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CoffeeScript API documentation generator. It's like YARD but for CoffeeScript!

Merge pull request #193 from hikerpig/master

Fix reference error caused by mistype
latest commit d54577f739
Boris Staal inossidabile authored

Codo Build Status

Codo is a CoffeeScript API documentation generator, similar to YARD. Its generated documentation is focused on CoffeeScript class syntax for classical inheritance.


  • Detects classes, methods, constants, mixins & concerns.
  • Many tags to add semantics to your code.
  • Generates a nice site to browse your code documentation in various ways.
  • Documentation generation and hosting as a service on

Codo in action

Annotate your source with Codo tags to add semantic information to your code. It looks like this:

# Base class for all animals.
# @example How to subclass an animal
#   class Lion extends Animal
#     move: (direction, speed): ->
class Example.Animal

  # The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything
  @ANSWER = 42

  # Construct a new animal.
  # @param [String] name the name of the animal
  # @param [Date] birthDate when the animal was born
  constructor: (@name, @birthDate = new Date()) ->

  # Move the animal.
  # @example Move an animal
  #   new Lion('Simba').move('south', 12)
  # @param [Object] options the moving options
  # @option options [String] direction the moving direction
  # @option options [Number] speed the speed in mph
  move: (options = {}) ->

Then generate the documentation with the codo command line tool. You can browse some generated Codo documentation on to get a feeling how you can navigate in various ways through your code layers.

In the Example namespace you'll find some classes and mixins that makes absolutely no sense, its purpose is only to show the many features Code offers.


Codo is available in NPM and can be installed with:

$ npm install -g codo

Please have a look at the CHANGELOG when upgrading to a newer Codo version with npm update.


You have to annotate your code with Codo tags to give it some meaning to the parser that generates the documentation. Each tag starts with the @ sign followed by the tag name. See the following overview for a minimal description of all available tags. Most tags are self-explaining and the one that aren't are described afterwards in more detail.

Tags can take multiple lines, just indent subsequent lines by two spaces.


The following table shows the list of all available tags in alphabetical order with its expected options. An option in parenthesis is optional and the square brackets are part of the Codo tag format and must actually be written. Some tags can be defined multiple times and they can be applied to different contexts, either in the comment for a class, a comment for a mixin or in a method comment.

Tag format Multiple occurrences Classes Mixins Methods
@abstract (message)
@author name
@concern mixin
@copyright name
@example (title)
@extend mixin
@include mixin
@note message
@method signature
  Method tags
@option option [type] name description
@event name [description]
  Event tags
@overload signature
  Method tags
@param [type] name description
@param name [type] description
@property [type] description
@return [type] description
@see link/reference
@since version
@throw message
@todo message
@version version

Alternative syntax

You can also use curly braces instead of square brackets if you prefer:

# Move the animal.
# @example Move an animal
#   new Lion('Simba').move('south', 12)
# @param {Object} options the moving options
# @option options {String} direction the moving direction
# @option options {Number} speed the speed in mph
move: (options = {}) ->

It's also possible to use CoffeeScript block comments instead of the normal comments. If you solely use block comments, you may want to use the --cautious flag to disable the internal comment conversion.

Move the animal.

@example Move an animal
  new Lion('Simba').move('south', 12)

@param [Object] options the moving options
@option options [String] direction the moving direction
@option options [Number] speed the speed in mph
move: (options = {}) ->

If you want to compile your JavaScript with Google Closure and make use of the special block comments with an asterisk, you want to use the --closure flag so that Codo ignores the asterisk.


There are two different format recognized for your parameters, so you can chose your favorite. This one is with the parameter after the parameter type:

# Feed the animal
# @param [World.Food] food the food to eat
# @param [Object] options the feeding options
# @option options [String] time the time to feed
feed: (food) ->

And this one with the name before the type:

# Feed the animal
# @param food [World.Food] the food to eat
# @param options [Object] the feeding options
# @option options time [String] the time to feed
feed: (food) ->

The parameter type can contain multiple comma separated types:

# Feed the animal
# @param [String, Char] input
# @return [Integer, Float] output
do: (input) ->

Each known type will be automatically linked. Also named parameters are recognized:

class Classmate

  # @param {string} name Full name (first + last)
  # @param {string} phone Phone number
  # @param {obj} picture JPG of the person
  constructor: ( {@name, @phone, picture} ) ->

  # @param {string} reason Why I'm no longer friends
  # @param {Date} revisit_decision_on When to reconsider
  unfriend: ( {reason, revisit_decision_on} ) ->


If you have an object as parameter and you like to define the accepted properties as options to the method, you can use the @options tag:

# Feed the animal
# @param [Object] options the calculation options
# @option options [Integer] age the age of the animal
# @option options [Integer] weight the weight of the animal
expectationOfLife: (options) ->

The first parameter to the option tag is the parameter name it describes, followed by the parameter type, name and description.


The object types for the @param, @option and @return tags are parsed for known classes or mixins and linked. You can also define types for Arrays with:

# @param [World.Region] region the region of the herd
# @return [Array<Animals>] the animals in the herd
getHerdMembers: (regions) ->


You can mark an instance variable as property of the class by using the @property tag like:

class Person

  # @property [Array<String>] the nicknames
  nicknames: []

In addition, the following properties pattern is detected:

class Person

  get = (props) => @::__defineGetter__ name, getter for name, getter of props
  set = (props) => @::__defineSetter__ name, setter for name, setter of props

  # @property [String] The person name
  get name: -> @_name
  set name: (@_name) ->

  # The persons age
  get age: -> @_age

If you follow this convention, they will be shown in the generated documentation with its read/write status shown. To specify type of the property, use the @property tag.

Method overloading

If you allow your method to take different parameters, you can describe the method overloading with the @overload tag:

# This is a generic Store set method.
# @overload set(key, value)
#   Sets a value on key
#   @param [Symbol] key describe key param
#   @param [Object] value describe value param
# @overload set(value)
#   Sets a value on the default key `:foo`
#   @param [Object] value describe value param
#   @return [Boolean] true when success
set: (args...) ->

The @overload tag must be followed by the alternative method signature that will appear in the documentation, followed by any method tag indented by two spaces.

Virtual methods

If you copy over functions from other objects without using mixins or concerns, you can add documentation for this virtual (or dynamic) method with the @method tag:

# This class has a virtual method, that doesn't
# exist in the source but appears in the documentation.
# @method #set(key, value)
#   Sets a value on key
#   @param [Symbol] key describe key param
#   @param [Object] value describe value param
class VirtualMethods

The @method tag must be followed by the method signature that will appear in the documentation, followed by any method tag indented by two spaces. The difference to the @overload tag beside the different context is that the signature should contain either the instance prefix # or the class prefix ..


It's common practice to mix in objects to share common logic when inheritance is not suited. You can read more about mixins in the The Little Book on CoffeeScript.

Simply mark any plain CoffeeScript object with the @mixin tag to have a mixin page generated that supports many tags:

# Speed calculation for animal.
# @mixin
# @author Rockstar Ninja
Example.Animal.Speed =

  # Get the distance the animal will put back in a certain time.
  # @param [Integer] time Number of seconds
  # @return [Integer] The distance in miles
  distance: (time) ->

Next mark the target object that includes one or multiple mixins:

# @include Example.Animal.Speed
class Example.Animal.Lion

and you'll see the mixin methods appear as instance methods in the lion class documentation. You can also extend a mixin:

# @extend Example.Animal.Speed
class Example.Animal.Lion

so its methods will show up as class methods.


A concern is a combination of two mixins, one for instance methods and the other for class methods and it's automatically detected when a mixin has both a ClassMethods and an InstanceMethods property:

# Speed calculations for animal.
# @mixin
# @author Rockstar Ninja
Example.Animal.Speed =


    # Get the distance the animal will put back in a certain time.
    # @param [Integer] time Number of seconds
    # @return [Integer] The distance in miles
    distance: (time) ->


    # Get the common speed of the animal in MPH.
    # @param [Integer] age The age of the animal
    # @return [Integer] The speed in MPH
    speed: (age) ->

You can use @concern to include and extend the correspondent properties:

# @concern Example.Animal.Speed
class Example.Animal.Lion

Non-class methods and variables

You can also document your non-class, top level functions and constants within a file. As soon Codo detects these types within a file, it will be added to the file list and you can browse your file methods and constants.

Text processing

GitHub Flavored Markdown

Codo class, mixin and method documentation and extra files written in Markdown syntax are rendered as full GitHub Flavored Markdown.

The @return, @param, @option, @see, @author, @copyright, @note, @todo, @since, @version and @deprecated tags rendered with a limited Markdown syntax, which means that only inline elements will be returned.

Automatically link references

Codo comments and all tag texts will be parsed for references to other classes, methods and mixins, and are automatically linked. The reference searching will not take place within code blocks, thus you can avoid reference searching errors by surround your code block that contains curly braces with backticks.

There are several ways of link types supported and all can take an optional label after the link.

  • Normal URL links: {} or { Try CoffeeScript}
  • Link to a class or mixin: {Animal.Lion} or {Animal.Lion The mighty lion}
  • Direct link to an instance method: {Animal.Lion#walk} or {Animal.Lion#walk The lion walks}
  • Direct link to a class method: {Animal.Lion.constructor} or {Animal.Lion.constructor} A new king was born

The @see tag supports the same link types, just without the curly braces:

@see The wikipedia page about lions


After the installation you will have a codo binary that can be used to generate the documentation recursively for all CoffeeScript files within a directory.

$ codo --help
Usage: codo [options] [source_files [- extra_files]]

  --help, -h          Show this help                          
  --version           Show version                            
  --extension, -x     Coffee files extension                    [default: "coffee"]
  --output, -o        The output directory                      [default: "./doc"]
  --theme             The theme to be used                      [default: "default"]
  --name, -n          The project name used                   
  --readme, -r        The readme file used                    
  --quiet, -q         Supress warnings                          [default: false]
  --verbose, -v       Show parsing errors                       [default: false]
  --undocumented, -u  List undocumented objects                 [default: false]
  --closure           Try to parse closure-like block comments  [default: false]
  --private, -p       Show privates                             [default: false]
  --analytics, -a     The Google analytics ID                   [default: false]
  --title, -t         HTML Title                                [default: "Codo Documentation"]

Codo wants to be smart and tries to detect the best default settings for the sources, the readme, the extra files and the project name, so the above defaults may be different on your project.

Project defaults

You can define your project defaults by writing your command line options to a .codoopts file:

--name       "Codo"
--title      "Codo Documentation"
--extension  coffee
--output     ./doc

Put each option flag on a separate line, followed by the source directories or files, and optionally any extra file that should be included into the documentation separated by a dash (-). If your extra file has the extension .md, it'll be rendered as Markdown.

Keyboard navigation

You can quickly search and jump through the documentation by using the fuzzy finder dialog:

  • Open fuzzy finder dialog: T

In frame mode you can toggle the list naviation frame on the left side:

  • Toggle list view: L

You can focus a list in frame mode or toggle a tab in frameless mode:

  • Class list: C
  • Mixin list: I
  • File list: F
  • Method list: M
  • Extras list: E

You can focus and blur the search input:

  • Focus search input: S
  • Blur search input: Esc

In frameless mode you can close the list tab:

  • Close list tab: Esc

Report issues

Issues hosted at GitHub Issues.

The Codo specs are template based, so make sure you provide a code snippet that can be added as failing spec to the project when reporting an issue with parsing your CoffeeScript code. The other thing that might be useful is the actual exception happening (run with -d).


Source hosted at GitHub.

Pull requests are very welcome! Please try to follow these simple rules if applicable:

  • Please create a topic branch for every separate change you make.
  • Make sure your patches are well tested.
  • Update the documentation.
  • Update the README.
  • Update the CHANGELOG for noteworthy changes.
  • Please do not change the version number.


  • Docco is a quick-and-dirty, literate-programming-style documentation generator.
  • CoffeeDoc an alternative API documentation generator for CoffeeScript.
  • JsDoc an automatic documentation generator for JavaScript.
  • Dox JavaScript documentation generator for node using markdown and jsdoc.

Core Team



(The MIT License)

Copyright (c) 2012-2014 Michael Kessler, Boris Staal

Template components are derivative works of YARD (
Copyright (c) Loren Segal and licensed under the MIT license

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of this software and associated documentation files (the 'Software'), to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense, and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.


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