Tangling Multiple Org Files

I've been looking off and on for ways to combine separate code-blocks in org-mode into a single tangled file. I wanted to use it because I tangle code that I want to re-use out of posts but then if I want to break the posts up I need to create a separate file (tangle) for each post. I'm hopeful that this method will allow me to break up a tangle across multiple posts. I've only tried it on toy files but I want to get some initial documentation for it in place.

The Steps

Let's say that there are two source org-files:

  • one.org: contains the tangle block and a source block
  • two.org: contains another block that we want to tangle with the one in one.org

The steps are:

  1. Put an #+INCLUDE directive to include two.org into one.org
  2. Export one.org to an org file
  3. Open the exported org file (one.org.org)
  4. Tangle it.

Create one.org

The file one.org is going to have the tangle and the first source-block:

#+begin_src python :tangle ~/test.py :exports none

#+begin_src python :noweb-ref block-one
def one():

We also need to include what's in the second file (two.org). The code we want to include is in a section called Two so we can include just that section by adding a search term at the end.

#+INCLUDE: "./two.org::*Two"

Create two.org

In the other file add the section header to match the INCLUDE search term (*Two) and put a code block with a reference named block-two to match what's in the tangle block above.

* Two
#+begin_src python :noweb-ref block-two
def two():

Export one.org

Tangling unfortunately ignores the INCLUDE directive so we have to export it first to another org-file in order to get the text from org.two into our source file. By default, exporting to org is disabled so you need to enable it (e.g. starting with M-x customize org-export-backends).

Once it's enabled you can export one.org to an org-mode file using C-c C-e O v (the default name will be one.org.org).

Tangle one.org.org

The last choice when we exported the file in the previous step (v) will save it to a file and open it up in an emacs buffer. When the buffer is open you can then tangle it (C-c C-v C-t) and the output (/test.py from our tangle block) should contain both of our functions.


This is where I got the information on breaking up the files. It includes some emacs-lisp to run the steps automatically (although I didn't try it):

This is the post that mentions that exporting org-files to org-format needs to be enabled (and how to do it):

This is the manual page explaining the search syntax (which is what the #+INCLUDE format uses).

This explains the #+INCLUDE directive options: