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ABC Plugin (for displaying sheet music)

Compatible with DokuWiki

  • 2014-09-29 "Hrun" unknown
  • 2014-05-05 "Ponder Stibbons" unknown
  • 2013-12-08 "Binky" unknown
  • 2013-05-10 "Weatherwax" yes

plugin Displays sheet music (input ABC, output PNG, MIDI and PDF)

Last updated on

What is ABC?

abc is a musical notation language and “designed to notate tunes in plain text format.”

See for more information.

Attempts by other Wikis

Implementing in DokuWiki


  • convert, one of the tools from ImageMagick (GPL-compatible license)
  • Ghostscript (GPL or AFPL)
    • needed by convert for handling eps files, see Andi's tutorial on ImageMagick for details
    • ps2pdf from the same package (optional, only needed if you want to have PDF files created instead of PS files)
  • abcm2ps (GPL 2)
  • abc2midi from abcMIDI (GPL 2, optional, only needed if you want to have midi files created)
    • abc2abc from the same package (optional, only needed if you want to be able to transpose automatically)

Download and Install

Download and install the latest version of the plugin (for DokuWiki versions 2006-11-06 - 2009-12-25) using the Plugin Manager using the URL given above. Refer to Plugins on how to install plugins manually.

Download version 2006-02-27a for older DokuWiki versions (2005-07-01 - 2006-03-09)


For the latest plugin versions (2007-06-03, 2006-12-09 + 2006-07-23)

Please use the Configuration Manager to configure the needed variables! (If you want to change these manually, you can edit ./lib/plugins/abc/conf/default.php instead.)

config variabledescription importance
abc2ps path where to find abcm2ps essential
im_convert path where to find convert from ImageMagick (from the main DokuWiki config!) essential
displayType how to display the output (image only; image linked to midi; image with list of abc, midi, PS/PDF) recommended
abc2midi path where to find abc2midi (optional if you keep to the default displayType, needed with all other displayTypes)recommended
ps2pdf path where to find ps2pdf (optional, only needed for displayType 2 (image with list of abc, midi, PS/PDF) and if you want pdf files to be created instead of ps files)(optional, new in version 2006-12-09)
abc2abc path where to find abc2abc (only needed when ability to transposition is wanted, leave blank for disallowing transposition)(optional)
fmt path where to find an abcm2ps format file (e.g. “foo.fmt”) to format the PS/PDF file (leave blank for not using any)(optional)
mediaNS namespace for media files; before version 2008-08-17 they were stored in a subfolder of the media directory 'plugin_abc', now this is configurable (leave blank for root and the acl mechanism to work on these files as well); please use only one valid namespace name (optional, new in version 2008-08-17)
abcok turn abc rendering on or off; when turned off, only the source is displayed (optional)
displaySource turn additional displaying of the abc source on or off (optional)
displayErrorlogturn displaying of error logs (of abc2ps and abc2midi) on or off (they are only displayed once when page is saved or previewed) (optional, new in version 2008-08-17)
params4img parameters for generating the image (optional, new in version 2007-06-03, only for experts!)
params4ps parameters for generating the ps/pdf file (optional, new in version 2007-06-03, only for experts!)
style.css and file icons

Since version 2006-12-09 a file icon for midi files was added. If you want to allow midi files to be uploaded by the media manager and want them to be automatically recognized by DokuWiki, you should take the steps described here (using my mid.png or any other) and comment out the last lines of style.css.

You can do the same with a possible abc icon …

For older versions (2006-02-27a and earlier)

Please read the README that comes with the zip file!

Probable alteration of ./inc/search.php

The plugin stores all needed media files automatically in the DokuWiki media directory in a subnamespace (configurable through mediaNS, default: “plugin_abc”). If you do not want them to be displayed and made accessible through the media popup, you can alter ./inc/search.php. In the first function search() right after this

  if(preg_match('/^[\._]/',$file)) continue; //skip hidden files and upper dirs

just add the following line:

  if (substr($file,0,10)=='plugin_abc') continue; //skip plugin_abc dir

or substitute “plugin_abc” with your configured “mediaNS” accordingly.

Usage in DokuWiki

"C" C2 D2 E2 G2 |"C" c8 |]
w:This is just a test

This code will lead to one of three possible outputs (set by $conf['abcDisplayType']):

  • output 1: image of the sheet music, linked to the corresponding midi file
  • output 2: image with a list of links to the corresponding abc, MIDI and PS (or PDF) file
  • output 0: image only


Since version 2005-11-20 it is possible to let the plugin transpose for you by an extra parameter. This parameter has to be a number between -23 and 23, which is the amount of semitones the tune will be transposed up (if positive) or down (if negative).

Since version 2006-02-21 it is possible to let the plugin transpose for you by extra parameters (separated by spaces; only 7 different values allowed). These parameters have to be numbers between -23 and 23, which is the amount of semitones that the tune will be transposed up (if positive) or down (if negative). E.g.

<abc 7 -3>
"C" C2 D2 E2 G2 |"C" c8 |]
w:This is just a test

will show the tune in the original key, as well as automatically transposed up to G major and down to A major.


If the plugin does not seem to work …

  1. Make sure the involved programmes work properly (by testing e.g. “/path/to/abcm2ps -O” in the shell).
  2. There is an internal debug variable, which can be turned on for more detailed hints what could be wrong (“var $_debug = 1;” near the top of syntax.php).
  3. Add a purge parameter to the URL (“?purge=1” or “&purge=1”) when testing - to force a recaching of the page and to recreate all abc plugin related files.

Important notes

  • I only just began to learn PHP, so please feel free to make improvements!
  • Any kind of error handling or other measures to provide security may not have been cared for satisfyingly. So any usage at your own risk.
  • I have successfully tested on Windows2000 and Linux Debian.
  • You can test the plugin at this live wiki:

Version history

  • 2008-08-17:
    • made abc media namespace configurable (if your wiki closed, this could fix a security issue)
    • added the option to display the error logs of abcm2ps and abc2midi (only once when the page is saved or previewed)
    • fixed browser caching for changed media files
    • fixed preview of a revision
    • improved error messages
  • 2007-06-03:
    • support for (many) UTF-8 characters, which will be automatically converted into their equivalent escape sequence
    • formerly nothing was displayed when the image failed to be generated, now an error is displayed instead
    • two config options were added for the possibility of changing the abcm2ps parameters for the image and ps/pdf generation
  • 2006-12-09:
    • support for PDF file creation
    • for the list of abc, midi, PS/PDF files corresponding file icons for different media types are used
    • when doing a “?purge=1”, the behaviour for not parsing unchanged source again, is avoided
    • a simple (hidden) way to debug was added
    • the style.css was changed (so was a bit of the HTML output)
  • 2006-07-23:
    • no more usage of the .trans file
    • if transposition parameters have changed, only the necessary files are parsed again
    • old transposed files will now be deleted
    • upgraded for ability to use the config manager for configuration
    • from now on the abc source is always in the HTML source (for search engine optimization)
    • rough error handling
  • 2006-02-27a: bugfix for creation of ps file when no fmt file is used
  • 2006-02-27: bugfix for preview and revisions (similar to 670) and reaction to deletion of $conf['dmask']
  • 2006-02-21: enhanced transposition functionality
  • 2005-11-21: bugfix for handling file names (realpath) of more than 120 characters and changing the file base
  • 2005-11-20: new transposition functionality
  • 2005-10-23: first functioning version!
  • 2005-07-04: first version



Please include for rendering.

Output tabs

Hey!! Congratulations for your plugin!!! It would be great if you could extend it to be able to output tabs besides music sheets. Is it possible? – Jorge 2007-02-13 14:50

Thanks. Yes, outputting tabs is possible by using abctab2ps instead of abcm2ps. And the plugin has to be tweaked a little, as well (most probably, maybe not!? I haven't tested). But I have no time to do it in the too near future. — Anika Henke 2007-04-01 12:22

I found out that tabs can be done with jaabc2ps, as well. With the new release (2007-06-03) of the abc plugin, you could change the params4img config option to “-s 1 -T1CeBGDA,E, -o” or something similar. I don't know, if it will work right away, you might still be needing to tweak the plugin a bit more. But now it should be easier. — Anika Henke 2007-06-04 23:40

Troubles getting plugin to run

Hey Anika, I'm having an issue getting the plugin to run on my hosting service. They've given me access to all the binaries (abc2*, ps2pdf and convert) and I've setup the config file. Only issue I can think of is permissions. My page that uses the plugin is here. Got any tips for resolving this? Thanks. — Chris Freyer 2007-12-07 00:50

Hallo! 1. The im_convert config option is not part of the plugin config, but of the main DokuWiki config. So it should be set there. 2. The message “(im_convert) is not executable” indicates that there is no path set in $conf['im_convert']. Otherwise it would read “/path/to/convert (im_convert) is not executable”. — Anika Henke 2007-12-07 16:43

ACL issues

Hi Anika,
Here is reporting an ACL issue for the abc plugin on DokuWiki-2008-05-05 release version.
My wiki is set to be a closed wiki (@ALL default None), and set @ALL read to :stanley namespace and stanley page.
However, the abc tag on stanley:song page cannot show up PNG image file. You may see the URL -
any idea? — Jonathan Tsai 2008/05/17 14:55

Hallo! Sorry, all abc media files are stored in the namespace “plugin_abc”. I did not want the “normal” media folders to be too cluttered. But unfortunately, this also means “normal” ACL rules will not apply. (In future releases I will make this namespace configurable!) You can either
- add an ACL rule
plugin_abc:*      @ALL    1

- or change the following lines in ./lib/plugins/abc/syntax.php (in order to not store all files in “plugin_abc”, but in their correct corresponding namespace):

//line 177:
$abcdir = $savedir.'/media/plugin_abc';
//line 354:


//line 177:
$abcdir = $savedir.'/media';
//line 354:

Anika Henke 2008/05/18 11:54

Thanks Anika,

After comparing the adding an ACL rule method and the other method to modify './lib/plugins/abc/syntax.php' code , I would like to choose the last one to solve the issue. Because it can let all abc files following my ACL rules setting. Thank you again for your kindly and rapidly reply.

Jonathan Tsai 2008/05/18 23:23

Working with jcabc2ps

Hmmm, tried to get the plugin working with jcabc2ps but that directly writes to stdout and I haven't got a clue how to fix this and either change the plugin to do something like jcabc2ps > or alter jcabc2ps to directly dump to .ps. (The reason I'd like to use jcabc2ps is the more clever way of altering bass notes and such… Anything anyone could fix? (I might try to fiddle around with it a bit myself, but I have very little knowledge of PHP…) — Harmen 2009/03/31 17:14

Setting ps2pdf on Windows

I'm not too sure what to put when setting ps2pdf. I've tried putting c:\xxx\xxx\ghostscript\gs8.71\lib\ps2pdf14 and I get the error message that it's not an executable. There's no .exe files that I can see in the ghostscript folder. Midi & ps conversion works fine. Dokuwiki on local install. Any help appreciated. — ty 2011/08/29 10:13

Understanding Transposition

I understood that I have to put the following in the plugin beginning to obtain a transposition:

<abc 7 -3>

Do I need to do something else to obtain a transposition? I copied your example in my page but it seems to not work. What did I missed? Florin

You only need to make sure abc2abc (from the abc2midi package) is installed and working. The path to it then needs to be set in the abc2abc config option. — Anika HenkeAnika Henke

London, UK
2014/03/23 13:43

Error messages

I recive the folowing errors: abc2ps In tune

Error : 'staffwidth' too big

File C:/xampp/htdocs/dki/data/media/plugin_abc/kunde/
Output written on C:/xampp/htdocs/dki/data/media/plugin_abc/kunde/2_zocharti_loch001.eps (26954 bytes)

File C:/xampp/htdocs/dki/data/media/plugin_abc/kunde/
Output written on C:/xampp/htdocs/dki/data/media/plugin_abc/kunde/ (1 page, 1 title, 27063 bytes) — Florin

That is just a feedback from abcm2ps which you can ignore or even turn off with the displayErrorlog config option. The messages will only be displayed the first time you save a page with ABC in it, after that they will disappear. — Anika HenkeAnika Henke

London, UK
2013/07/11 01:39

Error : 'staffwidth' too big-it is a normal message? — Florin
Yes, I get that message all the time. That is nothing to worry about. — Anika HenkeAnika Henke

London, UK
2013/07/12 00:35

So, please tell me where exactly should I post this debugging code var $_debug = 1?

There is only one syntax.php in the plugin and there is only one “var $_debug”.

For test I made myself via notepad an ABC File with this content:
<abc 5>
“C” C2 D2 E2 G2 |“C” c8 |]
w:This is just a test.

ABC files shouldn't have <abc></abc> in them. That's only meant for DokuWiki to know that the content can be rendered by the ABC plugin.
Good to know.

1.This is my first manual testing steps:
Win server 2003. Run, cmd:
C:\Utile\abcm2ps>C:\Utile\abcm2ps\abcm2ps.exe -s 1 -w 600 -E -O test. 2>&1
abcm2ps-6.6.22 (November 28, 2012)
- In tune '':
Error : 'staffwidth' too big
Output written on test001.eps

2.C:\Utile\ImageMagick-6.8.6-Q8\convert.exe C:\Utile\abcm2ps\test001.eps -flatten test.png
convert: Postscript delegate failed `rrr.eps': No such file or directory @ error/ps.c/ReadPSImage/837.
convert: no images defined `rrr.png' @ error/convert.c/ConvertImageCommand/3106.

You are probably missing the Ghostscript delegate library. Install it from here:
Anika HenkeAnika Henke

London, UK
It works! My advice is to open the imdisplay.exe inside ImageMagick folder and try to open manually test001.eps. If you see the image the converter is working. (to me it did not work before installing GhostScript application!)

Pay attention too to the apache error.log. It seems that for some reasons the path to im_converter (set in Configuration Manager DW) to not be recognized because of the space between C:\Program(space)files\path. For me it worked installing outside Program Files.Florin
plugin/abc.txt · Last modified: 2014-03-23 13:45 by ach