Janet 1.15.2-f1819c9 Documentation
(Other Versions: 1.15.0 1.13.1 1.12.2 1.11.1 1.10.1 1.9.1 1.8.1 1.7.0 1.6.0 1.5.1 1.5.0 1.4.0 1.3.1 )


Documenting code is an important way to communicate to users how and when to use a particular piece of functionality.

In many languages, documentation is associated with code through convention (e.g. a comment that comes immediately before a function definition describing the function, its parameters and the return value). In contrast, Janet includes first-class support for documentation through the use of docstrings.

Detecting Docstrings

A docstring is a string that Janet associates with a particular binding in an environment. Janet detects docstrings by looking at the elements in the binding, if a string is located at a particular position, it is used as the docstring.

(defn my-function
  "This function adds two to the argument."
  (+ x 2))

In the above example, Janet treats the string "This function adds two to the argument." as the docstring. When creating the binding associated with the symbol my-function, Janet will add a key :doc with the docstring as its value.

In the case of function and macro definitions, the string that occurs before the tuple of arguments is used as the docstring. In other cases, the string that occurs before the final value is used as the docstring. The string should come after any tags (e.g. :private) that are associated with the binding.

  my-binding       # the symbol used to name the binding
  :my-tag          # one or more tags that are associated with the binding
  "The docstring"  # the docstring associated with the binding
  42)              # the value associated with the binding

Accessing Docstrings

As described above, docstrings are added to a binding under the :doc keyword. The docstrings can be accessed from a binding using the (dyn) function and accessing the value associated with :doc.

(defn my-function
  "This function adds two to the argument."
  (+ x 2))

(get (dyn 'my-function) :doc)

Note that when a docstring is displayed with (doc), Janet adds additional information to the docstring before displaying it. To use this modified string, wrap the call to (doc) in a call to (with-dyns).

(def b @"")
(with-dyns [:out b]
  (doc my-function))

Using Long Strings

Janet provides two literal forms for expressing a strings: ordinary strings (that is, a sequence of characters delimited by the double quote character, ") and long strings (that is, a sequence of characters delimited by one or more backquote characters, `).

While either form can be used for docstrings, long strings have two advantages over ordinary strings. First, new lines are preserved. This makes it simple to write readable strings in code. Second, Janet will automatically removed indentation (so-called "dedenting") for whitespace that appears before the column in which the long string began. This is best seen with an example.

(defn my-second-function
  ``This function adds three to the argument.

  Note that unlike `my-function` this function returns the value as a string.
  (string (+ 3 x)))

Formatting with Markdown

Docstrings are typically read in a plaintext environment. Formatting systems like Markdown are a natural fit for these situations.

Janet's built-in documentation viewer, (doc), understands a subset of Markdown and will indent docstrings that use this subset in an intelligent way. The subset of Markdown includes:

Other Markdown-formatted text (e.g. code spans) are simply treated as ordinary text.

Adding Docstrings to Modules

In addition to documenting bindings, documentation can be added to a file using (setdyn).

# my-module.janet

(setdyn :doc "This is the docstring for my-module")

(defn plus-two [x] (+ x 2))

At the REPL, this docstring can be retrieved using the path to the module:

repl:1:> (import ./my-module)
@{my-module/plus-two @{:private true} _ @{:value <cycle 0>}}
repl:2:> (doc ./my-module)

    module (source)

    This is the docstring for my-module.