eWorld.UI - Matt Hawley

Ramblings of Matt

Extending WikiPlex with Custom Macros

July 24, 2009 18:47 by matthaw

One of the very nice features of WikiPlex is the ability to extend it to your hearts desire. The API is completely open, and the entry points off of WikiEngine are merely wrappers. This means that, if you really wanted to, you could create your own parser and formatter - but the majority of extending WikiPlex will be done via macros and renderers. A summary of the extension points include:

  1. Macros encapsulate rules for matching segments of content.
  2. Macro rules are regular expressions that map matches to scopes.
  3. Scopes are contextual identifiers.
  4. Renderers take scopes and expand them into a HTML formatted representation of the macro.

We would like to integrate WikiPlex into an existing application. The idea is to allow a user contributed area specifically for wiki content. The user should be allowed to use all out-of-the-box macros provided, but also have the ability to have inter-wiki links with the format of [Title of Page]. As you probably realized, there is currently no macro/renderer that will take that content and turn it into a inter-wiki link, so we'll have to extend WikiPlex adding this functionality.


Create a Macro

When creating a macro, you're going to have to dust off that copy of RegexBuddy you probably don't have installed anymore. Why? Well, as previously stated, macro rules are regular expressions - and unless you're a regex guru, you won't be able to do this ad-hoc without a great tool. Let's get started - so in your solution, create a class called TitleLinkMacro, and extend it from WikiPlex.Compilation.Macros.IMacro. You'll then implement the members it requires (Id and Rules). The Id value is simply a string that is used as a key for static macro registration and macro compilation, so it should be unique (rule of thumb, give it the name of your class but with spaces). Now, it's time to define your macro rules.


As you may have noticed, I kept "rule" plural. The reason, is that the majority of macros you will create need to have an initial "escaped" rule. This rule basically stops the regex from matching within code blocks, between curly braces, and possibly between square brackets. Since our macro utilizes square brackets, we'll use the escape rule of CurlyBraceEscape.


Next, you'll define your regex (with extreme caution!) utilizing capturing groups to identify scopes. If you take a look at the code, you may not think that the scope identification is zero based - don't be fooled, it really is! Identifying an index 0 scope indicates the full match for that rule. When creating your capturing groups, you can have any number, allowing for fine granularity when rendering. So, let's take a look at the sample project's macro's rules.

public IList<MacroRule> {
   get {
      return new List<MacroRule> {
         new MacroRule(EscapeRegexPatterns.CurlyBraceEscape),
         new MacroRule(@"(?i)(\[)(?!\#|[a-z]+:)((?>[^\]]+))(\])",
                 new Dictionary<int, string> {
                    { 1, ScopeName.Remove },
                    { 2, WikiScopeName.WikiLink },
                    { 3, ScopeName.Remove }

As you can see, the regular expression is indicating that I should match 3 scopes per overall match. The scope "Remove" does just that. It removes the captured content when rendering. The WikiLink scope name is one that was created specifically for the sample. For the non-regex savvy developer, the regex reads:

  1. Use case insensitive matching from this point on
  2. Match the character "["
  3. Match any character until "]" is found
    1. But do not match if the character is preceded
      1. by the "#" character
      2. or by any character between a-z, one or more times, followed by a ":" character
  4. Match the character "]"

Our scope to step matching then is

  1. Remove "["
  2. WikiLink any content
  3. Remove "]"

Defining macro rules is a fairly straight forward process, just keep in mind that the order of the macro rules is important! You should also realize that if you wish to allow nesting of rules (for example, italicize bolded text) the italics and bold macro rules cannot be apart of the same macro. This, again, is because the macro rules are combined to build a large regular expression - and each rule is treated as an "or" statement.


Registering a Macro

After you have created your macro, you need to register it with WikiPlex. You have two ways of doing this - statically and dynamically. When statically registering macros, you simply need to have the following code in your application startup method


When you call the WikiEngine.Render("content"), it will automatically pick up your macro, compile it, and use it when parsing the wiki content. Dynamically loading your macros is useful when you require a different set of macros to be executed than what is normally registered. For example, in CodePlex - we have a different set of allowed macros between editing a project's wiki content and editing your personal statement. Dynamically loading is achieved by utilizing one of the WikiEngine.Render overloads:

WikiEngine.Render("content", new IMacro[] { new WikiTitleLinkMacro() });

The only caveat of this approach, is that it will only use that macro when parsing your wiki content.



This is just the tip of the extensibility for WikiPlex. Creating your own macro is a great. Simply be cautious of your regular expression as it could have negative side effects (catastrophic backtracking) that will bring your site to a screeching halt! In the next installment, we'll take this scenario to the next step by creating a renderer for your macro.


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Categories: .NET | CodePlex | WikiPlex
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July 28. 2009 03:48

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Extending WikiPlex with Custom Macros - eWorld.UI - Matt Hawley


July 29. 2009 02:16

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July 31. 2009 03:27

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Extending WikiPlex with Custom Renderers - eWorld.UI - Matt Hawley


August 3. 2009 02:42

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