Automated API documentation from Rspec
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Dox

Automate your documentation writing proces! Dox generates API documentation from Rspec controller/request specs in a Rails application. It formats the tests output in the API Blueprint format. Choose one of the renderes to convert it to HTML or host it on Apiary.io

Here's a demo app and here are some examples:

Installation

Add this line to your application's Gemfile:

group :test do
  gem 'dox', require: false
end

And then execute:

$ bundle

Or install it yourself as:

$ gem install dox

Usage

Require it

Require Dox in the rails_helper:

require 'dox'

and configure rspec with this:

RSpec.configure do |config|
  config.after(:each, :dox) do |example|
    example.metadata[:request] = request
    example.metadata[:response] = response
  end
end

Configure it

Set these mandatory options in the rails_helper:

Option Value Description
header_file_path Pathname instance or fullpath string Markdown file that will be included at the top of the documentation. It should contain title and some basic info about the api.
desc_folder_path Pathname instance or fullpath string Folder with markdown descriptions.

Optional settings:

Option Value Description
headers_whitelist Array of headers (strings) Requests and responses will by default list only Content-Type header. To list other http headers, you must whitelist them.

Example:

Dox.configure do |config|
  config.header_file_path = Rails.root.join('spec/docs/v1/descriptions/header.md')
  config.desc_folder_path = Rails.root.join('spec/docs/v1/descriptions')
  config.headers_whitelist = ['Accept', 'X-Auth-Token']
end

Basic example

Define a descriptor module for a resource using Dox DSL:

module Docs
  module V1
    module Bids
      extend Dox::DSL::Syntax

      # define common resource data for each action
      document :api do
        resource 'Bids' do
          endpoint '/bids'
          group 'Bids'
        end
      end

      # define data for specific action
      document :index do
        action 'Get bids'
      end
    end
  end
end

You can define the descriptors for example in specs/docs folder, just make sure you load them in the rails_helper.rb:

Dir[Rails.root.join('spec/docs/**/*.rb')].each { |f| require f }

Include the descriptor modules in a controller and tag the specs you want to document with dox:

describe Api::V1::BidsController, type: :controller do
  # include resource module
  include Docs::V1::Bids::Api

  describe 'GET #index' do
    # include action module
    include Docs::V1::Bids::Index

    it 'returns a list of bids', :dox do
      get :index
      expect(response).to have_http_status(:ok)
    end
  end
end

And generate the documentation.

Advanced options

Before running into any more details, here's roughly how is the generated API Blueprint document structured:

  • header
  • resource group
    • resource
      • action
        • example 1
        • example 2
      • action
      • ...
    • resource
      • action
    • ...
  • resource group
    • resource
      • action

Header is defined in a markdown file as mentioned before. Examples are concrete test examples (you can have 2 examples for create 1 happy path, 1 fail path). They are completely automatically generated from the request/response objects. And you can customize the following in the descriptors:

  • resource group
  • resource
  • action

Resource group

Resource group contains related resources and is defined with:

  • name (required)
  • desc (optional, inline string or relative filepath)

Example:

document :bids_group do
  group 'Bids' do
    desc 'Here are all bid related resources'
  end
end

You can omit defining the resource group, if you don't have any description for it. Related resources will be linked in a group by the group option at the resource definition.

Resource

Resource contains actions and is defined with:

  • name (required)
  • endpoint (required)
  • group (required; to associate it with the related group)
  • desc (optional; inline string or relative filepath)

Example:

document :bids do
  resource 'Bids' do
    endpoint '/bids'
    group 'Bids'
    desc 'bids/bids.md'
  end
end

Usually you'll want to define resource and resource group together, so you don't have to include 2 modules with common data per spec file:

document :bids_common do
  group 'Bids' do
    desc 'Here are all bid related resources'
  end

  resource 'Bids' do
    endpoint '/bids'
    group 'Bids'
    desc 'bids/bids.md'
  end
end

Action

Action is defined with:

  • name (required)
  • path* (optional)
  • verb* (optional)
  • params* (optional)
  • desc (optional; inline string or relative filepath)

* these optional attributes are guessed (if not defined) from the request object of the test example and you can override them.

Example:

show_params = { id: { type: :number, required: :required, value: 1, description: 'bid id' } }

document :action do
  action 'Get bid' do
    path '/bids/{id}'
    verb 'GET'
    params show_params
    desc 'Some description for get bid action'
  end
end

Generate documentation

Documentation is generated in 2 steps:

  1. generate API Blueprint markdown: bundle exec rspec spec/controllers/api/v1 -f Dox::Formatter --order defined --tag dox --out docs.md

  2. render HTML with some renderer, for example, with Aglio: aglio -i docs.md -o docs.html

Use rake tasks

It's recommendable to write a few rake tasks to make things easier. Here's an example:

namespace :api do
  namespace :doc do
    desc 'Generate API documentation markdown'
    task :md do
      require 'rspec/core/rake_task'

      RSpec::Core::RakeTask.new(:api_spec) do |t|
        t.pattern = 'spec/controllers/api/v1/'
        t.rspec_opts = "-f Dox::Formatter --order defined --tag dox --out public/api/docs/v1/apispec.md"
      end

      Rake::Task['api_spec'].invoke
    end

    task html: :md do
      `aglio -i public/api/docs/v1/apispec.md -o public/api/docs/v1/index.html`
    end

    task open: :html do
      `open public/api/docs/v1/index.html`
    end

    task publish: :md do
      `apiary publish --path=public/api/docs/v1/apispec.md --api-name=doxdemo`
    end
  end
end

Renderers

You can render the HTML yourself with one of the renderers:

Both support multiple themes and template customization.

Or you can just take your generated markdown and host your documentation on Apiary.io.

Common issues

You might experience some strange issues when generating the documentation. Here are a few examples of what we've encountered so far.

Wrap parameters issue

Rails wraps JSON parameters on all requests by default, which results with documented requests looking like this:

+ Request get pokemons
    {
      "pokemon": {}
    }

To disable wrapping parameters with a resource name, turn off this feature in config/initializers/wrap_parameters.rb:

# Enable parameter wrapping for JSON. You can disable this by setting :format to an empty array.
ActiveSupport.on_load(:action_controller) do
  wrap_parameters format: []
end

Rendering warnings with Aglio

You might get the following warnings when rendering HTML with Aglio:

  • no headers specified (warning code 3)
  • empty request message-body (warning code 6)

This usually happens on GET requests examples when there are no headers. To solve this issue, add at least one header to the tests' requests, like Accept: application/json.

Development

After checking out the repo, run bin/setup to install dependencies. Then, run rake spec to run the tests. You can also run bin/console for an interactive prompt that will allow you to experiment.

To install this gem onto your local machine, run bundle exec rake install. To release a new version, update the version number in version.rb, and then run bundle exec rake release, which will create a git tag for the version, push git commits and tags, and push the .gem file to rubygems.org.

Contributing

Bug reports and pull requests are welcome on GitHub at https://github.com/infinum/dox. This project is intended to be a safe, welcoming space for collaboration, and contributors are expected to adhere to the Contributor Covenant code of conduct.

Credits

Dox is maintained and sponsored by Infinum.

Infinum

License

The gem is available as open source under the terms of the MIT License.