Friday, November 04, 2011

The library section of the Horde website supports component documentation now.

Our new libraries section has been started a while ago to further push the PHP components we offer. Now this section supports publishing the component documentation as well. You can take a look at the documentation of the Cli_Modular package for example. In fact: it is pretty much the only package that fully uses the new system already. So there is still work ahead.

If you use any of the components: We are grateful if you start writing a bit of documenation or describe some examples on how to successfully use the package. It will help us and others tremendously. Thanks!

Let me try to explain how the system is currently intended to work - feedback and critical comments of course welcome:

  1. When creating new documentation for one of the Horde components you start a new section on the developer documentation of our wiki. See the Horde_Cli_Modular link below Library components for example. Please note: It is not mandatory to write the documentation in the wiki. You can have static documentation files within a component as well. This is just meant as an option for those situations where it makes sense to work on documentation files together with people that do not have direct git commit access. Hopefully there will be many component consumers interested in updating and fixing the documentation.
  2. How you structure that new section is up to you. For a simple package you might wish to keep all documentation in a single file but for the more complex one it might make sense to have several files. In that case the new section page should probably just be a link list to the various wiki pages that document the component. In case of Horde_Cli_Modular I used a single page.
  3. Once the documentation has been written in the wiki format it is time to download it into the doc directory of the component. The horde-components helper is what you should use for that operation. The tool expects to find a DOCS_ORIGIN file within the doc or docs (for the applications) directory of the component. This file must conform to the reStructuredText format and map remote URLs to local file paths relative to the component root. The DOCS_ORIGIN from Cli_Modular links the wiki page exported as reStructuredText to the path doc/Horde/Cli/Modular/README. The links can of course point anywhere so you are in principle free to use any remote source. But you should ensure the page provides readable reStructuredText.
  4. Now you can run horde-components fetchdocs and it should fetch the URLs into the respective local files. You can then run horde-components update to refresh the file list in the package.xml file if the documentation files were not included before.
  5. Once a component was released we can now run something like this: horde-components Horde_Cli_Modular webdocs -D ~/git/horde-web/ --html-generator=git/horde-support/maintainer-tools/docutils/ --allow-remote in order to update the documentation on the website. Right now this does not happen automatically during a release but I plan to add this soon.

There are of course still a few problems with this approach:

  • The reStructuredText exporter of our wiki engine "Wicked" is not yet complete. You may experience problems with the export if you use constructs it does not know yet. Please ping me if you experience problems with the export.
  • The wiki syntax and the syntax required by reStructuredText is not 100% aligned. You can write a wiki page that looks just fine but leads to errors or formatting problems in the reStructuredText export. After creating / updating a new wiki documentation page it make sense to run the horde-components fetchdocs/horde-components webdocs sequence to check for problems.
  • We still have some components with documentation files not in reStructuredText format. These will result in non-existing links on our website for now but I plan to fix the few faulty packages soon.

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