Documenter is designed to do one thing – combine markdown files and inline docstrings from Julia's docsystem into a single inter-linked document. What follows is a step-by-step guide to creating a simple document.
Documenter can be installed using the Julia package manager. From the Julia REPL, type
] to enter the Pkg REPL mode and run
pkg> add Documenter
Setting up the Folder Structure
DocumenterTools.generate from the
DocumenterTools package can generate the basic structure that Documenter expects.
Firstly, we need a Julia module to document. This could be a package generated via
PkgDev.generate or a single
.jl script accessible via Julia's
LOAD_PATH. For this guide we'll be using a package called
Example.jl that has the following directory layout:
Example/ ├── src/ │ └── Example.jl ...
Note that the
... just represent unimportant files and folders.
We must decide on a location where we'd like to store the documentation for this package. It's recommended to use a folder named
docs/ in the toplevel of the package, like so
Example/ ├── docs/ │ └── ... ├── src/ │ └── Example.jl ...
docs/ folder we need to add two things. A source folder which will contain the markdown files that will be used to build the finished document and a Julia script that will be used to control the build process. The following names are recommended
docs/ ├── src/ └── make.jl
Building an Empty Document
docs/ directory now setup we're going to build our first document. It'll just be a single empty file at the moment, but we'll be adding to it later on.
Add the following to your
using Documenter, Example makedocs(sitename="My Documentation")
This assumes you've installed Documenter as discussed in Installation and that your
Example.jl package can be found by Julia.
If your source directory is not accessible through Julia's LOAD_PATH, you might wish to add the following line at the top of make.jl
Now add an
index.md file to the
If you use Documenter's default HTML output the name
index.md is mandatory. This file will be the main page of the rendered HTML documentation.
Leave the newly added file empty and then run the following command from the
$ julia make.jl
$ just represents the prompt character. You don't need to type that.
If you'd like to see the output from this command in color use
$ julia --color=yes make.jl
When you run that you should see the following output
[ Info: SetupBuildDirectory: setting up build directory. [ Info: Doctest: running doctests. [ Info: ExpandTemplates: expanding markdown templates. [ Info: CrossReferences: building cross-references. [ Info: CheckDocument: running document checks. [ Info: Populate: populating indices. [ Info: RenderDocument: rendering document. [ Info: HTMLWriter: rendering HTML pages.
docs/ folder should contain a new directory – called
build/. Its structure should look like the following
build/ ├── assets │ ├── documenter.js │ ├── search.js │ ├── themes │ │ ├── documenter-dark.css │ │ └── documenter-light.css │ ├── themeswap.js │ └── warner.js ├── index.html ├── search │ └── index.html └── search_index.js
By default, Documenter has pretty URLs enabled, which means that
src/foo.md is turned into
src/foo/index.html, instead of simply
src/foo.html, which is the preferred way when creating a set of HTML to be hosted on a web server.
However, this can be a hindrance when browsing the documentation locally as browsers do not resolve directory URLs like
foo/index.html for local files. You have two options:
You can run a local web server out of the
docs/builddirectory. One way to accomplish this is to install the LiveServer Julia package. You can then start the server with
julia -e 'using LiveServer; serve(dir="docs/build")'. Alternatively, if you have Python installed, you can start one with
python3 -m http.server --bind localhost(or
python -m SimpleHTTPServerwith Python 2).
You can disable the pretty URLs feature by passing
prettyurls = falsewith the
makedocs(..., format = Documenter.HTML(prettyurls = false))
Alternatively, if your goal is to eventually set up automatic documentation deployment with e.g. Travis CI or GitHub Actions (see Hosting Documentation), you can also use their environment variables to determine Documenter's behavior in
make.jlon the fly:
makedocs(..., format = Documenter.HTML( prettyurls = get(ENV, "CI", nothing) == "true" ) )
git commit the contents of
build (or any other content generated by Documenter) to your repository's
master branch. Always commit generated files to the
gh-pages branch of your repository. This helps to avoid including unnecessary changes for anyone reviewing commits that happen to include documentation changes.
See the Hosting Documentation section for details regarding how you should go about setting this up correctly.
At this point
build/index.html should be an empty page since
src/index.md is empty. You can try adding some text to
src/index.md and re-running the
make.jl file to see the changes.
Adding Some Docstrings
Next we'll splice a docstring defined in the
Example module into the
index.md file. To do this first document a function in that module:
module Example export func """ func(x) Returns double the number `x` plus `1`. """ func(x) = 2x + 1 end
Then in the
src/index.md file add the following
# Example.jl Documentation ```@docs func(x) ```
When we next run
make.jl the docstring for
Example.func(x) should appear in place of the
@docs block in
build/index.md. Note that more than one object can be referenced inside a
@docs block – just place each one on a separate line.
Note that a
@docs block is evaluated in the
Main module. This means that each object listed in the block must be visible there. The module can be changed to something else on a per-page basis with a
@meta block as in the following
# Example.jl Documentation ```@meta CurrentModule = Example ``` ```@docs func(x) ```
Filtering included docstrings
In some cases you may want to include a docstring for a
Method that extends a
Function from a different module – such as
Base. In the following example we extend
Base.length with a new definition for the struct
T and also add a docstring:
struct T # ... end """ Custom `length` docs for `T`. """ Base.length(::T) = 1
When trying to include this docstring with
```@docs length ```
all the docs for
length will be included – even those from other modules. There are two ways to solve this problem. Either include the type in the signature with
```@docs length(::T) ```
or declare the specific modules that
makedocs should include with
makedocs( # options modules = [MyModule] )
It may be necessary to refer to a particular docstring or section of your document from elsewhere in the document. To do this we can make use of Documenter's cross-referencing syntax which looks pretty similar to normal markdown link syntax. Replace the contents of
src/index.md with the following
# Example.jl Documentation ```@docs func(x) ``` - link to [Example.jl Documentation](@ref) - link to [`func(x)`](@ref)
So we just have to replace each link's url with
@ref and write the name of the thing we'd link to cross-reference. For document headers it's just plain text that matches the name of the header and for docstrings enclose the object in backticks.
This also works across different pages in the same way. Note that these sections and docstrings must be unique within a document.
Documenter can auto-generate tables of contents and docstring indexes for your document with the following syntax. We'll illustrate these features using our
index.md file from the previous sections. Add the following to that file
# Example.jl Documentation ```@contents ``` ## Functions ```@docs func(x) ``` ## Index ```@index ```
@contents block will generate a nested list of links to all the section headers in the document. By default it will gather all the level 1 and 2 headers from every page in the document, but this can be adjusted using
Depth settings as in the following
```@contents Pages = ["foo.md", "bar.md"] Depth = 3 ```
@index block will generate a flat list of links to all the docs that that have been spliced into the document using
@docs blocks. As with the
@contents block the pages to be included can be set with a
Pages = [...] line. Since the list is not nested
Depth is not supported for
Pages in the Sidebar
By default all the pages (
.md files) in your source directory get added to the sidebar, sorted by their filenames. However, in most cases you want to use the
pages argument to
makedocs to control how the sidebar looks like. The basic usage is as follows:
makedocs( ..., pages = [ "page.md", "Page title" => "page2.md", "Subsection" => [ ... ] ] )
pages argument you can organize your pages into subsections and hide some pages from the sidebar with the help of the
Adding a logo or icon
You can easily add a logo or icon to your documentation which will be automatically displayed in the navigation sidebar.
During the build process, Documenter looks for suitable graphic images in the
src/assets/ directory and automatically copies them to
You can use SVG, PNG, WEBP, GIF, or JPEG images.
Documenter looks for files
logo.jpeg, in that order. The first suitable image found is used.
This image will be used for both light and dark themes. If you want to create a separate design for the dark theme, add a file called
logo-dark.svg (or PNG/WEBP/GIF/JPEG).
Files don't need to be square. Images with transparent backgrounds can look better, particularly for dark themes.
sidebar_sitename keyword option for
Documenter.HTML that lets you hide the sitename that's usually displayed below a logo. This is useful if the logo already contains the name.