Configuring Site Relative Base Paths

When rendering documents in the Preview for documents that eventually end up on a Web Site, you often end up with site relative links that use a site relative root path that starts with /.

For example if you have images with links like this on a Web site:

  • /images/test.png
  • /.attachments/images/test.png (VSTS)
  • ~/images/test2.png

the images are unlikely to render properly in the Preview, because MM can't interpret the / or ~/ root path without some help. It simply doesn't know what / or ~/ means in the context of only an open Markdown Document. By default, when MM renders topics it assumes the document's path as the base path for the document and so it really only works reliably when resolving document relative or fully qualified paths. But it can't automatically resolve web root relative paths, because it has no idea where the / path lives in your 'project'.

Site Root Paths are important for a couple of reasons:

  • Preview Root Folder Location
    This allows the Previewer to use the Site Root Path as the basePath in the rendered HTML document. All links are then rendered relative to this base path. This effectively mimics the behavior of a Web site root folder even if that location is not running as a Web site.

  • Relative Paths for Link and File Embedding This allows you to link or save files in a local folder location that can be resolved as a relative path to the Preview Root Path specified so that /images can resolve cleanly. It also ensures that ../ links are only followed up to the Root Path and don't embed crazy link ../../../ folder chains.

Ideally you should never link a file using an absolute path as that ever will only work on your local machine. Ideally everything should be linked as a relative path without forcing excessive and useless ../ backlinking.

Site Relative Path Overrides

To help with this Root Path problem, Markdown Monster allows you to specify a previewWebRootPath - a path that describes the Project's Root Folder. The idea is that you can now reference / as a path and resolve to this root path. Likewise links embedded can create a relative path that that can use / at its base as well as reliable link ../ up to the parent folder, but no further.

There are several settings that let you specify the Root Path (in order of processing priority):

  1. previewWebRootPath YAML header in the active document
  2. PreviewWebRootPath in an open MM project (.mdproj file)
  3. .markdownmonster, _toc.json, docfx.json file in a parent folder
  4. <yourProject>.mdproj project file in a parent folder

The easiest and most common approach is to just drop a marker file in #3 in the project root folder. This is a one time configuration for an entire folder hierarchy.

YAML Header

The first and most localized way is by providing a YAML header in your Markdown document as:

previewWebRootPath: c:\wikis\mywiki\


Once you add the header any link that references a path starting with / will use c:\wikis\mywiki as the base path for \. So /images/screenshot.png becomes c:\wikis\mywiki\images\screenshot.png.

To specify the YAML attribute you can add a YAML header to the document at the very top of the Markdown document:

You can use either full path as above or a document relative path:

previewWebRootPath: ..\


If you want to be adventurous you can also use Web links:



Which can work if you have all related resources that live images on a content Web site or CDN.

Project Setting

Markdown Monster has support for projects which is basically a collection of files or folders that you open and save as a collection in the editor. You can use File -> Projects -> Save Project to create a new project which captures the currently active documents that are open as well as the active folder.

The project also has a PreviewWebRootPath property that can be configured using the Edit Project File menu option:

  "ActiveFolder": "C:\\projects\\MarkdownMonster\\samples",
  "ActiveSidebarIndex": 0,
  "OpenDocuments": [
      "Filename": "C:\\projects\\MarkdownMonster\\SampleDocuments\\",
      "IsActive": true,
      "LastEditorLineNumber": 0,
      "LastImageFolder": null
  // This sets the WebRootPath for all files rendered while the project is open
  "PreviewWebRootPath": "C:\\projects\\MarkdownMonster"

When this value is set it is applied to all documents when rendering links/images that start with a / - same as with the YAML header.

You can set this value to the default value of null if you don't want any overrides to occur on the project level.

If the PreviewWebRootPath property is not set the .mdproj file's path automatically is used.

.markdownmonster or _toc.json Files in Parent Hierarchy

You can also use a couple of special files in the 'root' folder that designates your Web root folder. If you have .markdownmonster or _toc.json files in a folder anywhere in the hierarchy of the current document that folder will be used as the preview Web root path.

Final Fallback: OS Root Directory

If none of the above apply the / resolution falls back to the OS path, which is likely never what you want, so I recommend you have one of the other solutions in place or use document relative paths instead.

© West Wind Technologies, 2016-2024 • Updated: 07/29/23
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