What are some document converters like Pandoc

search

As today's advent calendar door, there is a brief introduction to pandoc, the universal document converter.

purpose

The main function of pandocs is to convert documents from one format to another. For example, docx Files are converted to HTML, LibreOffice odt Files to PDF or Markdown in the eBook format EPUB. Plain text formats like the one used on Wikipedia mediawiki, can be read and written as well as publication formats à la JATS.

During the conversion, the focus is on content and meaning, i.e. on retaining semantic information such as “headline” and “quote”. The appearance is of secondary importance, but can be flexibly adapted by the user.

functionality

To accomplish the huge amount of possible conversions, Pandoc uses a trick: Scanned documents are converted into a simple, internal format. This internal format is then converted into the desired output format. With this trick any readable format can be converted into any supported output format.

The uniform internal format also enables the document to be processed automatically. With so-called filters, formats can be expanded to include new functions and documents can be adapted to specifications. A collection of prefabricated filters is available for free use.

Try out

Pandoc is a pure command line program, so it must be controlled by entering text commands. Installation instructions and help on getting started can be found on the website https://pandoc.org (in English).

history

Pandoc started out as a casual experiment. John MacFarlane, professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, just wanted the extraordinary programming language Haskell test out and wrote a converter between Markdown and reStructuredText. In the 14 years since the beginning, more and more formats have been added. More and more people contributed to the open source project. In the meantime, over 300 people have participated with code, and many more have brought in and come up with suggestions for improvement. The program has been downloaded millions of times and is also used commercially.