Skip to content


Subversion checkout URL

You can clone with
Download ZIP
Fetching contributors…

Cannot retrieve contributors at this time

569 lines (422 sloc) 18.436 kB

GeanyGenDoc User Manual

A handy hand guide for the lazy documenter in you


First of all, welcome to this manual. Then, what is GeanyGenDoc? It is a plug-in for Geany as you might have noticed; but what is it meant to do? Basically, it generates and inserts text chunks, particularly from document's symbols. Its goal is to ease writing documentation for the good.

If you are impatient, you will probably want to discover the user interface in Geany first; but if you have the time to discover the tool, take a look at the design and learn how GeanyGenDoc works and how you can take the most of it.

User interface in Geany


GeanyGenDoc adds an item named Insert Documentation Comment in the editor's pop-up under the Insert Comments sub-menu; and a menu named Documentation Generator into the Tools menu.

Editor's pop-up menu

The item Editor's pop-up → Insert Comments → Insert Documentation Comment generates documentation for the current symbol. It has a keyboard shortcut that can be configured through Geany's keybinding configuration system, under GeanyGenDoc → Insert Documentation Comment.

Tools menu

The Documentation Generator menu under Tools contains the following items:

Document Current Symbol
This generates documentation for the current symbol. It is equivalent to the item Insert Documentation Comment that can be found in the editor's pop-up menu.
Document All Symbols
This generates documentation for all symbols in the document. This is equivalent to manually requesting documentation generation for each symbol in the document.
Reload Configuration Files
This force reloading of all the file type configuration files. It is useful when a file type configuration file was modified, in order to the new configuration to be used without reloading the plugin.
Edit Current Language Configuration
This opens the configuration file that applies to the current document for editing. The opened configuration file has write permissions: if it was a system configuration file it is copied under your personal configuration directory transparently.
Open Manual
Opens this manual in a browser.

Preferences dialog

The preferences dialog, than can either be opened through Edit → Plugin Preferences or with the Preferences button in the plugin manager, allows to modify the following preferences:

Save file before generating documentation
Choose whether the current document should be saved to disc before generating the documentation. This is a technical detail, but it is currently needed to have an up-to-date tag list. If you disable this option and ask for documentation generation on a modified document, the behavior may be surprising since the comment will be generated for the last saved state of the document and not the current one.
Indent inserted documentation
Chooses whether the inserted documentation should be indented to fit the indentation at the insertion position.
Documentation type
This list allows you to choose the documentation type to use with each file type. The special language All on top of the list is used to choose the default documentation type, used for all languages that haven't one set.
Global environment
Global environment overrides and additions. This is an environment that will be merged with the file type-specific ones, possibly overriding some parts. It can be used to define some values for all the file types, such as whether to write the common Since tag, define the Doxygen prefix an so on. Its most use case is not to need to change a file type's environment to change the value of one of its elements.


GeanyGenDoc has an extensible design based on three points: file type, documentation type and rules.

File type
The file type determines which configuration applies to which document. For example, the "c" file type corresponds to C source, and so on.
Documentation type
A documentation type is an arbitrary name for a set of rules. The goal of documentation types is to allow different set of rules to be defined for each file type. One might want to have separate rules to generate for example Doxygen and Gtk-Doc documentation from C sources. She should then create two documentation types in the C file type configuration file, such as "doxygen" and "gtkdoc".
A rule is a group of settings controlling how a documentation comment is generated. For example, it can define a template, describe how to handle particular imbrications and so on.


Key-Value pairs

The syntax used by the configuration files is an extended key-value tree definition based on common concepts (trees, string literals, semicolon-ended values, etc.).

The key-value syntax is as follows:

key = value

where value is either a semicolon-ended single value:


or a brace-surrounded list of key-value pairs that use the same syntax again:

  key1 = value1
  key2 = value2

Here a little example of the syntax (not any actual configuration example):

key1 = value1;
key2 = {
  sub-key1 = sub-value1;
  sub-key2 = {
    sub-sub-key1 = sub-sub-value1;


Key-value pairs are often referred as group when they are meant to have multiple values and as setting when they have a single value.


Is considered as comment (and therefore ignored) everything between a number sign (#) and the following end of line, unless the # occurs as part of another syntactic element (such as a string literal).

A short example:

# This is a comment
key = value; # This is also a comment
string = "A string. # This isn't a comment but a string";

Value types


A string literal. String literals are surrounded by either single (') or double (") quotes.

Some special characters can be inserted in a string with an escape sequence:

A tabulation.
A new line.
A carriage return.
A backslash.
A single quote (escaping only needed in single-quotes surrounded strings).
A double quote (escaping only needed in double-quotes surrounded strings).

Note that backslashes are used as the escaping character, which means that it must be escaped to be treated as a simple backslash character.

A simple example:

"This is a string with \"special\" characters.\nThis is another line!"
A boolean. It can take one of the two symbolic values True and False.
An enumeration. It consists of a named constant, generally in capital letters. The possible values depend on the setting that use this type.

A logical OR of named constants. This is like enumerations but can combine different values.

The syntax is common for such types and uses the pipe (|) as combination character. Considering the A, B and C constants, a valid value could be A | C, which represents both A and C but not B.

A list of values (often referred as array).

File types

The file type determines which configuration applies to which document. File type identifiers are the lowercased name of the Geany's file type, for example "c" or "python".

Configuration for a particular file type goes in a file named file-type-identifier.conf in the filetypes sub-directory of a configuration directory.

A file type configuration can contain two type of things: file-type-wide settings and any number of documentation types.

The settings group

This group contains the file-type-wide settings.

match_function_arguments (string)
A regular expression used to extract arguments from a function-style argument list (functions, methods, macros, etc.). This regular expression should match one argument at a time and capture only the argument's name. This setting is a little odd but currently needed to extract argument list from function definitions.
global_environment (string)
A description of a CTPL environment to add when parsing rule's templates.

The doctypes group

This group contains a list of documentation types.

Documentation types

A documentation type is a named set of rules for a file type, describing how to generate a particular type of documentation (i.e. Doxygen, Gtk-Doc, Valadoc or whatever).

A documentation type is identified by its name and must therefore be unique in a file type. But of course, different file types can define the same documentation type. It is even recommended for a better consistency to use the same identifier in different file types when they generate the same type of documentation (even though it is completely up to you).

Short example

doxygen = {
  struct.member = {
    template = " /**< {cursor} */";
    position = AFTER;
  struct.template = "/**\n * @brief: {cursor}\n * \n * \n */\n";

Rules: the cool thing

Rules are the actual definition of how documentation is generated. A rule applies to a symbol type and hierarchy, allowing fine control over which and how symbols are documented.

A rule is represented as a group of settings in a documentation type. The name of this group is the type hierarchy to which the settings applies.

Type hierarchy

A type hierarchy is a hierarchy of the types that a symbol must have to match this rule.

In the symbol side, the type hierarchy is the types of the symbol's parents, terminated by the symbol's own type. For example, a method in a class would have a hierarchy like class -> method; and if the class is itself in a namespace, the hierarchy would the look like namespace -> class -> method, and so on.

For a rule to apply, its type hierarchy must match the end of the symbol type hierarchy. For example a rule with the type hierarchy class will match a symbol with the type hierarchy namespace -> class but not one with class -> method.

A type hierarchy uses dots (.) to separate types and build the hierarchy. For example, the type hierarchy representing namespace -> class would be written namespace.class.

Known types

A class.
An enumeration.
An enumeration value.
A field (of a class for example).
A function.
An interface.
A member (of a structure for example).
A method.
A namespace.
A package.
A prototype.
A structure.
A type alias definition (typedef in C).
An union.
A variable.
A definition (like the define C preprocessor macro).
A macro.
A file (will never match).

Rule settings

template (string)

A CTPL template that can include references to the following predefined variables in addition to the file-type-wide and the global environments:

argument_list (string list)
A list of the arguments of the currently documented symbol.
returns (boolean)
Indicates whether the currently documented symbol returns a value (makes sense only for symbols that may return a value).
children (string list)
A list of the current symbol's first-level children. This is only set if the rule's setting children is set to MERGE.
symbol (string)
The name of the symbol that is documented.


cursor (special, described below)
This can be used to mark in the template the position where the editor's cursor should be moved to after comment insertion. This mark will be removed from the generated documentation. Note that even if this mark may occur as many times as you want in a template, only the first will be actually honored, the latter being only removed.
position (enumeration)

The position where the documentation should be inserted. Possible values are:

BEFORE [default]
Inserts the documentation just before the symbol.
Inserts the documentation just after the symbol (currently quite limited, it inserts the documentation at the end of the symbol's first line).
Inserts the documentation at the current cursor position.
policy (enumeration)

How the symbol is documented. Possible values are:

KEEP [default]
The symbol documents itself.
Forward the documentation request to the parent. This is useful for symbols that are documented by their parent, such as Gtk-Doc's enumerations.
Completely ignore the symbol and handle the documentation request as if it hasn't existed at all. This can be useful to ignore e.g. variables if they are extracted by the tag manager of the language and you don't want to document them, and don't want them to "eat" the documentation request.
children (enumeration)

How the symbol's children can be used in the template. Possible values are:

SPLIT [default]
The symbol's children are provided as per-type lists.
The symbol's children are provided as a single list named children.
matches (flags)
List of the children types that should be provided. Only useful if the children setting is set to MERGE. Defaults to all. FIXME: check the exactitude of this description
auto_doc_children (boolean)
Whether to also document symbol's children (according to their own rules).


Configuration directories

Configuration directories hold GeanyGenDoc's configuration. They are the following:

  • The user-specific configuration directory, containing the user-defined settings is $GEANY_USER_CONFIG/plugins/geanygendoc/. $GEANY_USER_CONFIG is generally ~/.config/geany/ on UNIX systems.
  • The system-wide configuration directory containing the default and pre-installed configuration is $GEANY_SYS_CONFIG/plugins/geanygendoc/. $GEANY_SYS_CONFIG is generally /usr/share/geany/ or /usr/local/share/geany on UNIX systems.

When searching for configuration, GeanyGenDoc will first look in the user's configuration directory, and if it wasn't successful, in the system configuration directory. If both failed, it assumes that there is no configuration at all.



GeanyGenDoc, a Geany plugin to ease generation of source code documentation
Copyright (C) 2010-2011 Colomban Wendling <ban(at)herbesfolles(dot)org>

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program. If not, see <>.

Configuration syntax summary

string               ::= ( """ .* """ | "'" .* "'" )
constant             ::= [_A-Z][_A-Z0-9]+
integer              ::= [0-9]+
boolean              ::= ( "True" | "False" )
setting_value        ::= ( string | constant | integer )
setting              ::= "setting-name" "=" setting_value ";"
setting_list         ::= ( "{" setting* "}" | setting )
setting_section      ::= "settings" "=" setting_list

position             ::= ( "BEFORE" | "AFTER" | "CURSOR" )
policy               ::= ( "KEEP" | "FORWARD" | "PASS" )
children             ::= ( "SPLIT" | "MERGE" )
type                 ::= ( "class" | "enum" | "enumval" | "field" |
                           "function" | "interface" | "member" | "method" |
                           "namespace" | "package" | "prototype" | "struct" |
                           "typedef" | "union" | "variable" | "extern" |
                           "define" | "macro" | "file" )
matches              ::= type ( "|" type )*
doctype_subsetting   ::= ( "template"          "=" string |
                           "position"          "=" position |
                           "policy"            "=" policy |
                           "children"          "=" children |
                           "matches"           "=" matches |
                           "auto_doc_children" "=" boolean ) ";"
match                ::= type ( "." type )*
doctype_setting      ::= ( match "=" "{" doctype_subsetting* "}" |
                           match "." doctype_subsetting )
doctype_setting_list ::= ( "{" doctype_setting* "}" | doctype_setting )
doctype              ::= "doctype-name" "=" doctype_setting_list
doctype_list         ::= ( "{" doctype* "}" | doctype )
doctype_section      ::= "doctypes" "=" doctype_list

document             ::= ( setting_section? doctype_section? |
                           doctype_section? setting_section? )

[default](1, 2, 3) This is the default value of the setting
Jump to Line
Something went wrong with that request. Please try again.