Contributing to pandoc
Welcome to pandoc! Very soon after its beginnings in 2006, pandoc has been influenced, improved, and modified, by users, devs, and newcomers alike. The project thrives on its active community. It is great to have you here.
How can I help?
There are many ways in which you can support pandoc. Here are a few ideas:
Participate in online discussions. The pandoc-discuss mailing list is a good place for this. This gives valuable input and makes it easier to improve the program.
Help with questions. Every request that is answered by the wider community frees time for programming contributors. This will speed up development of new features and issue fixes. Don’t underestimate your knowledge, please share it!
Write or improve documentation. If you ran into a problem which took more time to figure out than expected, please consider to save other users from the same experience. People writing the documentation tend to lack an outside view, so please help provide one. Good documentation is both difficult and extremely important.
The official docs are not the only place for documentation. Pandoc also has a Wiki. Private blogs can serve as documentation just as the official manual can.
Contribute code. No matter whether it’s a small fix in a format template or a huge lump of Haskell code: help is welcome. It’s usually a good idea to talk about the plans early, as this can prevent unnecessary work. See below for more information.
A rich ecosystem of libraries, editors, filters, and templates has developed around pandoc; conversely, pandoc builds and depends on a large number of libraries. Contributing to any of these projects is another way that can help to ensure stability, and to keep pushing the boundaries of what is possible with pandoc.
Have a question?
Ask on pandoc-discuss.
Found a bug?
Bug reports are welcome! Please report all bugs on pandoc’s GitHub issue tracker.
Make sure you can reproduce the bug with the latest released version of pandoc—or, even better, the development version, since the bug may have been fixed since the last release. Nightly builds are available, so you don’t need to compile from source to test against the development version. (To fetch a nightly, visit the link, click the topmost “Nightly” in the table, then choose your platform under “Artifacts.” Note that you must be logged in with a GitHub account.)
Your report should give detailed, reproducible instructions, including
- the pandoc version (check using
- the exact command line used
- the exact input used
- the output received
- the output you expected instead
A small test case (just a few lines) is ideal. If your input is large, try to whittle it down to a minimum working example.
Out of scope?
A less than perfect conversion does not necessarily mean there’s a bug in pandoc. Quoting from the MANUAL:
Because pandoc’s intermediate representation of a document is less expressive than many of the formats it converts between, one should not expect perfect conversions between every format and every other. Pandoc attempts to preserve the structural elements of a document, but not formatting details such as margin size. And some document elements, such as complex tables, may not fit into pandoc’s simple document model. While conversions from pandoc’s Markdown to all formats aspire to be perfect, conversions from formats more expressive than pandoc’s Markdown can be expected to be lossy.
For example, both
odt formats can represent
margin size, but because pandoc’s internal document model does not
contain a representation of margin size, this information will be lost
on converting from docx to
(You can, however, customize margin size using
So before submitting a bug report, consider whether it might be “out of scope.” If it concerns a feature of documents that isn’t representable in pandoc’s Markdown, then it very likely is. (If in doubt, you can always ask on pandoc-discuss.)
Fixing bugs from the issue tracker
Almost all the bugs on the issue tracker have one or more associated tags. These are used to indicate the complexity and nature of a bug. There is not yet a way to indicate priority. An up to date summary of issues can be found on GitHub labels.
- good first issue — The perfect starting point for new contributors. The issue is generic and can be resolved without deep knowledge of the code base.
- enhancement — A feature which would be desirable. We recommend you discuss any proposed enhancement on pandoc-discuss before writing code.
- bug — A problem which needs to be fixed.
- complexity:low — The fix should only be a couple of lines.
- complexity:high — The fix might require structural changes or in depth knowledge of the code base.
- new:reader — A request to add a new input format.
- new:writer — A request to add a new output format.
- docs — A discrepancy, or ambiguity in the documentation.
- status:in-progress — Someone is actively working on or planning to work on the ticket.
- status:more-discussion-needed — It is unclear what the correct approach to solving the ticket is. Before starting on tickets such as this it would be advisable to post on the ticket.
- status:more-info-needed — We require more information from a user before we can classify a report properly.
Issues related to a specific format are tagged accordingly, e.g. feature request or bug reports related to Markdown are labelled with format:markdown.
Have an idea for a new feature?
Explain the rationale for the feature you’re requesting. Why would this feature be useful? Consider also any possible drawbacks, including backwards compatibility, new library dependencies, and performance issues.
Features are very rarely “implement and forget”, as all code must be maintained. This is especially relevant for large or complex contributions. It is helpful to be sympathetic to that fact, and to communicate future plans and availability clearly.
Any potential new feature is best discussed on pandoc-discuss before opening an issue.
Patches and pull requests
Patches and pull requests are welcome. Before you put time into a nontrivial patch, it is a good idea to discuss it on pandoc-discuss, especially if it is for a new feature (rather than fixing a bug).
Please follow these guidelines:
Each patch (commit) should make a single logical change (fix a bug, add a feature, clean up some code, add documentation). Everything related to that change should be included (including tests and documentation), and nothing unrelated should be included.
The first line of the commit message should be a short description of the whole commit (ideally <= 50 characters). Then there should be a blank line, followed by a more detailed description of the change.
Follow the stylistic conventions you find in the existing pandoc code. Use spaces, not tabs, and wrap code to 80 columns. Always include type signatures for top-level functions. Consider installing EditorConfig, this will help you to follow the coding style prevalent in pandoc.
Your code should compile without warnings (
Run the tests to make sure your code does not introduce new bugs. (See below under Tests.) All tests should pass.
It is a good idea to add test cases for the bug you are fixing. (See below under Tests.) If you are adding a new writer or reader, you must include tests.
If you are adding a new feature, include updates to
All code must be released under the general license governing pandoc (GPL v2).
It is better not to introduce new dependencies. Dependencies on external C libraries should especially be avoided.
We aim for compatibility with ghc versions from 8.0 to the latest release. All pull requests and commits are tested automatically on GitHub Actions.
Tests can be run as follows:
cabal install --only-dependencies --enable-tests cabal configure --enable-tests cabal build cabal test
or, if you’re using stack,
stack setup stack test
The test program is
To run particular tests (pattern-matching on their names), use the
cabal install pandoc --enable-tests cabal test --test-options='-p markdown'
Or with stack:
stack test --test-arguments='-p markdown'
It is often helpful to add
-j4 (run tests in parallel) and
--hide-successes (don’t clutter
output with successes) to the test arguments as well. Collecting all
options in a
cabal.project.local file in the
project’s root directory can help to keep
cabal commands short. E.g.:
flags: +embed_data_files tests: True test-show-details: direct test-options: -j4 --hide-successes
If you add a new feature to pandoc, please add tests as well,
following the pattern of the existing tests. The test suite code is in
test/test-pandoc.hs. If you are
adding a new reader or writer, it is probably easiest to add some data
files to the
Otherwise, it is better to modify the module under the
test/Tests hierarchy corresponding to
the pandoc module you are changing. Alternatively, you may add a
“command test” to the
/test/command/ hierarchy, following
the pattern of the tests there. These test files should have a
meaningful name, which can include the issue number and/or the feature
that’s being tested. For example,
5474-tables.md refers to both issue
You can rebuild the golden tests in
tests/ by passing
--accept to the test script. (If
you’re using stack,
--test-arguments "--accept"; or
make TESTARGS=--accept). Then check
the changed golden files for accuracy, and commit the changes. For docx
or pptx tests, open the files in Word or Powerpoint to ensure that they
weren’t corrupted and that they had the expected result, and mention the
Word/Powerpoint version and OS in your commit comment.
Pandoc uses hlint to identify
opportunities for code improvements like redundant brackets or
extensions. However, sometimes there are cases where there are good
reasons to use code different from what hlint proposes. In these cases,
the respective warning should be disabled in the file
There should be no errors when running
hlint .; this is checked by the
continuous integration (CI) setup. It is recommended that contributors
check their code with a local hlint installation, but relying on the CI
is fine, too.
A good way to ensure no new warnings are introduced is to use a Git pre-commit hook which runs hlint on all updated Haskell files before creating a commit:
#!/bin/sh git diff --diff-filter=MA --cached --name-only | grep '\.hs$' | \ xargs hlint --hint .hlint.yaml
(If you are using GNU
-r option immediately
Saving this to
.git/hooks/pre-commit, and making the
script executable, will prevent accidental introduction of potentially
To run benchmarks with cabal:
cabal configure --enable-benchmarks cabal build cabal bench
Using the REPL
With a recent version of cabal, you can do
cabal repl and get a ghci REPL for
working with pandoc. With stack, use
We recommend using the following
.ghci file (which can be placed in
the source directory):
:set -fobject-code :set -XTypeSynonymInstances :set -XScopedTypeVariables :set -XOverloadedStrings
To diagnose a performance issue with parsing, first try using the
--trace option. This will give
you a record of when block parsers succeed, so you can spot backtracking
To use the GHC profiler with cabal:
cabal clean cabal install --enable-library-profiling --enable-executable-profiling pandoc +RTS -p -RTS [file]... less pandoc.prof
stack clean stack install --profile pandoc +RTS -p -RTS [file]... less pandoc.prof
The default templates live in
data/templates, which is a git
subtree linked to https://github.com/jgm/pandoc-templates.git. The purpose
of maintaining a separate repository is to allow people to maintain
variant templates as a fork.
You can modify the templates and submit patches without worrying much about this: when these patches are merged, we will push them to the main templates repository by doing
git subtree push --prefix=data/templates templates master
templates is a remote
pointing to the templates repository.
Pandoc has a publicly accessible git repository on GitHub: https://github.com/jgm/pandoc. To get a local copy of the source:
git clone https://github.com/jgm/pandoc.git
The source for the main pandoc program is
pandoc.hs. The source for the pandoc
library is in
src/, the source
for the tests is in
the source for the benchmarks is in
Text.Pandoc.Generic are in a separate
pandoc-types. The code
can be found in https://github.com/jgm/pandoc-types.
To build pandoc, you will need a working installation of the Haskell platform.
The library is structured as follows:
Text.Pandocis a top-level module that exports what is needed by most users of the library. Any patches that add new readers or writers will need to make changes here, too.
pandoc-types) defines the types used for representing a pandoc document.
pandoc-types) provides functions for building pandoc documents programmatically.
pandoc-types) provides functions allowing you to promote functions that operate on parts of pandoc documents to functions that operate on whole pandoc documents, walking the tree automatically.
Text.Pandoc.Readers.*are the readers, and
Text.Pandoc.Writers.*are the writers.
Text.Pandoc.Citeproc.*contain the code for citation handling, including an interface to the citeproc library.
Text.Pandoc.Datais used to embed data files when the
embed_data_filescabal flag is used.
Text.Pandoc.Emojiis a thin wrapper around emojis.
Text.Pandoc.Highlightingcontains the interface to the skylighting library, which is used for code syntax highlighting.
Text.Pandoc.ImageSizeis a utility module containing functions for calculating image sizes from the contents of image files.
Text.Pandoc.MIMEcontains functions for associating MIME types with extensions.
Text.Pandoc.Optionsdefines reader and writer options.
Text.Pandoc.PDFcontains functions for producing a PDF from a LaTeX source.
Text.Pandoc.Parsingcontains parsing functions used in multiple readers. the needs of pandoc.
Text.Pandoc.Sharedis a grab-bag of shared utility functions.
Text.Pandoc.Writers.Sharedcontains utilities used in writers only.
Text.Pandoc.Slidescontains functions for splitting a markdown document into slides, using the conventions described in the MANUAL.
Text.Pandoc.Templatesdefines pandoc’s templating system.
Text.Pandoc.UTF8contains functions for converting text to and from UTF8 bytestrings (strict and lazy).
Text.Pandoc.Asciifycontains functions to derive ascii versions of identifiers that use accented characters.
Text.Pandoc.UUIDcontains functions for generating UUIDs.
Text.Pandoc.XMLcontains functions for formatting XML.