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Getting Started

This guide is organized into 4 parts:

  1. Installation
  2. Getting Started
  3. Customisation
  4. Best Practices


Installation should be quick and fairly painless. The main installation step is to download the React App portion of uDocumentGenerator from Github. If you haven't used Github before, you have 3 options:

  1. Fork the repo - press the fork button
  2. Clone the repo - git clone
  3. Download the repo - press clone or download and then download zip

While these are all viable options, I'd really appreciate a fork as that helps out with the repo's statistics and builds a community more so than the two other options.

After downloading, locate where the repo was downloaded to. If you used git clone, it'll be in your user's root directory.

You don't need npm installed to use this, but there'd be a couple of drawbacks:

  1. You can't create new optimized builds.
  2. It's a bit more work to change the logo/social media links

I highly recommend installing npm because it's critical for customising/extending uDocumentGenerator. Although, both routes should take only a few minutes to get the React App customised and running.

I'll have a guide below detailing steps to use uDocumentGenerator below without ever generating builds/installing npm.

Installing npm

The instructions for Windows are found here. But the TLDR is to go to the node.js website, download the appropriate installer, and make sure to install npm during node.js installation.

The instructions for MacOS are found here. You may have to first install homebrew, but the TLDR is that you need to run brew update and then brew install node.

The instruction for Linux are found here. But the TLDR is that you should read over the article at the link.

Getting Started

If you want to see your comments turned into a website immediately, all you need to do is fill out the fields in the editor extension window.

The website template drop down should point to where the data folder in build folder is. You may change this (instructions below) if you decide to create a new build of the React App.

Alternatively, if you don't want to use the build version, have website template drop down point to where src in <script src="%PUBLIC_URL%/data/config.js" type="text/javascript"> points to. By default that'd be the data folder nested inside the public folder.

The acknowledgement, project description, and getting started file path drop downs are all to point to where you've saved your respective files. There's a test.txt file in the UI folder of the Editor folder that you can use as a placeholder for all 3 of those fields.

After filling in those fields, just click Generate to generate config.js.

All that's left is to check out your documentation website 🎉.

If you saved config.js to the build folder, click on index.html in the build folder to see your website.

Alternatively, run npm start after navigating into the project directory, and then in your browser, go to http://localhost:3000.

Customising uDocumentGenerator

With npm installed, customising uDocumentGenerator becomes easy.

It's also worth noting that using a good IDE such as Webstorm makes customisation even easier due to integration with npm.

Basic Customisation

index.html in the public folder is where you'll find logo customisation and webpage title customisation options.

To change the logo, change the string "%PUBLIC_URL%/data/abstractlogo.png to where your logo is located.

React note: %PUBLIC_URL% is the public folder you see in the project structure.

To change the title, change <title>DOCUMENTATION TITLE</title> to what you want the title to be.

Additionally in index.html, you'll find <script src="%PUBLIC_URL%/data/config.js" type="text/javascript"></script>. This is the file path to the config file. You can change this if you want, but keep the file path pointing to config.js unless you plan on saving to a different file name in the generation process.

To change the social media links go to App.js in the src folder. In App.js, find the createFooter method. Change the links to what you want them to be. Additionally, you may choose to change the link icons by going to font awesome. Make sure to choose icons that are of the class fa-2x, which will maintain the default formatting.

Advanced Customisation - most of this section will require familiarity with React.js

If you take a look at config.js there's extra data that isn't displayed on the front end. You may want to get a head start on displaying that data or add your own data, and this section will tell you what to watch for.

Note: that data isn't displayed because I don't believe right now it'll add much, if any, value.

Passing in extra data into the app

Data is passed into the app through config.js. The main data is passed in through the config variable. Other data such as acknowledgements, the project description, etc... are passed in as separate variables. If you want to pass in other generated data (such as project year), you should do that as a separate variable in config.js. Then in index.js pass it into app.js as a prop.

Page control

uDocumentGenerator displays pages in a Grommet Box, and it uses variables and a page array to change pages. The variable that keep track of the open page is called openPage (SUPRISE!). It belongs to the state of App, so updating its value updates the displayed page. changePage is used (and passed down) as a method called to change the page by updating openPage.

If you decide to add an extra page, make sure to add an entry to navItems in the NavbarBootstrap component. Make sure that the indices match those of this.pages in App.js to correctly handle page changing.

If you decide to handle page changing with in a page, make sure to pass in changePage from App.js to that page.

"Multi-functional" page control

Just changing the page is pretty simple: pass in changePage as a prop. Changing a page and performing another task is a bit more challenging.

The example we'll examine is the Card component defined in Card.js. A Card is meant to display a class's description and name on the landing page, and, when clicked, it's meant to navigate to the classes page and display the corresponding data on the classes page. All cards are also nested not only on the landing page but also in a CardList. This means that changePage will have to be passed down from like so: App -> Landing -> CardList -> Card. In Card we'll also pass in the index parameter into changePage (we've also made sure that indices stay consistent). Since changePageis bound to App , executing changePage in Card will work as expected. Also since this.pages is assigned in the render method, allowing us to pass in the updated props to Classes every time the UI updates.

The key takeaways from this are:

  1. Make sure to correctly bind functions you're going to pass.
  2. Make sure to pass a function deep enough to your desired component.
  3. Make sure to keep your indices aligned if you're using them to keep track of pages/data
  4. Make sure that you have a way of updating, visually, components that are meant to receive updated data.

Updating components during runtime

In React, it's a good idea to make changing data a state to update the UI. Yet, filteredFunctionData (the list of MethodBoxes) in ClassBox.js would update incorrectly. The number of MethodBoxes were correct, but the content was still the old content. This is likely due to React optimizations regarding replacing components of the same type (the old list of MethodBoxes gets replaced with a new list). To circumvent this, we have an intermediate step that replaces the list of MethodBoxes with a different type (in this case an empty list). This is implemented in Classes.js:

componentDidUpdate(prevProps, prevState, snapshot) {
		if (prevState.displayIndex !== this.props.displayIndex) {
			const funcData = this.classBox.generateFunctionData(true,[0][this.props.displayIndex]);
				functionData: funcData,
				filteredFunctionData: []
			this.setState({displayIndex: this.props.displayIndex});

So whenever the displayIndex is updated, i.e, a new class needs to be displayed, Classes will replace the list of MethodBoxes in ClassBox with an empty list. This will cause ClassBox to update and call componentDidUpdate, which ultimately sets the MethodBox to show correct data:

// update the values if Classes makes filteredFunctionData an empty list and the data was updated
if (this.state.filteredFunctionData.length === 0 && prevState.functionData !== this.state.functionData) {
	this.setState({filteredFunctionData: this.state.functionData});

TLDR: The key takeaway from this workaround is that, if you are building/extending a control that replaces data of one type with data of a the same type, you need to do something along the lines of:

type a -> type b -> type a

Note: text is an exception to this rule, so replacing "test" in <p> test </p> with <p> testing</p> can be directly done.

Changing theme colours

Look for where css color and background-color tags are defined. I've kept the default theme consistent, so finding the hex codes using CTRL/CMD-F to change them should be simple.

  • App background colour is: #2a2a2a
  • App hover/clicked background colour: #476c9b
  • App colour: white
  • Social media hover colour: #2a2a2a
  • Social media hover background colour: white
  • Class splitter control hover background colour: #d5d5d5
  • Getting started link colour: #b3d7ff
  • Navbar colour: #984447
  • MethodBox background colour: #282a35

Note: Look at the ClassBox variable table for its styling. I had to overwrite some styling there, so it's not consistent with the rest of the app.

To change syntax highlighting styles, first decide which markdown renderer you want to customise. All of the renderers are in Markdown-Render. All code blocks are covered by highlight.js, so look here for themes. The code block theme is currently the Dracula theme, so if you change that, you'll probably want to change the MethodBox background colour too. All inline code are covered by react-syntax-highlighter prism themes.

A note about visual studio generated comment XML

Using /// as your comment of choice in Visual Studio will generate XML tags such as <summary>. These are removed by ProcessJSON.cleanFormatDescription so that the markdown generator can process markdown correctly. If you need these tags, just change this method.

Without npm installed

Without npm installed, you'll have to modify index.html in the build folder.

Note: without npm you don't need to worry about any folder besides the build folder

The best way to customise the app is to go through the strings you need to customise one by one. You'd want to first format index.html as it is currently minified. You'll have 5 strings to modify across 2 files.

  1. Change the documentation title by replacing DOCUMENTATION TITLE in index.html with your title
  2. Change the logo by replacing ./data/abstractlogo.png in index.html in to the file path of your logo. Since the React App is configured by default to use ./ as the root, use ./ as the start point for your file path, e.g, if your logo is in an images folder write ./images/logo.png.
  3. Change the Github social link by first finding createElement("a",{href:""}," in the a js file that has a file name that starts with main under build -> static -> js. Next, replace the link string with your Github link.
  4. Change the Twitter social link by first finding createElement("a",{href:""}," in the a js file that has a file name that starts with main under build -> static -> js. Next, replace the link string with your Twitter link.
  5. Change the email social link by first finding createElement("a",{href:""}," in the a js file that has a file name that starts with main under build -> static -> js. Next, replace the link string with your email link.

Best practices

  • To write your acknowledgement, project description, and getting started files, I'd recommend using as your markdown editor.
  • To theme the React App, I'd recommend using to generate a bunch of colour themes.
  • When writing descriptions in markdown make sure to use \\n to indicate new lines. The description crawler does not use the new lines in C# files because it allows for you to better format your comments in code. For example, to indicate a list (ordered or not) make sure to do two new lines: \\n\\n.
  • When creating new components, try to use styled-components. Sometimes that difficult because libraries/components are already written with a separate stylesheet. In that case, writing a separate stylesheet is a great option
  • Components created from styled components will override those created from separate style sheets (including node modules). So when building your version of the app make sure to check for style issues. If there are discrepancies between the build and what you see from running it on the localhost, just add !important to that style.
  • Declare your variables before your methods in your Unity project. If you don't do that, uDocumentGenerator won't record your variables.
  • For deployment, the current setup works for standalone/downloaded documentation. This is also the setup used with Github pages right now. Alternatively, you can check out the create react app page for information about custom deployment.