing custom stylesheets is straight-forward. The following core selectors allow targeting all generated elements:

The manual page container element. Present on full documents and document fragments.
Signifies that the page was fully-generated by Ronn and contains a single manual page (.mp element).
The three-item heading and footing elements both have this class.
.man-head, .man-foot
The heading and footing, respectively.
The main <h1> element. Hidden by default unless the manual has no name or section attributes.

See the builtin style sources http://github.com/rtomayko/ronn/tree/ma… for examples.


Build roff and HTML output files and view the roff manpage using man(1):

$ ronn some-great-program.1.ronn
roff: some-great-program.1
html: some-great-program.1.html
$ man ./some-great-program.1

Build only the roff manpage for all .ronn files in the current directory:

$ ronn --roff *.ronn
roff: mv.1
roff: ls.1
roff: cd.1
roff: sh.1

Build only the HTML manpage for a few files and apply the dark and toc stylesheets:

$ ronn --html --style=dark,toc mv.1.ronn ls.1.ronn
html: mv.1.html
html: ls.1.html

Generate roff output on standard output and write to file:

$ ronn <hello.1.ronn >hello.1

View a ronn file in the same way as man(1) without building a roff file:

$ ronn --man hello.1.ronn

Serve HTML manpages at http://localhost:1207/ for all *.ronn files under a man/ directory:

$ ronn --server man/*.ronn
$ open http://localhost:1207/


A default manual name to be displayed in the top-center header area. The --manual option takes precedence over this value.
The default manual publishing group, organization, or individual to be displayed in the bottom-left footer area. The --organization option takes precedence over this value.
The default manual date in YYYY-MM-DD format. Displayed in the bottom-center footer area. The --date option takes precedence over this value.
A PATH-style list of directories to check for stylesheets given to the --style option. Directories are separated by a :; blank entries are ignored. Use . to include the current working directory.
The paging program used for man pages. This is typically set to something like ´less -is´.
Used instead of MANPAGER when MANPAGER is not defined.


Ronn is written in Ruby and depends on hpricot and rdiscount, extension libraries that are non-trivial to install on some systems. A more portable version of this program would be welcome.

See Also

ronn-format(7), manpages(5), man(1), roff(7), groff(1), markdown(7)

Referenced By


Explore man page connections for ronn(1).

Ronn 0.7.0 June 2010