Asciidoctor Reducer is a tool that reduces an AsciiDoc document containing include directives to a single AsciiDoc document by expanding the includes reachable from the parent document. Additionally, the tool evaluates preprocessor conditionals (unless the option to preserve them is enabled), only keeping those lines from conditions which are true. If the document does not contain any preprocessor directives, the tool returns the unmodified source.


Asciidoctor Reducer is a Ruby application that you install using Ruby packaging. To install and run Asciidoctor Reducer, you need Ruby 2.7 or better.

Run the following command to check which version of Ruby you have installed, if any:

$ ruby -v

If Ruby is not installed, you can install it using RVM (or, if you prefer, the package manager for your system). We generally recommend using RVM as it allows you to install gems without requiring elevated privileges or messing with system libraries.


Asciidoctor Reducer is published to as the gem named asciidoctor-reducer.

You can install the latest version of the gem using the following command:

$ gem install asciidoctor-reducer

Installing this gem makes the asciidoctor-reducer command available on your $PATH. You can also require the gem into the Ruby runtime to use it as a library or Asciidoctor extension.


If you prefer to manage the application as a project-scoped dependency, you can declare the gem in the project’s Gemfile:

source ''

gem 'asciidoctor-reducer'

You then install the gem using the bundle command:

$ bundle --path=.bundle/gems

Installing the gem this way makes the bundle exec asciidoctor-reducer command available on your $PATH.



You can run this tool using the provided command (i.e., CLI), named asciidoctor-reducer. To learn how to use the command, and to verify it’s available, run the command with the -h option:

$ asciidoctor-reducer -h

On the first line of the help text, you’ll see a synopsis of the command:

asciidoctor-reducer [OPTION]... FILE

The argument FILE is the AsciiDoc file you want to reduce. The options, represented by [OPTION]..., are optional, as the name suggestions.

Thus, to use the command, pass the AsciiDoc file as the sole argument:

$ asciidoctor-reducer input.adoc

If you only want AsciiDoctor Reducer to process include directives, leaving preprocessor conditional directives untouched, add the --preserve-conditionals option:

$ asciidoctor-reducer --preserve-conditionals input.adoc

By default, the command will output the reduced AsciiDoc document to the terminal (via stdout). To write the output to a file, specify an output file using the -o option:

$ asciidoctor-reducer -o output.adoc input.adoc

The command can also read the input document from stdin instead of a file. To use the command in this way, pass - as the first argument:

$ cat input.adoc | asciidoctor-reducer -

To write the output to a file in this case, specify an output file using the -o option:

$ cat input.adoc | asciidoctor-reducer -o output.adoc -


You can also use this tool from a Ruby application using the provided API. To begin, require the API for this library.

require 'asciidoctor/reducer/api'

Next, reduce a parent document that contains includes. This works without having to specify the safe mode since the default safe mode when using the API is :safe.

doc = Asciidoctor::Reducer.reduce_file 'sample.adoc'

Finally, you can retrieve the reduced source from the returned document.

puts doc.source

The benefit of this approach is that you can access the reduced source and the parsed document that corresponds to it.

If you don’t need the parsed document, you can retrieve the reduced source directly by passing the String type to the :to option:

puts Asciidoctor::Reducer.reduce_file 'sample.adoc', to: String

You can write the reduced source directly to a file by passing a file path to the :to option:

Asciidoctor::Reducer.reduce_file 'sample.adoc', to: 'sample-reduced.adoc'


Instead of using the API for this library, you can use the load API provided by Asciidoctor. If you want to register the extension globally, require the library as follows:

require 'asciidoctor/reducer'

When you use the Asciidoctor load API, the document will automatically be reduced.

puts (Asciidoctor.load_file 'sample.adoc', safe: :safe).source

If you want to keep the extension scoped to the call, require the library as follows:

require 'asciidoctor/reducer/extensions'

Next, use the extensions API to prepare an extension registry and pass it to the Asciidoctor load API:

puts (Asciidoctor.load_file 'sample.adoc', safe: :safe, extension_registry: Asciidoctor::Reducer.prepare_registry).source

Working with the extension directly is intended for low-level operations. Most of the time, you should use the API provided by this library.

How it Works

Asciidoctor Reducer uses a collection of Asciidoctor extensions to rebuild the AsciiDoc source as a single document. Top-level include files in the input AsciiDoc document are resolved relative to current working directory.

It starts by using a preprocessor extension to enhance the PreprocessorReader class to be notified each time an include is entered (pushed) or exited (popped). When an include directive is encountered, the enhanced reader stores the resolved lines and location of the include directive, thus keeping track of where those lines should be inserted in the original source. This information is stored as a stack, where each successive entry contains lines to be inserted into a parent entry. The enhanced reader also stores the location of preprocessor conditionals and whether the lines they enclose should be kept or dropped.

The reducer then uses a tree processor extension to fold the include stack into a single sequence of lines. It does so by working from the end of the stack and inserting the lines into the parent until the stack has been flattened. As it goes, it also removes lines that have been excluded by the preprocessor conditionals as well as the directive lines themselves (unless the option to preserve conditionals has been specified).

Finally, it loads the document again and returns it. The reduced source is available on the reconstructed document (via Document#source or Document#source_lines).

Impact on Extensions

If the sourcemap is enabled, and the reducer finds lines to replace or filter, the reducer will load the document again using Asciidoctor.load. This step is necessary to synchronize the sourcemap with the reduced source. This call will cause extensions that run during the load phase to be invoked again. An extension can check for this secondary load by checking for the :reduced option in the Document#options hash. If this option is set (the value of which will be true), then Asciidoctor is loading the reduced document.

Include Mapper (Experimental)

One of the challenges of reducing a document is that interdocument xrefs that rely on the includes being registered in the document catalog no longer work. That’s because when the reduced document is converted, it has no includes and thus all interdocument xrefs are colocated in the same source file. To work around this shortcoming, Asciidoctor Reducer provides a utility extension named the include mapper that will carry over the includes in the document catalog to the reduced document so they can be imported during conversion.

The include mapper is experimental and thus subject to change.

To use the include mapper when using the CLI to reduce the document, require it using the -r option as follows:

$ asciidoctor-reducer -r asciidoctor/reducer/include_mapper -o input-reduced.adoc input.adoc

To use the include mapper when converting the reduced document, again require it using the -r option as follows:

$ asciidoctor -r asciidoctor/reducer/include_mapper input-reduced.adoc

To use the include mapper when using the API, first require the extension:

require 'asciidoctor/reducer/include_mapper/extension'

You then need to register the extension when reducing the document:

Asciidoctor::Reducer.reduce_file 'sample.adoc', to: 'sample-reduced.adoc', extensions: proc {
  next if document.options[:reduced]
  tree_processor Asciidoctor::Reducer::IncludeMapper

Then register it again when converting the reduced document:

Asciidoctor.convert_file 'sample-reduced.adoc', safe: :safe, extensions: proc {
  tree_processor Asciidoctor::Reducer::IncludeMapper

You can also register the extension globally:

require 'asciidoctor/reducer/include_mapper'

In this case, you don’t have to pass it to the API explicitly.

How it Works

The include mapper works by adding a magic comment to the bottom of the reduced file. Here’s an example of that comment:

//# includes=chapters/chapter-a,chapters/chapter-b

When a document that contains the magic comment is converted, the include mapper reads the comma-separated paths in the value and loads them into the includes table of the document catalog.

Reduce files in a GitHub repository

It’s well known that the AsciiDoc preview on GitHub does not support the include directive. With the help of GitHub Actions, Asciidoctor Reducer is ready-made to solve this problem.

In order to set up this automated process, you need to first rename the source file to make room for the reduced file. Let’s call the source file README-source.adoc and the reduced file README.adoc.

Next, create a GitHub Actions workflow file named .github/workflows/reduce-readme.yml and populate it with the following contents:

name: Reduce README
    - README-source.adoc
    branches: ['**']
    runs-on: ubuntu-latest
    - name: Checkout Repository
      uses: actions/checkout@v3
    - name: Install Asciidoctor Reducer
      run: sudo gem install asciidoctor-reducer
    - name: Reduce README
      # to preserve preprocessor conditionals, add the --preserve-conditionals option
      run: asciidoctor-reducer -o README.adoc README-source.adoc
    - name: Commit and Push README
      uses: EndBug/add-and-commit@v9
        add: README.adoc

Now, each time you modify, commit, and push the README-source.adoc file, the GitHub Action workflow will run, reduce that file, and push the reduced file back to the repository as README.adoc.

If you want to trigger the workflow on changes to other files as well, add those paths or path patterns to the value of the paths key.


Follow the instructions below to learn how to help develop the project or test-drive the development version.

Retrieve the source code

Copy the GitHub repository URL and pass it to the git clone command:

$ git clone

Next, switch to the project directory:

$ cd asciidoctor-reducer

Install the dependencies

The dependencies needed to use Asciidoctor Reducer are defined in the Gemfile at the root of the project. You’ll use Bundler to install these dependencies.

Use the bundle command to install the project dependencies under the project directory:

$ bundle --path=.bundle/gems

You must invoke bundle from the project’s root directory so it can locate the Gemfile.

Run the tests

The test suite is located in the spec directory. The tests are based on RSpec.

Run all tests

You can run all of the tests using Rake:

$ bundle exec rake spec

For more fine-grained control, you can also run the tests directly using RSpec:

$ bundle exec rspec

To run all tests in a single spec, point RSpec at the spec file:

$ bundle exec rspec spec/reducer_spec.rb

Run specific tests

If you only want to run a single test, or a group of tests, you can do so by tagging the test cases, then filtering the test run using that tag.

Start by adding the only tag to one or more specifications:

it 'should do something new', only: true do
  expect(true).to be true

Next, run RSpec with the only flag enabled:

$ bundle exec rspec -t only

RSpec will only run the specifications that contain this flag.

You can also filter tests by keyword. Let’s assume we want to run all the tests that have leveloffset in the description. Run RSpec with the example filter:

$ bundle exec rspec -e leveloffset

RSpec will only run the specifications that have a description containing the text leveloffset.

Generate code coverage

To generate a code coverage report when running tests using simplecov, set the COVERAGE environment variable as follows when running the tests:

$ COVERAGE=deep bundle exec rake spec

You’ll see a total coverage score, a detailed coverage report, and a link to HTML report in the output. The HTML report helps you understand which lines and branches were missed, if any.

Run the development version

When running the asciidoctor-reducer command from source, you must prefix the command with bundle exec:

$ bundle exec asciidoctor-reducer sample.adoc

To avoid having to do this, or to make the asciidoctor-reducer command available from anywhere, you need to build the development gem and install it.

Copyright © 2021-present Dan Allen. Use of this software is granted under the terms of the MIT License.

See the LICENSE for the full license text.


AsciiDoc® and AsciiDoc Language™ are trademarks of the Eclipse Foundation, Inc.