RedPen v.1.3 Released

We released RedPen version 1.3 a few days ago. RedPen 1.3 is available from the releases page. If you are using a Mac, you can install the latest version via Homebrew ($brew install redpen).

This article introduces the three features added to RedPen version 1.3 (AsciiDoc support, server commands, and Javascript-based extensions).

Support for AsciiDoc format

Ever since RedPen was released, I have received requests asking for AsciiDoc support.
AsciiDoc is a markup language just like Markdown, LaTeX, and others. I was satisfied with Markdown at the time of RedPen’s initial release, so I did not fully understand why there was so much demand for a markup language with similar syntax to Markdown. Below, I will touch on the benefits of AsciiDoc.

Are there shortcomings in Markdown?

Recently, I worked on a job where I was writing a long and formal document. At first, I tried to write the document in Markdown, but it just did not go as I had intended. It was then that I started pulling my hair out over the fact that the Markdown format’s expressive capacity was lacking. For example, links to clauses and segmenting of source files are necessary when writing documents with a certain degree of content, yet such features are not (formally) supported in Markdown.

The benefits of AsciiDoc

While AsciiDoc has a light syntax similar to Markdown, it is rich in features. I feel like it has all the necessary features in place to write formal and content-rich documents. Using a tool called AsciiDoctor also makes it easy to convert documents to PDF and change document styles to influence the presentation of the document. For those of you who need to write formal documents, it might be worth your while to consider using AsciiDoc once.

Server Inclusion

The RedPen server was introduced from version 1.0, and since has been extended from time to time. In version 1.2, the REST API was strengthened, providing functionality closer to that of the command line.

The advantage of using RedPen via the REST API is the high-speed response. After executing a redpen command, it takes time for the server to boot up. On the other hand, constantly running servers can return the results of an inspection immediately.

I received requests asking to be able to shutdown the server from the command line along with the feature improvements. To date, another file called redpen.war was required to be downloaded, but in version 1.3, all of the server files (redpen.war) are included in the package (redpen-1.3.tar.gz)

I also provided a simple redpen-server command in RedPen version 1.3. To start the server, just run the following command:

$redpen-server start

Similarly, shutting down the server can be done simply as follows:

$redpen-server start

Unfortunately, however, the command is not supported on Windows. I plan to add Windows support on the next version upgrade.

Extensions up to 1.2

One of RedPen’s distinguishing features is its extensibility. RedPen does all of the cumbersome processing automatically, such as extracting sentences and clauses from markup languages. As such, when a user wants to extend features on their own, all they have to do is write the processing to be done on a sentence. Plug-in features are also supported, so users do not have to build RedPen in its entirety.

However, what I discovered when developing was that, unfortunately, the current-state of plug-ins leaves something lacking. What I mean is that, to create a Java-based plug-in, only people with a certain degree of familiarity with Java would be capable of creating such a plug-in.
It also needs to be compiled and it cannot be easily tried…

Support for Javascript extensions.

Therefore, Javascript-based extensions are supported starting from version 1.3. With extensions based in Javascript, users have no need to compile. Just put the Javascript file for the extension(s) in $REDPEN_HOME/js. I plan to introduce more detailed instructions separately.

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RedPen v.1.3 Released