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Hanna — a better RDoc template

Hanna is an RDoc generator that scales. It's implemented in Haml, making the sources clean and readable. It's built with simplicity, beauty and ease of browsing in mind. (See more in the wiki.)

Hanna gem is available from

gem install hanna

The template was created by Mislav and since then has seen contributions from:

  1. Tony Strauss, who participated from the early start and made tons of fixes and enhancements to the template;
  2. Hongli Lai with the search filter for methods.
  3. Erik Hollensbe a serious refactoring and up to date with RDoc 2.5.x.
  4. James Tucker minor cleanups for Erik.


rdoc -o doc -f hanna lib/*.rb

An alternative is to set the RDOCOPT environment variable:

RDOCOPT="-f hanna"

This will make RDoc always use Hanna unless it is explicitly overridden.

Integrating with RubyGems

Another neat trick is to put the following line in your .gemrc, this will make RubyGems use Hanna for all rdoc generation:

rdoc: -f hanna

This will make RubyGems use Hanna when generating documentation for installed gems.

Rake task

For repeated generation of API docs, it's better to set up a Rake task. Simply add the hanna format argument to your RDoc::Task options:

require 'hanna'
require 'rdoc/task' do |rdoc|
  rdoc.options.push '-f', 'hanna'

Tip: you can do this in the Rakefile of your Rails project before running rake doc:rails.

Here is an example of a task for the rdbi library:

require 'hanna'
require 'rdoc/task' do |rdoc|
  version = File.exist?('VERSION') ?'VERSION') : ""

  rdoc.options.push '-f', 'hanna'
  rdoc.main = 'README.rdoc'
  rdoc.rdoc_dir = 'rdoc'
  rdoc.title = "RDBI #{version} Documentation"

Generating documentation for installed gems

The gem comes with a RubyGems plugin that overrides the gem default arguments to RDoc to use Hanna.

To regenerate documentation for a specific gem, first configure RubyGems to use Hanna, by adding the following to your .gemrc:

rdoc: -f  hanna

Now to regenerate documentation for an already installed gem:

gem rdoc mygem --overwrite

To regenerate documentation for all gems:

gem rdoc --all --overwrite

To easily browse your newly created documentation, use gem server.

You can help

Don't like something? Think you can design better? (You probably can.)

I think of Hanna as the first RDoc template that's actually maintainable. First thing I have done is converted the original HTML template to Haml and Sass, cleaning up and removing the (ridiculous amount of) duplication. Also, the template fragments are now in separate files.

Ultimately, I'd like to lose the frameset. Currently that is far from possible because the whole RDoc HTML Generator is built for frames. Still, that is my goal.

This is git. Fork it, hack away, tell me about it!

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