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ExDoc

Build Status

ExDoc is a tool to generate documentation for your Elixir projects. To see an example, you can access Elixir's official docs.

To learn about how to document your projects, see Elixir's writing documentation page.

To see all supported options, see the documentation for mix docs.

Features

ExDoc ships with many features:

  • Automatically generates HTML and EPUB documents from your API documentation.
  • Responsive design, covering phones and tablets.
  • Support for custom pages, guides, livebooks and cheatsheets.
  • Support for custom grouping of modules, functions, and pages in the sidebar.
  • Generates HTML documentation, accessible online and offline.
  • Customizable logo.
  • A direct link back to the source code for every documented entity.
  • Full-text search.
  • Keyboard shortcuts. (Press ? to show help.)
  • Quick-search with autocompletion support. (s keyboard shortcut.)
  • Go-to shortcut with auto-complete to take the reader to any HexDocs package documentation. (g keyboard shortcut.)
  • Support for night mode, activated according to the browser preference.
  • Tooltips for links to modules and functions, for the current project and other projects.
  • Version dropdown, automatically configured when hosted on HexDocs.

Usage

You can use ExDoc with Mix (recommended for Elixir projects), with Rebar (recommended for Erlang projects), or via the command line.

Using ExDoc with Mix

ExDoc requires Elixir v1.10 or later.

First, add ExDoc as a dependency:

def deps do
  [
    {:ex_doc, "~> 0.27", only: :dev, runtime: false},
  ]
end

Then run mix deps.get.

Erlang development environment {: .warning}

Some Operating System distributions split Erlang into multiple packages, and at least one ExDoc dependency (earmark_parser) requires the Erlang development environment. If you see a message like "/usr/lib/erlang/lib/parsetools-2.3.1/include/yeccpre.hrl: no such file or directory", it means you lack this environment. For instance, on the Debian operating system and its derivatives, you need to apt install erlang-dev.

ExDoc will automatically pull in information from your projects, such as the application and version. However, you may want to set :name, :source_url and :homepage_url in order to have nicer output from ExDoc:

def project do
  [
    app: :my_app,
    version: "0.1.0-dev",
    deps: deps(),

    # Docs
    name: "MyApp",
    source_url: "https://github.com/USER/PROJECT",
    homepage_url: "http://YOUR_PROJECT_HOMEPAGE",
    docs: [
      main: "MyApp", # The main page in the docs
      logo: "path/to/logo.png",
      extras: ["README.md"]
    ]
  ]
end

Now you are ready to generate your project documentation with mix docs. To see all options available, run mix help docs.

Using ExDoc with Rebar3

From Erlang/OTP 24+, you can use ExDoc to render your Erlang documentation written with EDoc. See rebar3_ex_doc for more information.

Using ExDoc via command line

You can use ExDoc via the command line.

  1. Install ExDoc as an escript:

    $ mix escript.install hex ex_doc
  2. Now you are ready to use it in your projects. Move into your project directory and make sure it's compiled:

    $ cd PATH_TO_YOUR_PROJECT
    $ mix compile
  3. Invoke the ex_doc executable from your project:

    $ ex_doc "PROJECT_NAME" "PROJECT_VERSION" _build/dev/lib/project/ebin -m "PROJECT_MODULE" -u "https://github.com/GITHUB_USER/GITHUB_REPO" -l path/to/logo.png

For example, here are some acceptable values:

PROJECT_NAME    => Ecto
PROJECT_VERSION => 0.1.0
PROJECT_MODULE  => Ecto (the main module provided by the library)
GITHUB_USER     => elixir-lang
GITHUB_REPO     => ecto

Syntax highlighting

ExDoc uses the makeup project for syntax highlighting. By default, highlighters for Erlang and Elixir are included. To syntax-highlight other languages, simply add the equivalent makeup_LANGUAGE package to your mix.exs/rebar.config file. For example, for HTML support you would add:

    {:makeup_html, ">= 0.0.0", only: :dev, runtime: false}

You can find all supported languages under the Makeup organization on GitHub and view them at Makeup's website.

Additional pages

You can publish additional pages in your project documentation by configuring them as :extras. The following formats and extensions are supported:

  • Markdown (.md extension) - useful for general long-term text. Learn more.

  • Cheatsheets (.cheatmd extension) - useful for discovery and quick reference. Learn more.

  • Livebooks (.livemd extension) - useful for tutorials, interactive examples and deep dives. Learn more.

For example, you can set your :extras to:

extras: ["README.md", "LICENSE", "tutorial.livemd", "cheatsheet.cheatmd"]

Run mix help docs for more information on configuration.

Metadata

ExDoc supports metadata keys in your documentation.

In Elixir, you can add metadata to modules and functions.

For a module, use @moduledoc:

@moduledoc since: "1.10.0"

For a function, use @doc:

@doc since: "1.13.1"

In Erlang's EDoc:

%% @since 0.1.0

The following metadata is available for both modules and functions:

  • deprecated (string) - marks a module/function as deprecated, with the given string as the reason.
  • since (string) - declares a module/function available from a particular version.

The following metadata is available for modules:

  • tags (list of atoms) - a list of strings to be added as tags to the module. (Not supported by EDoc.)

Auto-linking

ExDoc for Elixir will automatically generate links across modules and functions if you enclose them in backticks.

  • When referring to a module, function, type or callback from your project, such as `MyModule`, ExDoc will automatically link to it.
  • When referring to a module, function, type or callback from Elixir, such as `String`, ExDoc will automatically link to it at Elixir's stable documentation.
  • When referring to a function, type, or callback from OTP, such as (`:queue.new/0`), ExDoc will automatically link to it at the OTP documentation.
  • When referring to a module, function, type or callback from any of your dependencies, such as `MyDep`, ExDoc will automatically link to it at the dependency's documentation at hexdocs.pm. (The link can be configured by setting docs: [deps: [my_dep: "https://path/to/docs/"]] in your mix.exs.)

ExDoc supports linking to modules (`MyModule`), functions (`MyModule.function/1`), types (`t:MyModule.type/2`) and callbacks (`c:MyModule.callback/3`). If you want to link a function, type or callback in the current module, you may skip the module name; e.g.: `function/1`.

You can also use custom text; e.g.: [custom text](`MyModule.function/1`). This also allows you to refer to OTP modules; e.g.: [`:array`](`:array`).

Link to extra pages using the syntax [Up and running](Up and running.md), skipping the directory in which the page is. The final link will be automatically converted to up-and-running.html.

Admonition blocks

You may want to draw attention to certain statements by taking them out of the content's flow and labeling them with a priority. Such statements are called admonitions. (They are also known as asides or callouts.) An admonition block is rendered based on the assigned label or class. ExDoc supports warning, error, info, tip and neutral tags, on header levels h3 and h4.

The syntax is as follows:

> #### Error {: .error}
>
> This syntax will render an error block

The result for the previous syntax is:

Error {: .error}

This syntax will render an error block

For example, if you change the class name to neutral, you get the same admonition block in neutral style:

Error {: .neutral}

This syntax will render an error block

Extensions

ExDoc renders Markdown content for you, but you can extend it to render complex objects on the page using JavaScript. To inject custom JavaScript into every page, add this to your configuration:

docs: [
  # ...
  before_closing_body_tag: &before_closing_body_tag/1
]

# ...

defp before_closing_body_tag(:html) do
  """
  <!-- HTML injected at the end of the <body> element -->
  """
end

defp before_closing_body_tag(_), do: ""

Rendering Math

If you write TeX-style math in your Markdown, such as $\sum_{i}^{N} x_i$, it ends up as raw text on the generated pages. To render expressions, we recommend using KaTeX, a JavaScript library that turns expressions into graphics. To load and trigger KaTeX on every documentation page, we can insert the following HTML:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/katex@0.13.19/dist/katex.min.css" integrity="sha384-beuqjL2bw+6DBM2eOpr5+Xlw+jiH44vMdVQwKxV28xxpoInPHTVmSvvvoPq9RdSh" crossorigin="anonymous">
<script defer src="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/katex@0.13.19/dist/katex.min.js" integrity="sha384-aaNb715UK1HuP4rjZxyzph+dVss/5Nx3mLImBe9b0EW4vMUkc1Guw4VRyQKBC0eG" crossorigin="anonymous"></script>
<script defer src="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/katex@0.13.19/dist/contrib/auto-render.min.js" integrity="sha384-+XBljXPPiv+OzfbB3cVmLHf4hdUFHlWNZN5spNQ7rmHTXpd7WvJum6fIACpNNfIR" crossorigin="anonymous" onload="renderMathInElement(document.body);"></script>

For more details and configuration options, see the KaTeX Auto-render Extension.

Rendering Vega-Lite plots

Snippets are also objects you may want to render in a special manner. For example, assuming your Markdown includes Vega-Lite specification in vega-lite code snippets:

<script src="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/vega@5.20.2"></script>
<script src="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/vega-lite@5.1.1"></script>
<script src="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/vega-embed@6.18.2"></script>
<script>
  document.addEventListener("DOMContentLoaded", function () {
    for (const codeEl of document.querySelectorAll("pre code.vega-lite")) {
      try {
        const preEl = codeEl.parentElement;
        const spec = JSON.parse(codeEl.textContent);
        const plotEl = document.createElement("div");
        preEl.insertAdjacentElement("afterend", plotEl);
        vegaEmbed(plotEl, spec);
        preEl.remove();
      } catch (error) {
        console.log("Failed to render Vega-Lite plot: " + error)
      }
    }
  });
</script>

For more details and configuration options, see vega/vega-embed.

Rendering Mermaid graphs

Similarly to the example above, if your Markdown includes Mermaid graph specification in mermaid code snippets:

<script src="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/mermaid@8.13.3/dist/mermaid.min.js"></script>
<script>
  document.addEventListener("DOMContentLoaded", function () {
    mermaid.initialize({ startOnLoad: false });
    let id = 0;
    for (const codeEl of document.querySelectorAll("pre code.mermaid")) {
      const preEl = codeEl.parentElement;
      const graphDefinition = codeEl.textContent;
      const graphEl = document.createElement("div");
      const graphId = "mermaid-graph-" + id++;
      mermaid.render(graphId, graphDefinition, function (svgSource, bindListeners) {
        graphEl.innerHTML = svgSource;
        bindListeners && bindListeners(graphEl);
        preEl.insertAdjacentElement("afterend", graphEl);
        preEl.remove();
      });
    }
  });
</script>

For more details and configuration options, see the Mermaid usage docs.

Contributing

The easiest way to test changes to ExDoc is to locally rebuild the app and its own documentation:

  1. Run mix setup to install all dependencies.
  2. Run mix build to generate the docs. This is a custom alias that will build assets, recompile ExDoc, and output fresh docs into the doc/ directory.
  3. If working on the assets, you may wish to run the assets build script in watch mode: npm run --prefix assets build:watch.
  4. Run mix lint to check if the Elixir and JavaScript files are properly formatted. You can run mix fix to let the JavaScript linter and Elixir formatter fix the code automatically before submitting your pull request.
  5. Please do not add the files generated in the formatters/ directory to your commits. These will be handled as necessary by the repository maintainers.

The build process is currently tested in Node 16 LTS.

See the README in the assets/ directory for more information on working on the assets.

License

ExDoc source code is released under the Apache 2 License. The generated contents, however, are under different licenses based on projects used to help render HTML, including CSS, JS, and other assets.

Any documentation generated by ExDoc, or any documentation generated by any "Derivative Works" (as specified in the Apache 2 License), must include a direct, readable, and visible link to the ExDoc repository on each rendered material. For HTML pages, every single page is a rendered material. For PDF, EPUB and other ebook formats, the whole body of documentation is a rendered material.