Multiple Start Paths

On this page, you’ll learn:

  • How to use the start_paths key to specify multiple start paths for a branch of a single content source url.

  • What patterns the start_paths key supports for matching directories.

  • How to exclude directories matched by previous patterns.

start_paths key

The start_paths key allows you to specify multiple content source roots for a single reference of a repository. In other words, you can put multiple component versions, components, or distributed components—​each having its own antora.yml file—​in a single branch of a repository, then refer to all those content source roots using the same content source entry. When you organize content this way, this feature has the potential of drastically reducing the verbosity of the content sources in your playbook.

Relationship to the start_path key

The start_path key only lets you specify a single path in your playbook for a given content source. In contrast, the start_paths key lets you specify multiple paths. The multiple paths can be even further consolidated using wildcards, exclusions, braces, alternation, ranges, and repetition patterns. Antora will resolve the patterns to one or more fixed paths.

The start_paths key is mutually exclusive with the start_path key. If both the start_path and start_paths keys are present on a content source, only the start_paths key is used.

Relationship to git references

Like with the singular start path, the start paths are searched per git reference (i.e., branches, tags, and worktrees). That means a component version descriptor must be found at each start path for each reference.

Typically, when using multiple start paths, you’ll only be using a single reference anyway (e.g., main). If you do use multiple references in this scenario, the assumption is that each reference shares the same layout.

Use cases

Multiple start paths are designed primarily to accommodate two use cases:

  • Documentation that’s versioned using folders instead of branches.

  • Documentation for multiple products in a single repository branch (e.g., a monorepo).

Component versions as folders

You can use start_paths to store all versions of a component in a single repository branch using folders instead of using multiple branches. Although you may miss out on some advantages of the version control system, this arrangement can make it easier on writers who are frequently updating multiple versions of the documentation at once.

In this scenario, you’d provide a single value for the branches key and use the start_paths key to tell Antora which directories in the branch to use as content roots. If the version folders are named consistently, it becomes easy to match them using a pattern.

Here’s an example of a repository layout that uses folders to store documentation versions:

📒 repository
  📂 docs
    📂 v1.0
      📄 antora.yml
    📂 v1.1
      📄 antora.yml
    📂 v2.0
      📄 antora.yml

Components as folders

You can take it a step further and store all components in a single repository branch using folders instead of using multiple repositories. If those components have versions, you’d likely use subfolders to store the versions as well. This arrangement works best if all the documentation is maintained by the same team or individual and the distributed nature of git just gets in the way. It might also be used for a monorepo, in which the source code for multiple products is stored in the same repository. Antora can discover the documentation wherever it starts within that structure.

In this scenario, you’d again provide a single value for the branches key and use the start_paths key to tell Antora which directories in the branch to use as content roots. Only this time, the content source roots will match different components (and possibly versions), not just versions of a single component.

Here’s an example of a repository layout that uses folders to store components:

📒 repository
  📂 product-a
    📂 docs
      📄 antora.yml
  📂 product-b
    📂 docs
      📄 antora.yml
  📂 product-c
    📂 docs
      📄 antora.yml

Naturally, the repository may have many other files and folders that do not pertain to the documentation.

Exact paths

If you only have a couple of paths to register, you might find that using exact path patterns is suitable.

Example 1. antora-playbook.yml
  - url:
    start_paths: docs (1)
  - url:
    start_paths: docs, more-docs (2)
  - url:
    start_paths: [docs, more-docs] (3)
  - url:
    - docs (4)
    - more-docs
1 A single path (which is equivalent to using start_path).
2 A comma-separated list of exact path values.
3 An array on a single line, delimited by square brackets ([]).
4 An array on multiple lines, each delimited by a leading -.

Path globbing

Along with the methods described in Exact paths, you can use many (but not all) basic and advanced path globbing features to implement pattern matching. A diverse combination of wildcards, braces, and negated patterns are supported. Antora uses these glob patterns to resolve exact paths from which to read the content.

Globbing restrictions

The following restrictions apply to how Antora implements path globbing against the full range of supported basic and advanced globbing rules:

  • Wildcards in expressions only match directories, not files. For example, an expression like product-a/docs/*/index.adoc is not supported.

  • Brace expressions must have at least two entries, even if a wildcard is present. For example, docs/product-{a*,b} is recognized as a brace expression, but not docs/product-{a*}.

  • Single brace expressions that match multiple characters do not work when following a segment that contains a wildcard. For example, */v{0..99} matches the start path product-a/v2 but not product-a/v99. Instead, use a nested brace expression for each length permutation, such as */v{{1..9},{1..9}{0..9}}.

  • Double globstar patterns such as **/docs are not supported. A glob matches a single level in the hierarchy.


Wildcard matching reduces the number of values you need to assign to a start_paths key. For instance, if you have multiple components stored in a branch, you could list them all in a comma-separated list like the one shown in Example 2.

Example 2. antora-playbook.yml
  - url:
    branches: main
    start_paths: docs/product-a, docs/product-b, docs/product-c

Or, as shown in Example 3, you could use a wildcard segment and reduce the number of values you need to declare.

Example 3. antora-playbook.yml
  - url:
    branches: main
    start_paths: docs/product-*

Wildcard matching offers the possibility of registering new content source roots as you add them, providing you keep the pattern consistent.


Brace expressions can specify an explicit list of items separated by commas to expand (docs/product-{a,b,c,f}) or a range of items to expand (docs/product-{a..f}). A brace expression may not consist of only a single item, even if that item contains a wildcard (e.g., docs/product-{a} and docs/product-{a*} are not brace expressions).

Brace expressions may be nested (e.g., docs-*/v{{1..9},{1..9}{0..9} matches the subfolders v1 through v99 of root folders that match the name docs-*). In this case, each permutation for each nested brace expression is tested.

When you use braces in a start_paths value, all entries within the braces must exist when expanded (unless the segment is preceded by a wildcard segment).

If you specify docs/product-{a,b} as a start_paths value, the following paths must be present within the repository:

  • docs/product-a

  • docs/product-b

You can use a prefix in your file path before a brace expression to simplify what Antora checks for in the expression.

Example 4. antora-playbook.yml
  - url:
    branches: main
    start_paths: docs/v{1..9}

You can also use wildcards in brace expressions to help expand values.

Example 5. antora-playbook.yml
  - url:
    branches: main
    start_paths: docs/product-v{1*,2*}

The start_paths pattern in Example 5 would match the following paths:

  • docs/product-v1.1

  • docs/product-v1.2

  • docs/product-v1.2.1

  • docs/product-v2.0

  • docs/product-v2.1.1

Negated globs

Use negated patterns to exclude patterns previously matched. This approach is useful if you want to match all directories except for those that match a certain pattern.

Example 6. antora-playbook.yml
  - url:
    - docs/user/*
    - docs/dev/*
    - !**/*-beta.* (1)
1 Negated path globbing patterns must follow any path inclusions, and must be declared after locations that have already been matched.

Ignored directories

Hidden directories (i.e., directories that begin with .) are ignored by default. To include them in a start_paths path globbing pattern, use a .* in the pattern. For example, use docs/.*-{a,b} to include all hidden directories with the suffix of -a or -b.

Optional matches

A non-wildcard segment that follows a wildcard segment is considered optional. This exception is intended to simplify directory matching logic.

For example, docs/product-*/client would match product-a/client but disregard product-b if it does not contain a client folder.

Another valid example would be docs/product/*/client where the * represents different version directories (v1.0, v1.1, etc) of client documentation. If the client folder does not exist in one of the version directories, Antora ignores it from a validation perspective.

If the final segment of a file path pattern contains an unmatched brace pattern, Antora treats it as optional from a validation perspective.

For example, docs/product-*/{client,b2b} will not fail validation if docs/product-a/b2b is not present.