Stencila Converters

Stencila Converters

Stencila Converters allow you to convert between a range of formats commonly used for among researchers (and not only). The conversion of interactive source code sections of the document is lossless - you can still run the code after the conversion. This means that you can seamlessly collaborate with colleagues who prefer other than you interfaces, without yourself having to give up your tool of choice. Stencila Converters are using the awesome power of pandoc so if you are already a pandoc user, you should find the Converters easy to use.


The easiest way to install the Converters is through installing Stencila Command Line (CLI) tool. The installation requires two steps:

  1. Download and unpack the binary file with the CLI for your operating system.
  2. Copy the binary file to the relevant location in your operating system so that you can easily access the tool in the command line:
  • on Windows:
    1. create a folder in C:\Program Files\ called stencila,
    2. copy the stencila.exe (which will be in the unpacked folder you just downloaded) file into it;
    3. then open Windows Command Line and add the folder to the PATH variable : setx path "%path%;C:\Program Files\stencila";

Note that the above instructions will work for Windows 7 and above. If you are using a Windows machine with an older version of the operating system, please use this command in the command line: set PATH=%PATH%;C:\Program Files\stencila

  • on Linux, copy the stencila binary file to /usr/local/bin/;
  • on Mac OS X, copy the stencila file to the /usr/local/bin/ folder.


The basic use of the Converter is fairly simple. Open the terminal and type stencila convert path-to-input-file path-to-output-file, replacing path-to-input-file and path-to-output-file with actual paths. So for example:

stencila convert Stencila/examples/hello-world/hello-world/ Stencila/examples/hello-world/hello-world.docx

You should see the following output message:

✓  Success converting "Stencila/examples/hello-world/hello-world/" to "Stencila/examples/hello-world/hello-world.docx"

You can override the file format both from and to which the Converter is meant to convert. In order to do that, use the --from and --to options. In the example below the output file format will actually be comma separated values, even thought the output file name has a different extension (txt).

stencila convert hospital.xlsx --to csv hospital.txt

If you don't specify the output for the Converter, it will display on the screen (standard output) the input file converted to the intermittent internal Stencila JSON format.

stencila convert hospital.xls
  "type": "Document",
  "front": {
    "name": {
      "type": "String",
      "data": "patient"
  "body": [
      "type": "Table",
      "rows": [
              "type": "String",
              "data": "Day 1"

To get more help on using the Converter type stencila convert -h.

Convert to PDF

Conversion to PDF will require pdflatex (because this is how pandoc works). Check the installation details here.

Convert spreadsheets

Stencila Converters support spreadsheet conversion.

stencila convert hospital.xlsx

Should result in:

✓  Success converting "hospital.xlsx" to ""

Note that conversion from xlsx format to md retains some metadata from the original spreadsheet:

Convert projects

You can convert a whole folder into a supported by Stencila DAR project which will contain all your articles and spreadsheets ready to work with in Stencila. You need to specify the output format to have the dar extension:

stencila convert path-to-folder path-to-project.dar

Or you can do it using --to flag:

stencila convert path-to-folder --to dar path-to-project

Note that if you use --to flag and you don't spefify the dar extension in the output project name, the Converter will still complete the conversion.

Supported formats

Stencila Converters recognize the file extensions and use the relevant converters. Below is the list of currently recognized file extensions:

Format Extension
Delimiter Separated Values csv, tsv
HTML html
JavaScript Object Notation json
Journal Aricle Tag Suite jats
Jupyter Notebook ipnyb
Latex tex
Markdown md
Microsoft Excel xlsx
Microsoft Word docx
Open Document Spreadsheet ods
Open Document Text odt
Portable Document Format pdf
RMarkdown Rmd
XMarkdown* Xmd
Reproducible Document Archive sheet.xml, sheetml, jats.xml

* In XMarkdown you can use any code blocks, e.g. py, js and so on.