For most books, the default outputs (print-pdf, screen-pdf, web, epub, app) are sufficient. You only need one version of each of those. But sometimes you need a variation on one or more of these. For instance, you might be producing two versions of a printed book with different designs (e.g. for schools and for trade) with different selections of chapters. Or you may be white-labelling a website, and need to output various versions with different colours or logos. Variants make that possible.

Activating a variant

To activate a variant, put its name as the active-variant in settings.yml. Make sure you deactivate it, for instance by commenting it out, to get your default output back.

Note that an active variant applies to your entire project, not to a specific book. Then each book can have its own metadata, content and styles for a given project-wide variant.

Variants in markdown

If you only want certain content to display in a specific variant, wrap that content in a if variant tag. For example:

{% if variant == "myvariant" %}
This content will only output when the active-variant is `myvariant`.
{% endif %}

For the variant tag to work, you must include the page’s metadata at the start of the markdown document. After the top-of-page YAML (the ---s), add:

{% include metadata %}

Variant stylesheets

You can create new stylesheets in addition to our standard ones, and specify these in _data/settings.yml file, like this:

  - variant: myvariant
    print-pdf-stylesheet: "print-pdf-myvariant.css"
    web-stylesheet: "web-myvariant.css"
  - variant: anothervariant
    app-variant-stylesheet: "app-anothervariant.css"

You can list as many variants as you like in this way. The one that applies is the one set as the active-variant (see above). If no active-variant is set, then none of the variant stylesheets will apply on output.

Variant metadata

Sometimes a variant has different metadata to its parent (such as a different subtitle or author), or contains different files.

You can define variant-specific metadata in a book’s _data folder.

  1. Create a new YAML file alongside the book’s default.yml file. Name that new file after the variant, with a .yml extension. E.g. myvariant.yml.
  2. In that new YAML file, define the variant’s metadata as you would in default.yml. You only need to add fields for things that are different from default.yml. For example, if the only thing that changes is the subtitle, your variant YAML file will only contain one line, e.g. subtitle: "The Jabberwocky Returns".

Variant metadata fallbacks

If you are rendering a variant with translations, and you do not set a value in the translation variant YAML file, it will fall back to that language’s default.yml. It will not fall back to the parent language’s variant YAML.

For example:

When rendered, the translation variant subtitle will be Pommes de terre, and not Tomatoes.

Variant tables of contents

Since tables of contents defined in YAML can be long and complex, it can be a hassle to redefine an entire TOC in a variant’s YAML file just for one or two differences.

So, for TOCs, you can also change the TOC output for a variant by adding the names of the variants in which a TOC item should appear to the main book’s TOC items nodes as variants. That node in the TOC will only appear when you output one of the listed variants. For example, this node will only appear in variants named school and varsity:

  label: "Study tips"
  file: "05-study-tips"
  variants: school, varsity

‘Study tips’ will not appear in default output.

If you want a TOC item to appear in both default outputs and specific variants, add default to the variants list here. E.g.

  label: "Study tips"
  file: "05-study-tips"
  variants: default, school, varsity

Now, in this example, ‘Study tips’ will appear in default outputs and the ‘school’ and ‘varsity’ variants, but not, say, the ‘professional’ variant (if you had such a variant in your project).