Howdyadoc: a Free, open source git+markdown toolchain for legal documents that just works

How we learned to stop worrying and develop contracts as code


Drafting legal texts, especially when it comes to contracts, is often similar to writing code: modularity and reusability, version and branch control, collaborative editing and issue management are needs shared between developers and lawyers — even if the latter may not always realize it :).

In the end lawyers and developers face similar tasks, but lawyers can’t really leverage cooperative tools like git.

Having some software development background we wondered if we could use the same paradigms to produce legal documents, and to create a toolchain which should be easy to use for everybody. Git, Markdown, Pandoc, Mustache, Make (and some hand-made filters and scripts) did the trick. And we have a nifty presentation toolchain too! All with reveal-md and little else.

We can now produce documents and presentations using little else than a text editor and pretty much standard FOSS tools, roughly in the same way as software is written. And we think that this toolchain may be useful also to produce and manage business documentation, academic publications, and so on.