Plugin documentation

Besides the user documentation, there is also a plugin documentation for all currently available plugins. On a setup installation, the main files for the plugin documentation are contained in the subfolders doc of each plugin in the plugin directory of itom. Based on these files, itom scans their modification date when the itom internal help is called for the first time. If the help needs to be rebuild, a bundle is collected from all plugin sub-documentations and saved in the docs/pluginDoc/build directory of the build directory of itom. Finally this bundle is packed and prepared for the help assistant of itom.

Create the plugin documentation of any plugin

In order to generate the plugin documentation of any plugin, the following requirements need to be fulfilled:

1. In the sources of the plugin there must be a folder docs that contains at least on *.rst with the plugin documentation. This documentation needs to be written in the so called reStructured-Text format rst (see

  1. The file CMakeLists.txt of the specific plugin must contain the following line in order to register the rst-file as plugin documentation file:

    PLUGIN_DOCUMENTATION(${target_name} <filenameOfTheRstFile>) #the filename must not contain the suffix .rst.
  2. If the plugin is build, its build folder will get a docs subfolder, too. This subfolder consists of a file plugin_doc_config.cfg.

If these requirements are given, start itom and execute the script in the docs/pluginDoc directory of the build directory of itom. Then select the *.cfg-file describing the plugin documentation in its specific build folder.

In order to simultaneously create the documentations of many plugins, execute and indicate the build folder that contains the build-subfolders of many plugins. These subfolders are searched for appropriate *.cfg files and all sub-documentations are created.


How does this work under the hood?

The most important file for generating the necessary html and QtHelp files from the given rst-files, that are located in the source folder of a plugin, is the configuration file with suffix cfg that is located in the build folder of the specific plugin.

This file is generated when CMake executes the CMakeLists.txt file of the plugin and if this file contains the macro PLUGIN_DOCUMENTATION like stated above. This macro generates the configuration file based on the template located in itom/SDK/docs/pluginDoc.

The configuration file then consists of the name of the plugin, the located where the source rst-file is located, the plugin build directory where the intermediate files of each single plugin documentation are generated and finally the installation path of each plugin (subfolder plugin of the itom build directory) where important components of the plugin documentation will be copied after having been build.

When executing the script like described above, the plugin documentation (rst-file) is compiled and build in the QtHelp format in the build directory of the plugin. Afterwards the important components are copied into the documentation installation path of the plugin, given by its configuration file.

For creating the final file itomPluginDoc.qch in the help subfolder of itom, itom reads all docs subfolder of plugins lying in the plugin subfolder of itom. Then all plugin documentations are collected in the itom subfolder docs/pluginDoc/build. From all plugins, the startsite index.html is created and the file list, search indices, keywords... from the single plugin qhp-files are merged into the file itomPluginDoc.qhp. Finally the Qt Help is created using the qhelpgenerator and qcollectiongenerator tool and copied into the help subfolder of itom.

plugin documentation source files

The source files of each plugin documentation are written in the reStructuredText-format (.rst). You can use all possibilities given by this format including the additions provided by **sphinx* (see Additionally, when the documentation is build using itom, specific directives, roles and a pyitom-domain is added in order to automatically create parts of the documentation depending on information that can for instance be obtained using the command itom.pluginHelp().

Use the following roles as placeholders in the text. The placeholders will be replaced with information obtained by the plugin with the given name. This is only possible if this specific plugin is loaded in itom:

:pluginsummary:`pluginname` -> short description of the plugin
:plugintype:`pluginname` -> type of the plugin (DataIO, Actuator, Algorithm)
:pluginlicense:`pluginname` -> license string
:pluginauthor:`pluginname` -> author(s) of the plugin
:pluginversion:`pluginname` -> current version string

Furthermore, there are directives that you can use in order insert more information into your documentation file:

For inserting the detailed description of the plugin, write:

.. pluginsummaryextended::
    :plugin: pluginname

A table with all mandatory and optional parameters that are required to start an instance of a dataIO or actuator plugin, write:

.. plugininitparams::
    :plugin: pluginname

The last directive is created for algorithm plugins. An list of all available filters is obtained via

.. pluginfilterlist::
    :plugin: pluginname

Omit the option :overviewonly: in order to get an extended overview of all filters including their mandatory, optional and return arguments. If this overview is inserted all filters in the short list will link to their specific long description.