Path: parsers/parse_c.rb
Last Update: Thu Nov 09 02:05:45 JST 2006

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 outomatically 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. ...

  * Document-method: read_value
  * call-seq:
  *   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.

Required files

rdoc/code_objects   rdoc/parsers/parserfactory