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  • rdoc/parsers/parse_c.rb




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We attempt to parse C extension files. Basically we look for the standard patterns that you find in extensions: rb_define_class, rb_define_method and so on. We also try to find the corresponding C source for the methods and extract comments, but if we fail we don’t worry too much.

The comments associated with a Ruby method are extracted from the C comment block associated with the routine that implements that method, that is to say the method whose name is given in the rb_define_method call. For example, you might write:

  Returns a new array that is a one-dimensional flattening of this
  array (recursively). That is, for every element that is an array,
  extract its elements into the new array.

     s = [ 1, 2, 3 ]           #=> [1, 2, 3]
     t = [ 4, 5, 6, [7, 8] ]   #=> [4, 5, 6, [7, 8]]
     a = [ s, t, 9, 10 ]       #=> [[1, 2, 3], [4, 5, 6, [7, 8]], 9, 10]
     a.flatten                 #=> [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]

static VALUE
    VALUE ary;
    ary = rb_obj_dup(ary);
    return ary;


  rb_define_method(rb_cArray, "flatten", rb_ary_flatten, 0);

Here RDoc will determine from the rb_define_method line that there’s a method called “flatten” in class Array, and will look for the implementation in the method rb_ary_flatten. It will then use the comment from that method in the HTML output. This method must be in the same source file as the rb_define_method.

C classes can be diagramed (see /tc/dl/ruby/ruby/error.c), and RDoc integrates C and Ruby source into one tree

The comment blocks may include special direcives:

Document-class: name

This comment block is documentation for the given class. Use this when the Init_xxx method is not named after the class.

Document-method: name

This comment documents the named method. Use when RDoc cannot automatically find the method from it’s declaration

call-seq: text up to an empty line

Because C source doesn’t give descripive names to Ruby-level parameters, you need to document the calling sequence explicitly

In additon, RDoc assumes by default that the C method implementing a Ruby function is in the same source file as the rb_define_method call. If this isn’t the case, add the comment

rb_define_method(....);  // in filename

As an example, we might have an extension that defines multiple classes in its Init_xxx method. We could document them using

   Document-class:  MyClass

   Encapsulate the writing and reading of the configuration
   file. ...


     cfg.read_value(key)            -> value
     cfg.read_value(key} { |key| }  -> value

   Return the value corresponding to +key+ from the configuration.
   In the second form, if the key isn't found, invoke the
   block and return its value.



Public Class Methods

new(top_level, file_name, body, options, stats) click to toggle source

prepare to parse a C file

               # File rdoc/parsers/parse_c.rb, line 177
def initialize(top_level, file_name, body, options, stats)
  @known_classes = KNOWN_CLASSES.dup
  @body = handle_tab_width(handle_ifdefs_in(body))
  @options = options
  @stats   = stats
  @top_level = top_level
  @classes =
  @file_dir = File.dirname(file_name)
  @progress = $stderr unless options.quiet

Public Instance Methods

scan() click to toggle source

Extract the classes/modules and methods from a C file and return the corresponding top-level object

               # File rdoc/parsers/parse_c.rb, line 190
def scan

Commenting is here to help enhance the documentation. For example, code samples, or clarification of the documentation.

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