2.1. Overview

Now that we have a working Bookdown installation, let's create some content and generate HTML from it. We need to deal with two things: our actual Markdown content files, and a bookdown.json config file to organize them.

2.1.1. Markdown Content Files

Bookdown uses CommonMark Markdown as its default markup. (Advanced users may write other conversion processes to use other markups.) This means that standard Markdown content is already suitable for use with Bookdown.

2.1.2. The bookdown.json Config File

The bookdown.json config file controls the title of our table-of-contents index page, and the content to be used for HTML generation. A bookdown.json config file looks like this:

    "title": "My Title",
    "content": [
    "target": "./html",
    "template": "[path to Composer vendor]/myname/bookdown-templates/templates/main.php",
    "rootHref": "http://example.com/",
    "tocDepth": 2,
    "copyright": "Copyright (c) 2016 <a href=\"http://bookdown.io/\">Bokdown.io</a>",
    "extensions": {
      "commonmark": [

N.b.: The top-level bookdown.json has other elements that control book generation; we can ignore these for now. Title String

The "title" string determines the heading that will be used for the table-of-contents entry for the listed content. Content Array

The "content" array specifies the order of pages, and the origins of those pages. Content String Elements

Each content array element is an origin string. It determines both where the content is located, and the target name when rendering it into HTML.

  • If the origin string ends in bookdown.json, the target name will the directory in which the bookdown.json file is stored, and the "content" in that bookdown.json file will be rendered into that directory.

  • Otherwise, the target name is the same as the origin file name, minus any .ext file extension.

The origin strings may point to:

  • an absolute file path (with a leading directory separator)

  • a file path relative to the bookdown.json file (no leading directory separator)

  • a remote path, such as http://example.com/path/to/page.md or http://example.com/section/bookdown.json

N.b.: The use of remote paths makes it possible to collect content from many different sources into a single book. Content Object Elements

Sometimes you will want the target name to be different from the origin name. In these cases, the "content" element can be an object of a single key-value pair, where the key is the target name and the value is the origin.

The following is equivalent to the above:

    "title": "My Book",
    "content": [
        {"page": "page.md"},
        {"section": "section/bookdown.json"}

The key (target name) can be any name you like, so the following uses the same origin files but sets different targets:

    "title": "My Book",
    "content": [
        {"alternative-page-name": "page.md"},
        {"alternative-section-name": "section/bookdown.json",
} Target String

The "target" string determines the folder where to store the generated HTML files. Template String

The "template" string determines the path to main file of a 3rd party template which is installed via Composer for example. Please refer to the Advanced Topics section for more details. RootHref String

The "rootHref" string is used to generate the full URL of the page links. This can be / or 'http://example.com/' for example. TocDepth String

The "tocDepth" string determines the depth of the table of contents. A value of 1 means that only H1 headings are displayed. The value 2 means that only H1 and H2 headings are displayed and so on. Value 0 means all headings will be displayed, this is the default value. Copyright String

The "copyright" string is used in the footer to display the copyright of the documentation. HTML is allowed. Extensions Array

The extensions array is used to extend the default Markdown parsing process with plugins. Actually only CommonMark extensions are supported. Please ensure that the extension classes are available via Composer autoloading. CommonMark Extensions

The "commonmark" array is a list of CommonMark extension classes. All CommonMark extensions are supported which can be instantiated without any dependencies. The entry must be a FCQN of the extension class. No "index" Content Names

The target name index is reserved by Bookdown for table-of-contents pages. If you have an origin that will end up with an index target name, use a "content" object to rename it to something else.