Installing sciquill

Install software prerequisites

Sciquill is not one piece of software, but a collection of templates, recipes, and scripts. These scripts and templates require several open source tools, such as pandoc and inkscape. Because sciquill handles the whole stack of creating documents, including authoring in markdown, figure layouts and generation, and building PDFs, there are a few prerequisites.

Remote building with GitHub Actions

Sciquill can be easily set up to use github actions to build your documents in the cloud. You just edit markdown source files in your git repository, and then the output PDFs are built automatically via a github action. To use sciquill in this way, you don't need to install anything; just set up the sciquill github action. If you want to build things locally, then you can follow one of the approaches below.

Local building option 1: Use bulker

The easiest way to get everything you need is to just use bulker, which is a container manager built on docker or singularity. If you have bulker already configured, then setting up sciquill is simple:

pip install bulker
bulker load databio/sciquill
bulker activate databio/sciquill

You will also need to add the sciquill environment variables to your bulker config file:

bulker envvars -a TEXINPUTS
bulker envvars -a SQDIR
bulker envvars -a BIBTEXDB

That alone will set up all the prerequisites you need to run sciquill.

Local building option 2: Install everything natively

If you don't want to use bulker, the other option is to install everything natively.

  • Install pandoc to convert markdown to PDF.
  • Install inkscape to convert SVG to PDF.
  • Install libreoffice (optional) for some recipes that read xls or docx files.
  • Install ghostscript (optional) if you need to merge PDFs (should be standard on linux).

Configuring sciquill

After all the necessary is software is installed, you need to get the sciquill scripts and templates.

  • Clone databio/sciquill
  • Configure sciquill. The examples use an environment variable $SQDIR to point to this repository:
git clone
export SQDIR=`pwd`/sciquill

You'll want to add export SQDIR=/path/to/sqdir to your .bashrc so it will persist.

The latex templates in tex_templates rely on some relative includes. To use these, you'll need to add the path to that folder to your TEXINPUTS environment variable. Adding something like this in your .bashrc will accomplish this permanently (use your local path):

export TEXINPUTS="${TEXINPUTS}${SQDIR}/tex_templates/:"

Assemble your BibTeX database (optional).

If you want to produce a media type that includes citations, you will also need a bibtex file with your references. My favorite BibTeX management software is JabRef, because it is free, actively developed, and uses BibTeX as its native file format. The default makefile (sciquill.make) will use an ${BIBTEXDB} environment variable to look for your bibtex database. You can set it like this:

export BIBTEXDB=path/to/db.bib

As usual, make sure to put this in your .bashrc if you want it to persist.