Use Author Mode

  • How to activate author mode.

Although the primary function of Antora is to generate a site for publishing, it also serves as a tool for the author. By configuring Antora to use a local repository, you can preview local content, including content you haven’t committed.

Activate author mode

Author mode is activated when you configure the playbook to use a local clone for one or more of the content repositories. Antora will use the repository as it is on your local machine instead of cloning it from its remote location. This scenario assumes you’ve already cloned a repository and want to incorporate it into the site generation.

To begin, create a folder named workspace in your project.

$ mkdir workspace

Switch to the newly created directory and clone one of the repositories:

$ git clone workspace/server-docs

Next, make a copy of your playbook file for local use. In the example below, antora-playbook.yml is copied and the new file is named local-antora-playbook.yml.

$ cp antora-playbook.yml local-antora-playbook.yml

Next, open your new playbook file and configure it to use the cloned repository instead of the remote repository. You can specify the repository either as a path relative to the playbook file or as an absolute path.

Example 1. local-antora-playbook.yml
  - url: ./workspace/server-docs
    branches: HEAD (1)
1 In author mode, you usually want to use the currently checked out HEAD of the local repository

Build your Antora site using the new playbook file.

$ antora local-antora-playbook.yml

The contents of your local repository will be incorporated into the pipeline.

If your workspace directory is inside of your playbook repository, it is best to add it to your .gitignore file so as not to push it to the remote.

Use multiple worktrees

In the previous section, you learned how to configure Antora to use a local repository with a single worktree. If your repository only has a single content branch, this setup works great. However, once you start working with multiple branches, using a single worktree is not ideal. It means having to switch branches each time you need to read or update files in a different component version, making shuffling files between versions very difficult. That’s where multiple worktrees comes into play.

A local git repository can support multiple worktrees. The location of the local repository still acts as the main worktree. Using the git worktree command, you can associate additional worktrees with the repository, each mapped to a discrete branch. The new worktree is called a linked worktree. It lives in a directory that’s separate from the main worktree. That means you can effectively have more than one branch checked out at a time for a single repository.

Antora recognizes linked worktrees attached to a local content source, provided you have enabled this feature, and will use them if they match one of the branch patterns specified in the playbook. To enable this feature, add worktrees: true to the entry for the content source in the Antora playbook.

Follow these steps to set up a local content source with multiple worktrees:

  1. Clone the playbook repository.

  2. In the folder that git creates for the clone, make a folder named workspace.

  3. Switch to the workspace folder and make another folder to hold the worktrees for your content repository (e.g., workspace/software-with-docs) (Note that this is not a git repository).

  4. Switch to that folder.

  5. Clone the content repository to the folder main (or whatever your default branch is) (e.g., git clone main)

  6. Switch to that folder.

  7. Now create a worktree for each branch you want to edit using git worktree. For example: git worktree add ../6.0 6.0. The first argument to git worktree add is the location of the worktree and the second is the name of the branch. Typically, you’ll name the worktree folder using the name of the branch.

  8. Now return to the playbook repository (where antora-playbook.yml is located) and open the author playbook named local-antora-playbook.yml as described in the previous section, creating it if necessary.

  9. In your playbook file, change the URL for the content repository to point to the cloned repository inside the workspace (e.g., ./workspace/software-with-docs/main). You have to point Antora to the main worktree, not one of the linked worktrees.

  10. In that same content source entry, enable the worktrees feature by adding worktrees: true.

Repeat steps 3-10 for each content repository you want to work with.

Now when Antora scans for branches, it will automatically discover the worktrees you have linked and read the files from it (instead of reading them from the git tree). With this setup, you can use the playbook repository as your home base and organize all your content repositories and branches underneath it for authoring.

You could create a script in the playbook repository to automate the process of setting up this authoring environment.

To learn more about git worktrees and how to use them, refer to the git-worktree page in the git documentation.

Author mode order of operations

You may be wondering what branches the generator selects when the repository is local and whether it will pick up your uncommitted changes. Here’s how a local repository is handled:

  • The repository contents on your local machine are used instead of the contents from its remote storage location.

  • The local repository is not updated from its remote storage location; Antora assumes the author will manage the repository (explicitly calling git fetch or git pull on the repository as needed).

Here’s how the branches are selected in author mode:

  • Both local branches and remote branches associated with the remote url are considered.

  • If a local branch has the same name as a remote branch, the local branch is chosen.

  • The contents of the worktree get used in place of the files from the current branch. Aside from its name, the current branch is effectively ignored.

  • The current branch of your worktree must match the branches filter configured on the url entry. If not, the working tree will be ignored. You can use the reserved HEAD value to ensure the current working tree is always used.

If you want to use multiple worktrees, simply clone the repository multiple times and configure multiple entries in the playbook. You can use the branches key to filter out the names of branches you don’t want.