Extensible Documentation Generation Based on AngularJS's Documentation Generation

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Extensible Documentation Generation Based on AngularJS's Documentation Generation NOTE: NodeJS has access to your filesystem so please proceed with caution. I will not be held responsible for side effects of bad code or malitious docular extensions.
Grunt Plugin For Docular: "grunt-docular"
Docular is best used as a dependency by the grunt-docular plugin. The grunt-docular plugin exposes the api in a simple fashion and helps you include documentation tasks in your grunt-based build process.


Getting Started

This plugin requires Grunt ~0.4.1
If you haven't used Grunt before, be sure to check out the Getting Started guide, as it explains how to create a Gruntfile as well as install and use Grunt plugins. Once you're familiar with that process, you may install this plugin with this command:
npm install grunt-docular --save-dev

One the plugin has been installed, it may be enabled inside your Gruntfile with this line of JavaScript:

The "docular" task


In your project's Gruntfile, add a section named docular to the data object passed into grunt.initConfig().
    docular: {
        useHtml5Mode: false, //Use angular's html5 mode? true/false.
        docular_webapp_target: '/docs', //The place where the docs will be generated
        showAngularDocs: true,
        showDocularDocs: true,
        examples: {}, //instructions for how to run the sandboxed examples
        groups: [] //groups of documentation to parse


`baseURL (Type: string, default: ""`): Angular uses the tag to designate the baseUrl for an app. This helps resolve routes and location through the $location service
`useHtml5Mode (Type: boolean, default: false`): Whether or not to use angular's html5 mode. The html5 mode requires a specialized hosting setup, which may be too much work for simply serving documentation.
`docular_webapp_target (Type: string`): Where to put the generated documentation files. Serve this folder via a webserver.
`examples (Type: object`): Instructions to docular as to how to serve up example code.
`examples.autoBootstrap (Type: boolean, default: true`): Automatically bootstrap the example. This isn't desired if your code uses something like requirejs where the dependencies may still be loading at the time angular is done loading.
`examples.include (Type: object`): An object that will contain all of the items that are to be included in the sandbox.
`examples.include.angular (Type: boolean, default: true): Should angular be loaded automatically? Specify this as false` if angular is wrapped in other code you are giving to the example sandbox.
`examples.include.js (Type: array`): A list of JS files that should be included in the example sandboxes.
`examples.include.css (Type: array`): A list of CSS files that should be included in the example sandboxes.
`showAngularDocs (Type: boolean, default: false`): The angular source is included in the docular package so it can be parsed and rendered to both help test the docular package and provide angular documentation for apps that use it.
`showDocularDocs (Type: boolean, default: false`): Setting this to true will have docular parse and render the documentation for the docular plugin itself. This is helpful for developers to understand the default doc api (docular-doc-api-doc) to aid them in creating their own docular api extensions.
`docAPIOrder (Type: array string, default: 'doc', 'angular'`): For each docular api extension we need to know the order to include the UI scripts and CSS due to overrides etc..
`groups (Type: array group object, default: `): This is an array of group objects. Groups have their own api, but generally consists of some metadata and lists of files that need to be parsed and rendered for documentation. For more check out


Group configurations for Angular and the docular documentation are stored and pushed into all groups if you set the showAngularDocs and showDocularDocs options to true. These configurations are identical to what you would use to configure docular to parse and render your own documentation.
Here is the group configuration for Angular:
    groupTitle: 'Angular Docs', //Title used in the UI
    groupId: 'angular', //identifier and determines directory
    groupIcon: 'icon-book', //Icon to use for this group
    sections: [
            id: "api",
            title:"Angular API",
            scripts: ["lib/angular/js"]
            id: "guide",
            title: "Developers Guide",
            docs: ["lib/angular/ngdocs/guide"]
            id: "tutorial",
            title: "Tutorial",
            docs: ["lib/angular/ngdocs/tutorial"]
            id: "misc",
            title: "Overview",
            docs: ["lib/angular/ngdocs/misc"]

Group Object Attributes

`groupTitle (required) string` : The string value that will propogate up to the UI as the name of the tab
`groupId (required) string` : This will be the id used globally within the code and as the directory for this code. It will show in the URL for these docs ie 'http:/localhost:8000/documentation//blah blah'.
`groupIcon (default="icon-book")` string : This is an optional attribute that determines the class put on the icon attribute in the UI. This comes from Twitter Boostrap. See Twitter Boostrap
`sections (required) array sectionObject` : This determines the different sections of documentation within your group. You can see the Angular example above in how it's documentation is broken up into sections that make logical sense.
` (required) string` : This will be the id used globally within the code and will be the identifier in the url for documentation within this section ie 'http:/localhost:8000/documentation///blah blah'.
`sectionObject.title (required) string` : The title that will show in the tab drop downs for this section of documentation
`sectionObject.scripts (optional) array string` : The scripts array is an array of paths to folders and files that contain scripts (really of any kind... could probably be php or java or whatever although that has not been tested). These files will be parsed for documentation that resides within comments (within / and ). The end of a comment will conclude the end of a complete documentation entry.
` (optional) array string
` : The docs array is an array of paths to folders and files that contain documentation. These files will be parsed assuming that the docs here are not within comments. So this is basically a text file full of docs. This is a great way to provide supplimental documentation, tutorials, guides, and definitions for types etc..

Docular Server

grunt-docular allows you to run an HTML 5 mode compliant server hosted on express to host your docular documentation by running
grunt docularserver

Server Options

`targetDir (Type: string, default: ""): The relative path to where docular puts the generated files. Should be equivalent to docular_webapp_target`
`port (Type: number, default: 8000`): The port to use for bringing up the docular server
`livereload (Type: boolean, default: false`): Whether or not to turn on the server's live reload functionality.

Live Reload

Live reload is enabled using connect-livereload and requires additional configuration to run properly. The easiest way to enable livereload is to use grunt-contrib-watch and turn on the livereload option. Make sure to watch both js and ngdoc or doc files. see Enabling live reload for complete instructions. Note that the script tag is injected for you by the docular server.


Contributing includes setting up a dev environment by cloning docular, grunt-docular, doc apis (optional), and setting up an example project. You must have NodeJS installed as well as npm (which now should come bundled with NodeJS).
NodeJS can be installed here Install NodeJS
Here is an example setup:

Create a directory for development

In the command line create a directory and cd into it:
mkdir docular-environment
cd docular-environment

Clone docular, grunt-docular, and docular api extensions

From within your environment directory:
git clone
git clone
optionally clone the docular extensions
git clone
git clone

Setup Development Sym Links

NPM provides some sweet methods to setup a dev environment. This allows you to develop NPM dependencies for other NPM packages. npm link documentation.
If you follow all of these steps you will have a dev environment that can run the grunt-docular grunt plugin. The grunt-plugin cloned repo will be isolated outside your docular-test code via sym links, so changes you make in the grunt-plugin code will be kept isolated from changes in your docular-test code. Additionally, docular will be sym linked from the grunt-docular code. This allows you to isolate changes for the docular code while seeing its changes in the docular-test environment.
Setup global symlink for docular:
cd docular
npm link
cd ..

Setup global symlink for grunt-docular:
cd grunt-docular
npm link
cd ..

Setup global symlink for docular extensions (optional):
cd docular-doc-api-doc
npm link
cd ..
cd docular-doc-api-angular
npm link
cd ..

Wire up docular sym link in the grunt-docular package. CD into the grunt-docular directory:
cd grunt-docular
npm link docular
cd ..

Optionally wire up the sym links for the docular extension api:
cd docular
npm link docular-doc-api-doc
npm docular-doc-api-angular
cd ..

Okay now time to setup the separate test project from your environment base:
mkdir docular-test
cd docular-test

Use npm to create an npm package for your test. Run npm init and follow the directions, you can use all the defaults:
npm init

Use npm to access the global sym link for the grunt-docular npm package:
npm link grunt-docular

Create the following Gruntfile.js file within the root of your docular-test npm package:
module.exports = function(grunt) {

    // Project configuration.

        pkg: grunt.file.readJSON('package.json'),

        docular: {
            groups: [],
            showDocularDocs: true,
            showAngularDocs: true


    // Load the plugin that provides the "docular" and "docular-server" task.

    // Default task(s).
    grunt.registerTask('default', ['docular']);


Run the grunt-docular tasks

Now within your docular-test project, run grunt to compile the Angular and Docular source:
grunt docular // you can also do "grunt" beaucse we set up "docular" as the default

Now start up the NodeJS server so you can view the documentation:
grunt docular-server

Commit your changes

As usual, edit the different packages.. your changes will immediatly propagate through the sym links to your docular-test project. Submit pull requests as desired. Thank you so much for you time, energy, and ingenuity!!

Release History

version: 0.1.3
  • Added a server task with a livereload option

version: 0.1.1
  • Included hooks into the docular api for the docular and docular-server api