Simple AsciiDoc Build with Gradle

2 minute read

So I told you to use AsciiDoc to write technical documents because of all the great features.

Today I want to show you how to unleash the power and get started.

Gradle Integration

Let’s first start with Gradle. I like Gradle much because it is modern and avoids unwanted complexity. But I am far from being a Gradle expert. Everytime I need a feature, I have to google it. I guess that’s ok, since I want to code and document and not spend too much time with the build system :-)

So let’s get started. If you don’t have already Gradle installed on your machine, you should give SDKMan a try. It manages the installation, upgrade and switch between versions of not only Gradle but all the tools a java developer needs - all but the JDK :-(. If you are on a Windows machine like me, you have to use posh-GVM instead of SDKMan. It’s a bit harder to install but will yield the same results - as long as you use the powershell :-)

Let’s first create a fresh working dir

mkdir docToolchain
cd docToolchain

and init Git and Gradle

gradle init
git init

This created a simple build.gradle file and also added gradlew the Gradle-wrapper. It’s a best-practice-thing. The Gradle-wrapper makes sure that everybody who checks out the project will be able to just build your project. Only the proxy has to be configured - Gradle will be automatically installed. To use the wrapper type gradlew instead of gradle.

The build.gradle file might be a good starting point for a normal project, but in this case, I just replace it with the following one:

plugins {
  id "org.asciidoctor.convert" version "1.5.3"

That’s it. It’s basically all we need to convert our first asciidoc file. (If you wonder about the notation - it’s the new way to reference plugins which works from Gradle v2.1 on.)

To get a slightly more challenging document than a simple "Hello World", let’s copy the one provided by @mojavelinux as gist. Just put the three files include.asciidoc.txt and test.asciidoc.txt in the project’s subfolder /src/docs/asciidoc and tiger.png into /src/docs/asciidoc/images . In order to make it work, remove the .txt extension of the two files and also in the test.asciidoc file on line 141.

The test.asciidoc file is configured to use an external style sheet which is missing in our setup. So to use the internal stylesheet, change the beginning of the file to the following:

//:stylesheet: asciidoc.css
:imagesdir: images
//:backend: docbook45
:backend: html5

The reference to the external style sheet is /src/docs/asciidoc is the standard location where the plugin searches for asciidoc files. It will convert all files it finds.

We are now ready to create our first HTML document from the example files. Just run

gradle asciidoctor

from the command line and check out the result in /build/asciidoc/html5/test.html

The result should look like this:



If you’ve followd all the steps above, you’ve just created your first asciidoc project to write technical documentation!

You are not ready to unleash the power of asciidoc…​

PS: the docToolchain project greated above is available on github: