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As of release 8.0, Org-mode has transitioned to a new export framework, authored primarily (entirely?) by Nicolas Goaziou...

Perhaps this could be filled in with some of the technical reasons and advantages of the new exporter by Nicolas or someone else familiar with with it's inner workings?

For instructions on how to upgrade from the previous Org-mode exporter, see the upgrade guide.

Nicolas' official announcement of the exporter may be viewed at the Org-mode mailing list post. This document presents an overview of features, as well as a list of currently supported exporter backends. Exporting and publishing are also documented in the Org-mode manual. See ox-docstrings and org-element-docstrings for the extracted docstrings from these two core libraries of the new Org-mode exporter, i.e. for detailled technical information about the exporter framework.

List of Org-mode exporters

Please find below a list of current Org-mode exporters, the location of the backend elisp file (relative to downloaded Org-mode installation directory, org) and links Worg and Org-mode manual documentation.

*Name* *Exporter location* *Worg Tutorial* *Org-mode Manual*
ASCII =./lisp/ox-ascii.el= ox-ascii ASCII/Latin-1/UTF-8 export
Beamer =./lisp/ox-beamer.el= ox-beamer Beamer class export
HTML =./lisp/ox-html.el= ox-html HTML export
iCalendar =./lisp/ox-icalandar.el= ox-icalendar
LaTeX =./lisp/ox-latex.el= ox-latex LaTeX and PDF export
Man =./lisp/ox-man.el= ox-man
Markdown =./lisp/ox-md.el= ox-md
ODT =./lisp/ox-odt.el= ox-odt OpenDocument Text export
Publishing =./lisp/ox-publish.el= ox-publish Publishing
Texinfo =./lisp/ox-texinfo.el= ox-texinfo
Confluence =./contrib/lisp/ox-confluence.el= ox-confluence
Deck.js =./contrib/lisp/ox-deck.el= ox-deck
Freemind =./contrib/lisp/ox-freemind.el= ox-freemind Freemind export
Groff =./contrib/lisp/ox-groff.el= ox-groff
Koma Scrlttr2 =./contrib/lisp/ox-koma-letter.el= ox-koma-letter
RSS =./contrib/lisp/ox-rss.el= ox-rss
S5 =./contrib/lisp/ox-s5.el= ox-s5
Taskjuggler =./contrib/lisp/ox-taskjuggler.el= ox-taskjuggler Taskjuggler export
DocBook (1) - -
  • (1) DocBook export, available in previous Org-mode versions, has not currently been ported
  • to the new exporter, however the new =ox-texinfo= backend can generate DocBook format. Once =file.texi= is created via =ox-texinfo=, simply execute:

makeinfo --docbook file.texi

General Documentation

This page is in progress. Please be patient as it is updated.

TODO Add details about general export usage and information noexport

TODO Migrate Nicolas' mailing list summary here noexport

Here is the email text to allow for easy reference in this document. The contents of his email should end up in this document somehow or another, as this should serve as the primary source of information in addition to the manual for the exporter in general.

If you migrate some information to this actual document, please delete it so that the quote below serves as a body of "todo" text.

Remember: This is just for general exporter information and usage; backend-specific things should be housed in their appropriate repository. If the page doesn't exist, feel free to create it. There's a template here.

Table of Contents ─────────────────

1 To Whom Used the Experimental Version 2 What’s New .. 2.1 New Back-Ends .. 2.2 Drawer Handling .. 2.3 Special Blocks .. 2.4 Improved Asynchronous Export .. 2.5 Smart Quotes .. 2.6 Cross Referencing .. 2.7 Lists of Tables, Lists of Listings 3 Installation 4 Configuration .. 4.1 Variables .. 4.2 Hooks .. 4.3 Filters .. 4.4 Forking a Back-End 5 Caveats 6 Footnotes


I will install the new export framework along with a set of back-ends Wednesday evening (UTC). Here are a few notes to help you make the transition.

1 To Whom Used the Experimental Version ═══════════════════════════════════════

The merge implies some renaming for symbols and files. More precisely, “e-” is removed from symbols like variable names, functions and back-ends and “org-e-” becomes “ox-” in files. To sum it up:

━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━ Old name New name ─────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── e-latex latex org-e-latex ox-latex org-export-latex-packages-alist org-latex-packages-alist ━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━

Be sure to check filters and requires in your configuration files.

2 What’s New ════════════

Even though the internals are completely different, the new exporter mostly behaves like its predecessor. There are only a few noticeable changes.

2.1 New Back-Ends ─────────────────

New back-ends come with the new export engine:

• Markdown back-end (name: `md') • Texinfo back-end (name: `texinfo') • Man back-end (name: `man')

Most of the other back-ends have been rewritten from scratch, too.

2.2 Drawer Handling ───────────────────

By default, every drawer but “properties” and “logbook” has its contents exported. See `org-export-with-drawers' variable.

2.3 Special Blocks ──────────────────

The `org-special-blocks.el' library, which has been moved to “contrib/”, is obsolete since its features are included in the new export framework.

2.4 Improved Asynchronous Export ────────────────────────────────

Export can be asynchronous independently on the type of the source or output (temporary buffer or file). A special interface, called “The Export Stack”, is used to view the output. See `org-export-in-background' variable.

2.5 Smart Quotes ────────────────

All back-ends have support for “smart” quotes, according to `org-export-default-language' value or the `LANGUAGE' specifications in the buffer. See `org-export-with-smart-quotes'. As of now, only “de”, “en”, “es” and “fr” languages are supported, but it’s easy to add more. See `org-export-smart-quotes-alist'. Do not hesitate to contribute more languages.

2.6 Cross Referencing ─────────────────────

Export has now full support for cross references, through targets and `#+NAME' attributes[1]. Pay attention to the following example.

╭──── │ #+CAPTION: A table │ #+NAME: table │ | a | b | │ │ #+CAPTION: Another table │ #+NAME: other-table │ | c | d | │ │ 1. <>item 1 │ 2. item 2 │ │ Look at item itm! It happens after table other-table. ╰────

When exported, the last line will be displayed as:

╭──── │ Look at item 1! It happens after table 2. ╰────

It doesn’t depend on the back-end used. It also references footnotes, headlines, LaTeX environments…

2.7 Lists of Tables, Lists of Listings ──────────────────────────────────────

There is support for lists of tables and lists of listings in some back-ends with the following syntax:

╭──── │ #+TOC: headlines ╰────

╭──── │ #+TOC: tables ╰────

╭──── │ #+TOC: listings ╰────

3 Installation ══════════════

There are two ways to install export back-ends.

  1. You may customize `org-export-backends' variable. It contains
  2. the list of back-ends that should always be available.
  1. You can also simply require the back-end libraries
  2. (e.g. `(require 'ox-icalendar)' for the iCalendar back-end).

Note that with method 1, the back-ends will be loaded only when the export framework is used for the first time.

4 Configuration ═══════════════

Previously, the export engine was configured through variables and numerous hooks. Now, there are variables, only two hooks and filters. One can also easily fork a new export back-end from an existing one.

4.1 Variables ─────────────

The easiest way to browse configurable variables should be through customize interface. Though, the old export framework is still lurking in the Org shipped with Emacs. As a consequence, calling “customize” will also load previous export engine. It can lead to confusion as variables in both frameworks share the same suffix. You will have to be careful and double check the origin of each variable being considered. Anyway, if you still want to go through this, the following command will get you to the right starting point:

╭──── │ M-x customize-group RET org-export RET ╰────

However, I suggest to browse the source files and look after `defcustom' entries.

4.2 Hooks ─────────

Two hooks are run during the first steps of the export process. The first one, `org-export-before-processing-hook' is called before expanding macros, Babel code and include keywords in the buffer. The second one, `org-export-before-parsing-hook', as its name suggests, happens just before parsing the buffer. Their main use is for heavy duties, that is duties involving structural modifications of the document. For example, one may want to remove every headline in the buffer during export. The following code can achieve this:

╭──── │ 1 (defun my-headline-removal (backend) │ 2 "Remove all headlines in the current buffer. │ 3 BACKEND is the export back-end being used, as a symbol." │ 4 (org-map-entries │ 5 (lambda () (delete-region (point) (progn (forward-line) (point)))))) │ 6 (add-hook 'org-export-before-parsing-hook 'my-headline-removal) ╰────

Note that functions used in these hooks require a mandatory argument, as shown at line 1.

4.3 Filters ───────────

Filters are lists of functions applied on a specific part of the output from a given back-end. More explicitly, each time a back-end transforms an Org object or element into another language, all functions within a given filter type are called in turn on the string produced. The string returned by the last function will be the one used in the final output. There are filters sets for each type of element or object, for plain text, for the parse tree, for the export options and for the final output. They are all named after the same scheme: `org-export-filter-TYPE-functions', where `type' is the type targeted by the filter. For example, the following snippet allows me to use non-breaking spaces in the Org buffer and get them translated into LaTeX without using the `\nbsp' macro:

╭──── │ 1 (defun ngz-latex-filter-nobreaks (text backend info) │ 2 "Ensure \" \" are properly handled in LaTeX export." │ 3 (when (org-export-derived-backend-p backend 'latex) │ 4 (replace-regexp-in-string " " "~" text))) │ 5 (add-to-list 'org-export-filter-plain-text-functions │ 6 'ngz-latex-filter-nobreaks) ╰────

Three arguments must be provided to a fiter (line 1): the code being changed, the back-end used, and some information about the export process. You can safely ignore the third argument for most purposes. Note (line 3) the use of `org-export-derived-backend-p', which ensures that the filter will only be applied when using `latex' back-end or any other back-end derived from it (i.e. `beamer').

4.4 Forking a Back-End ──────────────────────

This is obviously the most powerful customization, since you work directly at the parser level. Indeed, complete export back-ends are built as forks from other once (e.g. Markdown exporter is forked from the HTML one). Forking a back-end means that if an element type is not transcoded by the new back-end, it will be handled by the original one. Hence you can extend specific parts of a back-end without too much work. As an example, imagine we want the `ascii' back-end to display the language used in a source block, when it is available, but only when some attribute is non-nil, like the following:

╭──── │ #+ATTR_ASCII: :language t ╰────

Because the `ascii' back-end is lacking in that area, we are going to create a new back-end, `my-ascii', that will do the job.

╭──── │ 1 (defun my-ascii-src-block (src-block contents info) │ 2 "Transcode a SRC-BLOCK element from Org to ASCII. │ 3 CONTENTS is nil. INFO is a plist used as a communication │ 4 channel." │ 5 (let ((visiblep │ 6 (org-export-read-attribute :attr_ascii src-block :language))) │ 7 (if (not visiblep) │ 8 (org-export-with-backend 'ascii src-block contents info) │ 9 (let ((utf8p (eq (plist-get info :ascii-charset) 'utf-8))) │ 10 (concat │ 11 (format │ 12 (if utf8p "╭──[ %s ]──\n%s╰────" ",--[ %s ]--\n%s`----") │ 13 (org-element-property :language src-block) │ 14 (replace-regexp-in-string │ 15 "^" (if utf8p "│ " "| ") │ 16 (org-element-normalize-string │ 17 (org-export-format-code-default src-block info))))))))) │ 18 │ 19 (org-export-define-derived-backend my-ascii parent │ 20 :translate-alist ((src-block . my-ascii-src-block))) ╰────

The `my-ascii-src-block' function looks at the attribute above the element (line 6). If it isn’t true, it gives hand to the `ascii' back-end (line 8). Otherwise, it creates a box around the code, leaving room for the language. A fork of `ascii' back-end is then created (line 19). It only changes its behaviour when translating `src-block' type element (line 20). Now, all it takes to use the new back-end is calling the following on a buffer:

╭──── │ (org-export-to-buffer 'my-ascii "*Org MY-ASCII Export*") ╰────

It is obviously possible to write an interactive function for this, install it in the export dispatcher menu, and so on.

5 Caveats ═════════

  1. Although the old exporter files have been archived into
  2. “contrib/” directory, they are not usable anymore. Org 7.9 will be the last release to provide it.
  1. As a consequence, three export back-ends are not available
  2. anymore: Taskjuggler, XOXO and Docbook. About the latter, there is a new back-end that produces Texinfo files, which can then be converted into Docbook format with:

╭──── │ makeinfo --docbook file.texi ╰────

  1. Export section from Org manual is now obsolete. It is being
  2. rewritten, but until this task is completed, your best source of information will still be the ML or the source files.

Footnotes ─────────

[1] Though, it will expect a caption to be properly numbered.