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  1. mdoc Repository Format History - Jonathan Pryor's web log
    1. mdoc Repository Format History

mdoc Repository Format History - Jonathan Pryor's web log

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mdoc Repository Format History

Time to wrap up this overly long series on mdoc. We covered:

To close out this series, where did the mdoc repository format come from? It mostly came from Microsoft, actually.

Taking a step back, "in the beginning," as it were, the Mono project saw the need for documentation in January 2002. I wasn't involved then, but perusing the archives we can see that csc /doc output was discarded early because it wouldn't support translation into multiple languages. NDoc was similarly discarded because it relied on csc /doc documentation. I'm sure a related problem at the time was that Mono's C# compiler didn't support the /doc compiler option (and wouldn't begin to support /doc until April 2004), so there would be no mechanism to extract any inline documentation anyway.

By April 2003 ECMA standardization of the Common Language Infrastructure was apparently in full force, and the standardization effort included actual class library documentation. The ECMA documentation is available within ECMA-335.zip. The ECMA-335 documentation also included a DTD for the documentation contained therein, and it was a superset of the normal C# XML documentation. The additional XML elements provided what XML documentation lacked: information available from the assembly, such as actual parameter types, return types, base class types, etc. There was one problem with ECMA-335 XML, though: it was gigantic, throwing everything into a single 7MB+ XML file.

To make this format more version-control friendly (can you imagine maintaining and viewing diffs on a 7+MB XML file?), Mono "extended" the ECMA-335 documentation format by splitting it into one file per type. This forms the fundamental basis of the mdoc repository format (and is why I say that the repository format came from Microsoft, as Microsoft provided the documentation XML and DTD to ECMA). This is also why tools such as mdoc assemble refer to the format as ecma. The remainder of the Mono extensions were added in order to fix various documentation bugs (e.g. to distinguish between ref vs. out parameters, to better support generics), etc.

In closing this series, I would like to thank everyone who has ever worked on Monodoc and the surrounding tools and infrastructure. It wouldn't be anywhere near as useful without them.

Posted on 20 Jan 2010 | Path: /development/mono/mdoc/ | Permalink
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