I wrote a blog post over at Eng5 outlining how we use TomDoc and GitHub pages for documentation at Site5. Check it out!


Here at Eng5 we love documentation. In the past, we’ve used RDoc and YARD — two different Ruby tools that scan for comments in your code and generate browsable HTML content for publishing online. The content they generate is great, but writing and reading the documentation in code is awful.

That’s why we started converting all of our projects to TomDoc. TomDoc is much easier to write than RDoc. It can be used to document any language. Most importantly, TomDoc is more readable in code.

We used rdoc.info to host our documentation. When we were using RDoc, it was a great way to quickly publish docs to a central location. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support TomDoc, so we haven’t been using it lately.

We already use GitHub to host our code, so I thought it made sense for us to use GitHub Pages to host our documentation as well. Here’s a quick overview of how we set it up.

First, we needed to enable GitHub Pages for our organization, so we created a repo named site5.github.io. This serves as our “root” GitHub page. Any static files on this repo’s master branch can be served over GitHub Pages.

With the initial setup complete, our individual repos are now able to use GitHub Pages as well. Any project with a gh-pages branch will have GitHub Pages available. For example, our project Squall has GitHub Pages at https://site5.github.io/squall/.

In order to generate HTML from TomDoc, we have created a small Rubygem, rake-tomdoc. It is basically a wrapper around yard-tomdoc that adds a rake tomdoc task, which handles generating the HTML to push to GitHub Pages. Now, when we are ready to publish new documentation, it’s as simple as bundle exec rake tomdoc; git commit -a -m "Updating documentation"; git push origin gh-pages. Within a few minutes the changes are available online.

We’ll be migrating the rest of our projects to use this setup, so keep an eye on github.com/site5 for updates!

Update (Feb 28, 2017): This post has been copied from the old Eng5 blog here for posterity — I left the Eng5 team in July 2015, and the rest of the team disbanded the following August after its acquisition.