makedtx v0.94b : a Perl script to help create a DTX file from source code

Nicola Talbot

19th August 2007



The makedtx bundle is provided to help developers to write the code and documentation in separate files, and then combine them into a single DTX file for distribution. It automatically generates the character table, and also writes the associated installation (.ins) script.


Authors of LATEX2e class files or packages are encouraged to bundle their source and documentation together into a single DTX file. This makes distribution much easier, as users need only download the DTX file and possibly a corresponding installation script (INS file) instead of a multitude of .sty, .cls, .def etc files. However, having the documentation and code bundled together can cause problems if a developer wants to, say, use ispell to spell check the documentation, or convert the documentation to a format other than DVI, PostScript or PDF (such as HTML).

Why should I want to convert my documentation to HTML when I can just use PDFLaTeX? The more general purpose packages that I write (such as datetime and glossary) I upload to CTAN, however most of the packages I write are specific to the School of Computing Sciences at the University of East Anglia, so these I keep on my web site, and as some of the faculty either don't have a PDF plug in or prefer to view HTML rather than PDF documents, I have taken to writing both PDF and HTML versions of my package documentation. However, doesn't work on a .dtx file so I used to convert them manually which is fine for one or two small documents, but becomes rather cumbersome as soon as I have large documents or a lot of packages. Therefore I decided to write the documentation separately, and use a Perl script to bundle everything together. It also has the added convenience in that I don't have to keep copying and pasting the character table every time I write a new package, and it saves the laborious task of writing the installation script1.

This document is structured as follows: Section 2 describes how to install the makedtx bundle, Section 3 gives an overview of the Perl script, Section 4 describes the creatdtx package, Section 5 illustrates the use of the makedtx bundle with examples and Section 6 gives a list of possible errors and their solutions.


You need to download both makedtx.dtx and makedtx.ins, and run the installation script through LaTeX:

latex makedtx.ins

The following files will be created:
Perl script
LaTeX package for use with
Corresponding Perl script for use with LaTeX2HTML

If you are using UNIX/Linux etc you will need to make executable using chmod:

chmod a+x

and place it somewhere on your path. If perl is located somewhere other than /usr/bin/ you will need to edit the first line of (If you don't know where perl is located, you can use the command: which perl.) The package creatdtx.sty needs to be placed somewhere on the LaTeX path and creatdtx.perl should be placed in a directory searched by . (See the documentation for details.)

The Perl script has the following syntax: [options] -src "expr1=>expr2" -doc filename basename

Compulsory Arguments

The very last argument basename is the basename of the .dtx and .ins files you want to create. The -doc filename switch indicates the file containing the documentation and -src "expr1=>expr2" indicates the original source file(s), given by expr1, and the corresponding file name when it has been extracted from the .dtx file, given by expr2. This switch is a little complicated, so it's best described using examples.

Suppose you have your documentation in the file foodoc.tex, and the original source code is in the file foosrc.sty. You want to create the files foo.dtx and foo.ins. When you LaTeX foo.dtx you want the documentation as specified in foodoc.tex and when you LaTeX foo.ins you want the file foo.sty to be created, using the code specified in foosrc.sty. You will need to do: -src "foosrc\.sty=>foo.sty" -doc foodoc.tex foo

You may have multiple invocations of the -src switch. For example, suppose you also have the file barsrc.sty which you want to be extracted from the .dtx file as bar.sty, you can do: -src "foosrc\.sty=>foo.sty" -src "barsrc\.sty=>bar.sty" -doc foodoc.tex foo
Alternatively, you can use Perl-type regular expressions: -src "(.*)src\.sty=>\1.sty" -doc foodoc.tex foo
(Note the use of double quotes to prevent shell expansion.) Appendix A gives a brief overview of Perl regular expressions for the uninitiated.


-h or -help
Prints on-line help, and exits.

Prints version number, and exits.

Uses verbose mode.

-dir name
Specifies directory containing source files, as specified by the -src switch. For example, suppose you have source files foo.sty, bar.sty in the subdirectory sourcefiles you can do: -dir sourcefiles -src "(.*)\.sty=>\1.sty" -doc foodoc.tex foo

-op character
sets the Perl pattern matching operator (the default is set to = symbol since the / character is used as the directory divider).

uses \askforoverwritetrue in the installation script.

uses \askforoverwritefalse in the installation script (default).

Don't create the installation script (.ins file). This is useful if you want to tweak the file manually and you don't want your modifications overwritten.

-preamble text
Set the preamble to text. The default preamble is:

basename.dtx Copyright date author

This work may be distributed and/or modified under the conditions of the LaTeX Project Public License, either version 1.3 of this license of (at your option) any later version. The latest version of this license is in and version 1.3 or later is part of all distributions of LaTeX version 2005/12/01 or later.

This work has the LPPL maintenance status `maintained'.

The Current Maintainer of this work is author.

This work consists of the files basename.dtx and basename.ins and the derived files file list.

where date is the copyright date, and author is the author's name (see below).

Note that this has been changed as of makedtx v0.94. Older versions of makedtx do not conform to any of the free licenses.

-license name
This sets the preamble to the license text for the license name. Currently name may be either lppl (the default, which produces the default preamble detailed above), bsd or gpl. You may use either -license or -preamble, but not both. (If you have used the -preamble switch, the -license switch will be ignored.)

-postamble text
Set the postamble to text. If this is omitted the \postamble command is omitted from the installation script.

-author name
The author's name (as used in the default preamble). If omitted the user's name is used.

-date text
The copyright date (as used in the default preamble). If omitted the current year is used.

-stopeventually text
Insert text into the argument of \StopEventually. For example: -stopeventually "\\PrintIndex" will result in the line: \StopEventually{\PrintIndex}. If encounters a \StopEventually command within the document, this will be used instead. If there is no \StopEventually command in the document and the -stopeventually switch is absent \StopEventually{} will be inserted in the DTX file.

-prefinale text
Inset text immediately prior to \Finale in the dtx file.

-setambles "expr=>text"
Sets the pre- and postambles for files matching expr within the \file command in the installation script. To illustrate this, let's suppose you have source files foo.sty, bar.sty and in the subdirectory sourcefiles. Since foo.sty and bar.sty are LaTeX files, they should have pre- and postambles, but is a Perl file, and since the percent symbol (%) is not a comment character in Perl, there should be no pre- and postambles for this file. Therefore you would need to do something like: -dir sourcefiles -src "(.*)\.sty=>\1.sty" -src ">" 
-setambles "foobar\.pl=>\\nopreamble\\nopostamble" -doc foodoc.tex foo
(Note that the line is only broken to fit it onto the page, and there should be no line break when entering at the command prompt.)

If the argument to -setambles contains the string \\nopreamble, the character table will be excluded from the corresponding files. So, in the above example, when you do: latex foo.ins the resulting files foo.sty and bar.sty will contain the character table, but won't. (If for some reason you don't want a preamble but you do want the character table included use \\usepreamble\\empty instead of \\nopreamble. Conversely, if you want a preamble but don't want the character table do something like \\nopreamble\\usepreamble\\defaultpreamble.

Note that the =>text part is optional. If it is omitted, text is assumed to be empty.

-macrocode "expr"
If source file matches the Perl regular expression given by expr, the source code is inserted into a macrocode environment in the DTX file.

-comment "expr"
If the source file matches the Perl regular expression given by expr, the source code will be inserted between \iffalse \fi commands. The contents of this file will be included in the DTX file, but will be excluded from the documentation. Since this is provided mainly for non-TeX files (such as Perl scripts) the -comment switch will typically need to be used in conjunction with -macrocode.

-codetitle "title"
This sets the title for the code section. The default is The Code.

The creatdtx Package

The documentation source code, as specified using the -doc switch will typically be a standard LaTeX document using the ltxdoc class file. Unlike the DTX file, there is no \DocInput command, and the lines do not begin with a percent symbol, which means that the document can be, say, passed to the converter, or some other application that would otherwise be confused by a DTX file. The creatdtx package can be used in this document using

although this package will be not be included in the DTX file by There is only one command defined in this package:\ifmakedtx{dtx text}{non dtx text}. The first argument dtx text will be copied to the DTX file by, but the second argument non dtx text won't. However, if you LaTeX the document, the first argument will be ignored, and the second argument will be used.

For example, if your code (in foodoc.tex) contains the line:


the html package will only be loaded if you LaTeX foodoc.tex, but not when you LaTeX foo.dtx.

The Perl script creatdtx.perl ignores the following commands (and any associated arguments): \OnlyDescription, \RecordChanges, \MakeShortVerb, \DeleteShortVerb, \DoNotIndex, \EnableCrossrefs, \CodelineIndex, \GetFileInfo, \PrintChanges, \changes, \CheckSum, \DescribeMacro and \DescribeEnvironment. So even if you don't use the \ifmakedtx command, using the creatdtx package will help ensure that extraneous text does not appear in the HTML document when using .

As from version 0.93b, creatdtx.perl also defines the commands \cs, \marg, \oarg and \parg, since there is no implementation of the ltxdoc class file.


Let's first consider a very simple example. Suppose you want to create a package that redefines \today so that the date is displayed in the form: yyyy-m-d. Let's call this package dashdate. The file dashdate.sty should look something like:

 % First define package:
 %    \begin{macrocode}
 %    \end{macrocode}
 % Redefine |\today| command:
 %    \begin{macrocode}
 %    \end{macrocode}
Now let's make some (very brief) documentation. Let's call the file, say manual.tex2:

\title{A Sample Package}
\author{AN Other}

The \texttt{dashdate} package redefines |\today|
to produce the current date in the form: yyyy-m-d.
Suppose you have saved dashdate.sty and manual.tex in the subdirectory source. You can now create the .dtx and .ins file using the command: -author "AN Other" -dir source -src "dashdate\.sty=>dashdate.sty" 
-doc source/manual.tex dashdate
The file dashdate.dtx is created, and contains the following code:
 % dashdate.dtx generated using version 0.9b (c) Nicola Talbot
 % Command line args:
 %   -dir "source"
 %   -src "dashdate\.sty=>dashdate.sty"
 %   -author "AN Other"
 %   -doc "source/manual.tex"
 %   dashdate
 % Created on 2005/2/10 22:22
 %% \CharacterTable
 %%  {Upper-case    \A\B\C\D\E\F\G\H\I\J\K\L\M\N\O\P\Q\R\S\T\U\V\W\X\Y\Z
 %%   Lower-case    \a\b\c\d\e\f\g\h\i\j\k\l\m\n\o\p\q\r\s\t\u\v\w\x\y\z
 %%   Digits        \0\1\2\3\4\5\6\7\8\9
 %%   Exclamation   \!     Double quote  \"     Hash (number) \#
 %%   Dollar        \$     Percent       \%     Ampersand     \&
 %%   Acute accent  \'     Left paren    \(     Right paren   \)
 %%   Asterisk      \*     Plus          \+     Comma         \,
 %%   Minus         \-     Point         \.     Solidus       \/
 %%   Colon         \:     Semicolon     \;     Less than     \<
 %%   Equals        \=     Greater than  \>     Question mark \?
 %%   Commercial at \@     Left bracket  \[     Backslash     \\
 %%   Right bracket \]     Circumflex    \^     Underscore    \_
 %%   Grave accent  \`     Left brace    \{     Vertical bar  \|
 %%   Right brace   \}     Tilde         \~}
 % \iffalse
 % Doc-Source file to use with LaTeX2e
 % Copyright (C) 2005 AN Other, all rights reserved.
 % \fi
 % \iffalse

 %\title{A Sample Package}
 %\author{AN Other}
 %The \texttt{dashdate} package redefines "\today"
 %to produce the current date in the form: yyyy-m-d.
 %\section{The Code}
 %    \begin{macrocode}
 %    \end{macrocode}
 % First define package:
 %    \begin{macrocode}
 %    \end{macrocode}
 % Redefine |\today| command:
 %    \begin{macrocode}
 %    \end{macrocode}
 %    \begin{macrocode}
 %    \end{macrocode}
The installation file dashdate.ins looks like:
 % dashdate.ins generated using version 0.94b 2007/8/19 22:22
 \input docstrip

 Copyright 2007 AN Other

 This work may be distributed and/or modified under the
 conditions of the LaTeX Project Public License, either version 1.3
 of this license of (at your option) any later version.
 The latest version of this license is in
 and version 1.3 or later is part of all distributions of LaTeX
 version 2005/12/01 or later.

 This work has the LPPL maintenance status `maintained'.

 The Current Maintainer of this work is AN Other.

 This work consists of the files dashdate.dtx and
 dashdate.ins and the derived file dashdate.sty.



Note that the command \usepackage{creatdtx} has not been transcribed to dashdate.dtx (although in this simple example it's not really needed).

Now let's extend the example: suppose you want to create an analogous Perl script for use with . This will need to be called dashdate.perl and will look something like:

package main;

sub do_cmd_today{
   local($_) = @_;
   local($today) = &get_date();
   $today =~ s|(\d+)/(\d+)/(\d+)|$3-$1-$2|;

You will now need to call as follows: -author "AN Other" -dir source -src "dashdate\.sty=>dashdate.sty" 
-src "dashdate\.perl=>dashdate.perl" 
-setambles "dashdate\.perl=>\\nopreamble\\nopostamble" 
-macrocode "dashdate\.perl" -doc source/manual.tex dashdate
(Note that the line is only broken to allow it to fit onto the page, there should be no line break when you enter it on the command line.) Alternatively, you could save typing and do: -author "AN Other" -dir source -src "dashdate\.(.*)=>dashdate.\1"
-setambles "dashdate\.perl=>\\nopreamble\\nopostamble" -macrocode "dashdate\.perl"
-doc source/manual.tex dashdate
Note the use of the -setambles switch which suppresses the insertion of text at the start and end of the Perl script which would only confuse Perl. Note also the use of the -macrocode switch. This is not needed for dashdate.sty since it has already been included in the source code, but since % is not a comment character in Perl, the macrocode environment is not included in the source code, and needs to be added. (If you are unfamiliar with DocStrip and the use of the macrocode environment, I suggest you read either A guide to LaTeX [2, Appendix D] or The LaTeX companion [1, Chapter 14].)

It's likely that you may not want the Perl code to appear in the document, but you still want it included in the DTX file. In addition to the -macrocode switch, you would then also need to use the -comment switch: -author "AN Other" -dir source -src "dashdate\.(.*)=>dashdate.\1"
-setambles "dashdate\.perl=>\\nopreamble\\nopostamble" -macrocode "dashdate\.perl"
-comment "dashdate\.perl" -doc source/manual.tex dashdate

As another example, consider the datetime package. Version 2.42 of this package has 2 .sty files and 42 .def files. The documentation is written in the file manual.tex, and the .sty and .def files are saved in a subdirectory called source. Since these are the only files in this directory, they can easily be merged into one .dtx file using: -author "Nicola Talbot" -dir source -src "(.+)\.(.+)=>\1.\2" 
-doc manual.tex datetime
This creates the files datetime.dtx and datetime.ins which can then be distributed. The PDF version of the documentation is obtained by doing:
pdflatex datetime.dtx
and the HTML version (manual.html) is obtained by doing:
latex2html -split 0 -nonavigation -nofootnode -numbered_footnotes -noinfo manual
Any minor differences between the HTML and PDF versions are dealt by using \ifmakedtx in the original file manual.tex.


The makedtx bundle has only been tested under Linux using Perl v5.6.0. There are no guarantees whether or not it will work on other operating systems or on different versions (in fact, there are no guarantees or warranties at all).

Known Bugs

It's possible to confuse by placing either the command \end{document} or the command \ifmakedtx in a \verb command, or by having the \ifmakedtx command on the same line as \begin{document}. You will also need to take care about lines beginning with a percent symbol (%) in the documentation, as this will get converted into a line beginning with %% in the .dtx file, which has a special meaning. Either place a space immediately prior the percent symbol, or do \relax% if you really don't want the extra space (or place your comment in an \iffalse ... \fi conditional).

Possible errors encountered using

Note: be careful to use double quotes around arguments that contain characters that the shell might try interpreting, e.g. * or >.

Syntax error messages:

  1. No document source specified (missing -doc)

    You must use the -doc switch.

  2. No source code specified (missing -src)

    You must specify at least one -src switch.

  3. No basename specified

    You must specify the basename of the .dtx and .ins files. This should be the last argument passed to

  4. -src ... argument invalid (no output file specified)

    You have omitted the => separator in the argument of the -src switch.

  5. -src argument ... invalid (too many => specified)

    You have used too many => separators in the argument of the -src switch. (Similarly for the -setambles switch.)

Perl Regular Expressions

This section gives a very brief overview of Perl regular expressions. For more detail, look at the Perl documentation (use man perlre for the man page.)

\ Quote the next character
. Match any character
| Alternation
() Grouping
[] Character class
* Match 0 or more times
+ Match 1 or more times
? Match 1 or 0 times
{n} Match exactly n times
{n,} Match at least n times
{n,m} Match at least n but no more than m times.

In the replacement text, a backslash followed by a number n indicates the text from the nth group.

For example, suppose you have the following files:

then if you pass the following switch to


The LaTeX companion. Michel Goossens, Frank Mittelbach and Alexander Samarin. Addison-Wesley 1993.

A guide to LaTeX. Helmut Kopka and Patrick W. Daly. Addison-Wesley 1998.


... script1
or at least, it's laborious if there are rather a lot of files associated with a package
Note: if you want to use on this document, you will need to use, e.g., \verb!\today! instead of |\today| since it doesn't recognise \MakeShortVerb.

Nicola L. C. Talbot. School of Computing Sciences. University of East Anglia. Last Modified: 2007-08-19