How to use Doxygen to generate documentation for our code

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This How To introduces the Doxygen documentation system and gives some guidelines to use it to document Kratos code


What is Doxygen?

Doxygen is system that can be used to produce documentation for our code. It reads our source code looking for comments that follow a special format, and uses that information to generate our documentation.

To document our work, all that is required is to follow some basic guidelines while writing our code. Every time we release a new Kratos version, we will run Doxygen using our source and post the result in the Doxygen Documentation page. An alternate possibility is to run Doxygen periodically on the latest svn revision and upload the result.

Basic instructions to document C++ code

There are many different Doxygen commands, which can be consulted in its reference manual. We will review here the ones that are most commonly used in the Kratos source.

Class documentation: Short description and long description

The class description is a special C++ comment placed just before the class declaration. Its contents will be used to generate the documentation. Note how the comment is identified as input for Doxygen by adding a third slash (/) character

 /// The Example class does nothing.
 class Example

The text after the /// will be used to describe the Example class in the documentation. In addition to the short description, we can add a detailed description with more information about the class

 /// The Example class does nothing.
 /** This class was implemented to introduce the reader to Doxygen documentation.
     Note how this detailed detailed description is just a regular C++ multiline
     comment, but starts with an extra '*'.
 class Example

The class description will be more helpful if its author explains what the class does and how to use it instead of a simple statement of what the class is. Try to include more than what could be deduced from reading the class name. In the case of scientific code such as Kratos, the class description is a good place to briefly describe the theory behind the implementation, and possibly even include bibliographic references.

Function documentation

Function documentation is fundamentally the same as the class description in the previous section. As before, we can provide a short description and a more detailed explanation. The main difference is that, for functions, we should use the detailed description to describe the input parameters and the return value (if any). To do this, we will use the Doxygen commands @param, followed by the parameter name, and @return. Some examples:

 /// Converts a value from degrees to radians.
 /** Note that no check is performed to verify that the angle is between 0 and 360,
     angles greater than 2*Pi may be obtained.
     @param Angle The angle measured in degrees
     @return The angle measured in radians
 double Radians(const double Angle)
    return 3.14159 * Angle / 180.0;

Other useful commands

In addition to the previous commands, there are other ways to provide useful input for Doxygen. In this section, we will review some of them.

Grouping into modules

We would like to organize our documentation by applications, which will be cleaner and easier to browse. To do so, we can use Doxygen groups. First we need to define a new group for each application, which we can put in the Application.h file. For example, we could define a group in FluidDynamicsApplication.h

 ///@defgroup FluidDynamicsApplication Kratos Fluid Dynamics Application
 ///@brief The Fluid Dynamics Application contains a basic tool set for the solution of CFD problems.
 /// This continues with a detailed description...

Then, in each header we add to the application, we can add an instruction to tell Doxygen that it belongs to our application

 namespace Kratos
    ///@addtogroup FluidDynamicsApplication
    // Everything we add here will appear in the Kratos Fluid Dynamics Application documentation

See also

The @see command is useful to add links inside our documentation. We use it to direct the reader to

The todo list

Documenting Kratos classes

Using the header templates

What to document?

Our aim for Kratos would be, at least, having a complete documentation for all classes and public methods. An important detail is ensuring

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